After the Heiligenstadt Testament of Oct 1802, Beethoven was in what musicologists call his second style period. So much of Beethoven’s music that we love comes from this period which spans the years from approximately 1802 to 1817. These are not sharp chronological lines of course but rough guidelines. These are the years when we hear Beethoven the rebel, the blossoming romantic, the artist subordinate to no one or anything but his art, the genius.
The “Kreutzer” Sonata, Opus 47 in A Major, was written from 1802-3. It is a pillar of the violin repertory and is known for its great emotional depth and technical difficulty. Originally dedicated to George Bridgetower (Mulatto Sonata composed for the mulatto Brischdauer, great madman mulatto composer). After a falling out, it was ultimately dedicated to Rudolf Kreutzer, one of the leading violinists of the day. Kreutzer didn’t like the piece and never performed it. As you listen to this performance, note its length, contrasting emotional elements, and its great rhythmic interest and energy. The powerful first movement is followed by the beautifully gentle F Major Andante. Don’t be deceived. This Andante is as difficult to play as it is wonderful to hear. The Finale is a spectacular 6/8 movement in A Major. Hold your breath as you go on this terrific ride.
This attached performance is brilliantly played by two great young artists – Joshua Bell and Yuja Wang. I am such a fan of her playing especially. Enjoy this wonderful performance. As you do, consider the great length of the piece compared to works by other composers. Listen to the emphasis on rhythm and accents, the emotional range, and the great demands made on the performers.