Cello Sonata no 2 in G minor, opus 5 – Beethoven

by richibi


   Egg on Plate with Knife, Fork, and Spoon (1964) 

           Alex Hay


after my somewhat prolonged side trip 
into Bach country, though it is a land
of many more wonders, I’ll get back 
on track, more or less, here, with 
Beethoven’s Second Cello Sonata
the other half of his Opus 5

till then, the cello had served as 
accompaniment, essentially, for other 
more discursive, higher pitched, less 
sonorous, less stentorious  

but Beethoven puts the cello back 
into the hottest seat in the house, right 
next to the ubiquitous piano, a 
requirement in any instance following 
the neglect of the cello during the 
intervening Classical Period, despite 
Bach’s earlier luminous illustration of 
its incandescent potential

the Opus 5, no 2 starts, audaciously, 
with an adagio, not always a wise 
choice, as you’ve heard me repeat 
here before, it can be unentertaining

but Beethoven gives his adagio tension
by introducing breaks often, which,
rather than stultify, creates momentum,
therefore a narrative, a story to follow

the rhythm is no longer adjusted to 
dance essentially, such a spin as is
heard in the second and third 
movements, for instance, would 
surely sweep one off one’s feet

but the art is in the dance that 
Beethoven allows and creates between 
the piano and the cello, the first the 
filigree on the arm of the more grounded, 
more entrenched latter, the crystal, the 
silverware that adorn, symbolically, an 
however majestic oak table, the creamy
Hollandaise that makes an egg, however 
elemental, irresistible, the literary turns 
that might transform mere prose into, 
verily, poetry, icing on a cake, in a word,  
to complement, in stunning and equal 
cooperation, the inextricable 

there is even a moral lesson transmitted

Beethoven can often be long-winded, 
I’ve found, but there’s always, always,
at the end of the road something 
entirely worth the extra minute, the 
even several extra minutes 


R ! chard