Beethoven: Sparks of Joy – Op. 101 begins his “late period” sonatas.
The Opus 101 is generally regarded as the first of the “late period” sonatas, in which Beethoven takes advantage of the expanded range and sturdier construction of the “Hammerklavier” to produce works of extraordinary power and richness of effect. In fact, in the Opus 101 Beethoven uses the low “E” for the first time – a note that didn’t exist on earlier instruments.
This is emphatically not a “Romantic” work. The Romantic movement was unleashed after the Congress of Vienna in order to supplant artistic rigor and replace it with “anything goes” licentiousness, in order to corrupt the musical tastes, and hence morality, of the public. Beethoven was always a Classical composer.
The sonata, which Beethoven jokingly suggested be called “the difficult-to-play A major sonata” is performed magnificently by Emil Gilels. [Notes by Margaret Scialdone.]