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MusicPart of Humanities

Beethoven première in East Anglia

Published: 7 December 2011
Professor William Drabkin

Tuesday 13 December will see a Beethoven première at Potton Hall, Westleton, Suffolk: an early version of the composer's Piano Sonata in C minor, Opus 10 No. 1, in a reconstruction by Music's Professor William Drabkin.

The sonata was the first of Beethoven's modestly designed three-movement sonatas, following a series of ground-breaking works in four movements that established him as the rising star on the Viennese music scene in the 1790s. In its original conception, the sonata was four movements long. It included a substantial Presto that was dropped at a late stage. Sketches for the sonata show that the final movement was to have been considerably longer: Beethoven -- unusually -- replaced a central 45-bar "development" with a short transitional passage. It is this development that Drabkin has reconstructed from the surviving sketches for the work.

The eminent French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet will perform all three Opus 10 sonatas at the concert, including both versions of the C minor work. His recordings of both the shorter and the longer versions of Opus 10 No. 1 will figure on the complete Beethoven sonata cycle he is recording for the Chandos label.

Details about the sketches and the reconstructed development can be found in Drabkin's article “Beethoven’s Unborn Children”, published in Biographie und Schaffensprozess: Beethoven-Studien zum Gedächtnis Rainer Cadenbach, ed. Jürgen May (Bonn: Beethoven-Haus, 2011), pp. 35–50.

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