Beethoven: Sparks of Joy — the master’s climactic Op. 111 finishes his use of the sonata form.
Although Beethoven would go on to compose other works for solo piano, the Opus 111 is Beethoven’s climactic finish to the sonata form. With the first movement, he reduces the C minor key to its bare elements (think of the Pathétique) and produces a work of incredible power and passion. The second movement, innocuously called “Arietta,” takes the form of variations on a simple theme in C major, but these variations transcend anything that has ever been done on the piano.
Here is an thoughtful performance by Mitsuko Uchida. [Notes by Margaret Scialdone.]