Beethoven playing and listening.

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Beethoven playing and listening.

Post by guitarbod » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:30 am

Have recently heard a young friend, uni. music student, play the Sonata No.10, in G, by Beethoven (Opus 14 No. 2). I commented that from my point of view the opening of the first and third movements were confusing in relation to knowing where the beat is, and that I would have liked that to be made more clear.
The student replied that his uni tutor had suggested to him already that he actually play it "less clearly" so as to maintain the ambiguity of the section.
Subsequent google research has revealed that this seems to be something to do with Mr Beethoven's apparent sense of humour which would please Mr Haydn (etc etc) .
See the following from ... _Notes.pdf
"Jokes abound throughout the piece, beginning with the first measure, which is deliberately written so as
mislead the unsuspecting listener as to the placement of the main beat. The movement continues amiably until
the relatively lengthy development section, where the mood becomes more serious, even confrontational.
Rhythmic confusion begins again toward the end of the section, and the piece is forced to come to an abrupt,
ugly halt on C#, a note as far away from G as we can get, before a return to the main theme—the sneakiest
Beethoven ever composed—can be managed. He obviously liked the joke so much that he repeated it
practically verbatim in the finale of his sixteenth sonata (G major, Op. 31/1)"
And similar comments in Wikipedia under the Beethoven Sonata No. 10 reference; also with specific reference to Haydn and humour.
So my dilemna is this:
how am I supposed to know what is humour in a work such as this?--and why would such an indistinct and confusing style be put to an audience, and how does this make pleasant listening for the newcomer to the work who only hears a jumble of notes There is, after all a time signature on the piece and one would assume there to be a pulse of some sort. My Ashkenazy recording is as plain as day to comprehend, so whats with this other "ambiguity" type thinking?
Any input greatly appreciate.


Re: Beethoven playing and listening.

Post by Allan » Wed May 14, 2014 7:24 pm

Perhaps this lecture/recital by András Schiff, may help. I'm not sure if it will address your questions directly, but he does talk about the comic elements, the accents being in the "wrong" place, and some technical limitations of the pianos used by Beethoven, which influenced how this sonata was composed.


Re: Beethoven playing and listening.

Post by guitarbod » Wed May 14, 2014 9:10 pm

Many thanks for that reference-I'll look at that with interest.

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