How many sonatas does Beethoven have

Beethoven's last piano sonatasClear and elegant

Music: Piano Sonata op.109 / 3

Vocal, with deepest emotion, Ludwig van Beethoven gives the interpreter for the third movement of his piano sonata op.109. This theme in E major is one of the most beautiful that Beethoven composed, and he skilfully circles it in six variations, gradually increasing the inner tension, until this simple theme is heard again at the end.

Virtuoso, intellectual, transcendent

This short excerpt comes from the new CD of the Frenchman Alexandre Tharaud, who recorded the last three piano sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven on the Erato label. With his interpretation of the Goldberg Variations by Bach or his CD with works by Jean-Philippe Rameau, Tharaud has attracted attention as a sensitive pianist who can make works transparently understandable with his differentiated touch culture. Now he turns to Beethoven for the first time on CD and then immediately to his last three sonatas. They represent a challenge for pianists in many ways: they are virtuoso, they are intellectually attractive, since Beethoven sees the dramaturgical final point in the end in all three cases, and takes long distances to get to this finale and, last but not least, they inspire it Pianists at transcendent moments when, as just heard, something third, fragile and inherently beneficial emerges from a few notes.

Music: Piano Sonata op.109 / 3

Alexandre Tharaud presents a very clear and, for a long time, intelligently balanced reading of the three sonatas op.109, op.110 and op.111. In the second movement of the Sonata op.110, in the Prestissimo, it becomes clear that Tharaud interprets the movement more from his experience with the music of Bach and Rameau. He dispenses with powerful sound in the bass, interprets nobly, not at all thought-difficult at a brisk pace.

Music: Piano Sonata op.110 / 2

For all three sonatas, Alexandre Tharaud best demonstrates his ability to play multilayered things transparently in passages in which Beethoven draws on the baroque principle of the fugue, such as in the Sonata op.110, in the third movement . Tharaud is likely to lend a hand even more exuberantly here, because even if the last sonatas, especially op.110, are characterized by vocal mildness and intimacy, the gruff, suddenly quick-tempered Beethoven would find himself well here too.

Music: Piano Sonata op.110 / 3

Ludwig van Beethoven offered his publisher Adolph Martin Schlesinger the three sonatas as a pack of three, which he wanted to send him within three months. In fact, the composing of op.110 and op.111 in particular took longer, also because Beethoven put this work on hold in places. Overall, the sonatas were written between 1820 and 1822 - Beethoven's hearing was already severely impaired at that time.

Rhythmically precise and still suggestive

"This ingenious piano composition is a new proof of the inexhaustible imagination and deep knowledge of harmony of the wonderful tone poet" praised a music critic Beethoven's Sonata op.109 and the other two sonatas were also great in terms of musical ideas, harmonic turns and also the novel form praised. The last Sonata, Op. 111, has always been particularly noticeable among the three, as it consists of only two movements and these are also very different from one another. The first with an overture-like beginning, and with a cheeky-evil theme that could characterize Mephistopheles, and that rocks to a wild 16th ride. The second movement then - again a variation movement - tends to lead to associations of ethereal heights. Tharaud works here rhythmically, and is still able to reveal this magic. In general, he succeeds in interpreting the sonata op.111. next to that of op.109 most convincing.

Here is an excerpt from the first movement, in which Tharaud also keeps everything under control, but a wild Beethoven behind bars:

Music: Piano Sonata op.111 / 1

The fascinating thing about the second movement of this sonata, the movement that draws the line under all 32 sonatas, is how Beethoven manages to create the feeling of a standstill in movement with a movement of variations. What initially starts with the simple shortening of the note values ​​and begins in combination with a swinging rhythm and targeted emphasis on unstressed beats, then turns into a whirring in the high register to evenly dabbed eighths and finally the continuous trill is the symbol par excellence for movement and Standstill in a figure. Alexandre Tharaud brings this paradoxical power and thus supernatural suggestion of Beethoven's music to light with his transparent playing.

Music: Piano Sonata op.111 / 2

The CD of the French Alexandre Tharaud with the last three piano sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven is also accompanied by a DVD with ambitious video clips for the three sonatas, which show how Alexandre Tharaud interprets these sonatas by Beethoven in a generously barren backdrop.

Sonatas op.109, op.110, op.111
Alexandre Tharaud, piano