From time to time I just stare at the sky. I lose myself in that ocean of blue. The intoxication that overcomes me at such moments is close to the trance I enter into when I listen to some of Ludwig van Beethoven’s compositions. His Piano Sonata No. 3 in C, Op. 2 for instance. A few weeks ago I enjoyed the evening light in front of our house. The sun had already disappeared behind the trees and we were waiting for the bats to come out and flutter around. The blue hour.
The sonata is part of a set of three, that Ludwig van Beethoven wrote in 1794/95 and dedicated to his teacher Joseph Haydn. The composer himself performed it in 1795 with Haydn in the audience. Beethoven held his teacher in high esteem, but at the same time by 1794 he had grown weary of Haydn’s teaching methods. Piano Sonata No. 3 requires a lot of pianist virtuosity – that is the central message of the piece. Did Beethoven want to tell his master he had already reached maturity and wanted to go his own way? Perhaps.
The expansive piece is written in four movements and comes close to a solo concert in style and scope. The main building block is a theme introduced in the first movement, that keeps coming back, it fuels the dynamics of the piece right up to the finale. The palpable tension and the exuberance make it so fascinating. That’s what catapults me into a state of trance. That’s what makes me love this piece. And then there are certain humoristic elements hidden in the score like the surprising key in which opens the second movement or the unexpected pause in the finale, followed by an unfinished figure, an other pause – Beethoven is drawing out the pleasure to listen to him – and only then the piece reaches its end.
Dive into the blue drowsiness with the splendid recording by the German pianist Alice Sara Ott.
© Charles Thibo