Beethoven’s Opus 31 piano sonatas began a new path for him.
Beethoven composed his trio of Opus 31 piano sonatas in 1801-1802, after he had remarked to his student Carl Czerny that he was dissatisfied with his compositions so far and was setting out on a new path. Each of the sonatas is strikingly different, and none is reminiscent of the courtly style of Haydn or Mozart.
The Opus 31 no. 1, Beethoven’s 16th sonata, is described by one commentator as “a running joke on the excesses of Italian opera”.
That spirit is captured perfectly in this performance by Szymon Nehring: