Music: Barenboim plays Beethoven Hammerklavier - Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat major Op. 106 - Data in Eng. y Esp. - Photos - 4 vids

Posted by ricardo marcenaro | Posted in | Posted on 17:20

Barenboim plays Beethoven Hammerklavier
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  Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat major, Op. 106 (known as the Große Sonate für das Hammerklavier, or more simply as the Hammerklavier) is a piano sonata widely considered to be one of the most important works of the composer's third period and among the greatest piano sonatas. It is also widely considered to be Beethoven's single most challenging composition for the piano,[1] and it remains one of the most challenging solo works in the classical piano repertoire.[2][3]


Dedicated to his patron, the Archduke Rudolf, the sonata was written primarily from the summer of 1817 to the late autumn of 1818, towards the end of a fallow period in Beethoven's compositional career. It represents the spectacular emergence of many of the themes that were to recur in Beethoven's late period: the reinvention of traditional forms, such as sonata form; a brusque humour; and a return to pre-classical compositional traditions, including an exploration of modal harmony and reinventions of the fugue within classical forms.

The Hammerklavier also set a precedent for the length of solo compositions (performances typically take about 45 minutes). While orchestral works such as symphonies and concerti had often contained movements of 15 or even 20 minutes for many years, few single movements in solo literature had a span such as the Hammerklavier's Adagio sostenuto.

The sonata's name comes from Beethoven's later practice of using German rather than Italian words for musical terminology. (Hammerklavier literally means "hammer-keyboard", and is still today the German name for the fortepiano, the predecessor of the modern pianoforte.) It comes from the title page of the work, "Große Sonate für das Hammerklavier", which means "Grand sonata for the fortepiano". The more sedate Sonata No. 28 in A, Op. 101 has the same description, but the epithet has come to apply to the Sonata No. 29 only.

The work also makes extensive use of the una corda pedal, with Beethoven giving for his time unusually detailed instructions when to use it.


The piece contains four movements, a structure often used by Beethoven, and imitated by contemporaries such as Schubert, in contrast to the more usual three or two movements of Mozart and Haydn sonatas.

In addition to the thematic connections within the movements and the use of traditional Classical formal structures, Charles Rosen has described how much of the piece is organized around the motif of a descending third (major or minor). This descending third is quite ubiquitous throughout the work, but most clearly recognizable in the following sections: the opening fanfare of the Allegro; in the Scherzo's mocking imitation of the aforementioned fanfare, as well as in its trio theme; in bar two of the Adagio; and in the Fugue in both its introductory bass octave-patterns and in the main subject, as the seven-note runs which end up on notes descended by thirds. It is perhaps the first major piano work (if not work of any instrumentation) to so thoroughly incorporate a Baroque contrapuntal style (the fugue) within an originally Classical structure (the sonata form).

I. Allegro

Duration of roughly 11–12 minutes.

The first movement opens with a series of fortissimo B-flat major chords, which form much of the basis of the first subject. After the first subject is spun out for a while, the opening set of fortissimo chords are stated again, this time followed by a similar rhythm on the unexpected chord of D major. This ushers in the more lyrical second subject in the submediant (that is, a minor third below the tonic), G major. A third and final musical subject appears after this, which hints at G minor by chromatic alterations of the third scale degree, as well as the minor subdominant C minor. The exposition ends with a largely stepwise figure in the treble clef in a high register, while the left hand moves in an octave-outlining accompaniment in eighth notes. The development section opens with a statement of this final figure, except with alterations from the major subdominant to the minor, which fluidly modulates to E-flat major. Directly after, the exposition's first subject is composed in fugato and features an incredible display of musical development. The fugato ends with a section featuring non-fugal imitation between registers, eventually resounding in repeated D major chords. The final section of the development begins with a chromatic alteration of D natural to D-sharp. The music progresses to the alien key of B major, in which the third and first subjects of the exposition are played. The retransition is brought about by a sequence of rising intervals that get progressively higher, until the first theme is stated again in the home key of B-flat, signalling the beginning of the recapitulation. In keeping with Beethoven's exploration of the potentials of sonata form, the recapitulation avoids a full harmonic return to B-flat until long after the return to the first theme. The movement ends with a coda, and the final notes feature one of the rare fortississimo (ƒƒƒ) indications in Beethoven's work.

II. Scherzo: Assai vivace

Duration of 3–4 minutes.

The brief second movement includes a great variety of harmonic and thematic material. The scherzo's theme – which has been described[by whom?] as a parody of the first movement's first subject – is at once playful, lively, and pleasant. The scherzo, in B-flat major, maintains the standard ternary form by repeating the sections an octave higher in the treble clef. The trio, marked "semplice", is in the parallel minor, B-flat minor, but the effect is more shadowy than dramatic. Following this dark interlude, Beethoven inserts a more intense presto section in 2/4 meter, still in the minor, which eventually segues back to the scherzo. After a varied reprise of the scherzo's first section, a coda with a meter change to cut time follows. This coda plays with the semitonal relationship between B-flat and B-natural, and briefly returns to the first theme before dying away.

III. Adagio sostenuto

Duration of 16–25 minutes.

The sonata-form slow movement, centered on F-sharp minor, has been called, among other things, a "mausoleum of collective sorrow,"[4] and is notable for its ethereality and great length as a slow movement (e.g. Wilhelm Kempff played approximately 16 minutes and Christoph Eschenbach 25 minutes) that finally ends with a Picardy third. Paul Bekker called the movement "the apotheosis of pain, of that deep sorrow for which there is no remedy, and which finds expression not in passionate outpourings, but in the immeasurable stillness of utter woe".[5] Wilhelm Kempff described it as "the most magnificent monologue Beethoven ever wrote".[6]

Structurally, it follows traditional Classical-era sonata form, but the recapitulation of the main theme is varied to include extensive figurations in the right hand that anticipate some of the techniques of Romantic piano music. NPR's Ted Libbey writes, "An entire line of development in Romantic music—passing through Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, and even Liszt—springs from this music."[7]

IV. Introduzione: Largo - Fuga: Allegro risoluto

Duration of roughly 12 minutes.

The movement begins with a slow introduction that serves to transition from the third movement. To do so, it modulates from B-flat minor to B major to A major, which modulates to B-flat major for the fugue. Dominated by falling thirds in the bass line, the music three times pauses on a pedal and engages in speculative contrapuntal experimentation, in a manner foreshadowing the quotations from the first three movements of the Ninth Symphony in the opening of the fourth movement of that work.

After a final modulation to B-flat major, the main substance of the movement appears: a titanic three-voice fugue in triple meter. The subject of the fugue can be divided itself into three parts: (i) a tenth leap followed by a trill to the tonic, (ii) a 7-note scale figure repeated descending by a third, and (iii) a tail semiquaver passage marked by many chromatic passing tones, whose development becomes the main source for the movement's unique dissonance. Marked "with some licenses" ("con alcune licenze"), the fugue, one of Beethoven's greatest contrapuntal achievements, as well as making incredible demands on the performer, moves through a number of contrasting sections and includes a number of "learned" contrapuntal devices, often, and significantly, wielded with a dramatic fury and dissonance inimical to their conservative and academic associations. Some examples: augmentation of the fugue theme and countersubject in a sforzando marcato at bars 96-117, the massive stretto of the tenth leap and trill which follows, a contemplative episode beginning at bar 152 featuring the subject in retrograde, leading to an exploration of the theme in inversion at bar 209.[8]

A second, contrasting idyllic subject is introduced at bar 250, which becomes a terrifying bass cantus firmus, heard against parts of the first theme. The penultimate episode investigates the implications of sounding the main subject, countersubject and their inversions simultaneously in stretto. A lengthy coda in B-flat ends the work, the tenth leap and trill rising up the B-flat scale to arrive at two conventional dominant-tonic cadences which sound nevertheless strangely unstable.

This fugue, which Stravinsky called both inexhaustible and exhausting[citation needed], ranks alongside the last movement of Piano Sonata No. 31, Op. 110, the "Et Vitam Venturi" fugue in the Missa solemnis, Op. 123, and the Große Fuge, Op. 133, as Beethoven's most daring and extensive late explorations of the contrapuntal art.

The work, particularly the last movement, had more or less to wait until the twentieth century before its significance was realised (possibly due to the difficulty of gaining a technically competent performance). Even as progressive a musician as Richard Wagner, who appreciated the work and fully admired the late string quartets, held reservations for what he perceived as a lack of succinctness in its composition.

In the twentieth century, Pierre Boulez's Piano Sonata No. 2 applies a serial syntax to the playing style of a Beethoven piano sonata.

The composer Felix Weingartner also produced an orchestration of the sonata.

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La sonata para piano n.º 29 en Si bemol mayor Op. 106, subtitulada Hammerklavier es una de las últimas sonatas para piano del compositor alemán Ludwig van Beethoven.

Literalmente, la palabra Hammerklavier significa piano de martillos, y era utilizada para diferenciar el piano del clave. La obra debe su sobrenombre al encabezamiento que el propio Beethoven escribió en la portada: Große Sonate für das Hammerklavier (Gran sonata para piano de martillos).

Con cerca de cincuenta minutos de duración, es una de las sonatas más largas que se hayan creado. Beethoven, al crearla dijo: "ya sé componer".


En su publicación, no tuvo ninguna acogida por parte del público, y ningún pianista se atrevía a enfrentarse a tal sonata, ya que ésta demanda técnicamente más del ejecutante que otras obras. Esta composición ha "tentado" a todos los grandes pianistas de los últimos cien años, e incluso a algunos grandes como Arthur Schnabel, que nunca quedaron del todo satisfechos con su ejecución.

Esta sonata presentaba dificultades técnicas tan descomunales que todos los que intentaban interpretarla chocaban una y otra vez contra un muro infranqueable. Cuando Beethoven la terminó dijo: «Esta es una obra que no dará problemas a los pianistas que la ejecuten dentro de cincuenta años». No le faltaba razón. Se dice que fue Liszt el primero que pudo demostrar ante el público que era una obra ejecutable. Y no sólo hay que vencer las dificultades técnicas. También hay que saber moverse en una gran variedad de registros diferentes y saber salir airoso de ellas.


La sonata consta de cuatro movimientos:

    Scherzo. Assai vivace.
    Adagio sostenuto. Appassionato e con molto sentimento.
    Largo - Allegro risoluto.


Está escrito en forma sonata. En lo formal, está más cerca del clasicismo que del romanticismo, aunque su sonoridad y sus contrastes reflejan claramente un lenguaje nuevo. De proporciones colosales, comienza con un brío comparable al arranque de su 5ª sinfonía. El primer tema tiene un carácter heroico y triunfal. Los acordes, alternándose en ambas manos, marcan con decisión el avance y el ritmo de la obra en estos primeros compases. El segundo tema es más melódico; en éste se aprovecha más la extensión del teclado. Este segundo tema se acerca a su fin con un recurso técnico creado por Beethoven y ampliamente explotado en esta y, en general, en sus últimas sonatas: la ejecución de un trino más una melodía, tocándolo todo con una sola mano. Tras la habitual repetición de ambos temas, el desarrollo está coronado por un pasaje fugado (otra constante en el Beethoven tardío) que comienza a dos voces y termina a cuatro voces. Es entonces cuando los elementos de ambos temas se enfrentan en una lucha llena de contrastes. En la reexposición, ambos temas salen fortalecidos, siendo las dificultades técnicas a superar de mayor grado aún. El movimiento termina con una coda, en la que los grandes contrastes siguen presentes prácticamente hasta el final.

Scherzo. Assai vivace

Llama la atención la brevedad de este 2º movimiento en comparación con los vastos movimientos adyacentes. El scherzo está aquí, al igual que en la 9ª sinfonía, en segundo lugar, y no en el tercero habitual. Las dificultades técnicas vuelven a manifestarse. Existe cierta analogía entre el comienzo del scherzo y el primer tema del primer movimiento. En efecto, también aquí, Beethoven transporta toda la melodía una 8ª hacia el registro agudo tras unos compases de presentación. Es como si en el scherzo, Beethoven hiciera una caricatura de una parte del primer movimiento. Una modulación marca el comienzo del trío. Es aquí donde verdaderamente parece que todo está en precario equilibrio. Hasta que una escala ascendente termina con una alternancia de acordes, que parece sonar más como una señal de alarma para volver a la tonalidad anterior. El movimiento se cierra de una forma ciertamente enigmática, en lo que parece una interrogación.

Adagio sostenuto. Apasionato e con molto sentimento

Nos hallamos ante el que, en opinión de muchos, es el movimiento de sonata más hermoso jamás escrito. Todo un templo al que se accede por la angosta puerta que constituyen las dos notas iniciales. Dos notas que Beethoven añadió en el último momento. En efecto, poco después de que terminara de componer la obra, y cuando el original estaba ya en manos del editor, Beethoven le escribió diciéndole que en el comienzo del adagio debía añadir dos notas. Esto extrañó tanto al editor que creyó que Beethoven se había vuelto loco. Pero cuando comprobó el efecto de esas dos notas, comprendió el deseo de incluir a toda costa ese comienzo. Está escrito en una de las formas en las que Beethoven ejerció un dominio absoluto: el tema con variaciones. El tema inicial está escrito de una forma casi polifónica. La primera variación transforma el tema en una melodía que empieza a recordar a Chopin, y en la que se acentúa el carácter atormentado del movimiento. Tras unos compases en los que el autor parece sentirse desorientado, comienza la segunda variación, construida magistralmente con una melodía en amplios intervalos. Después de modular, aparece la tercera variación, que en realidad es la primera variación modificada. De pronto, Beethoven parece que se tuviera de desembarazar de toda la angustia precedente, en lo que parece un grito desesperado. Al final, el tema inicial vuelve a aparecer como un recuerdo, con un brillo crepuscular.

Largo - Allegro risoluto

La obra termina de manera contundente con una fuga a tres voces de carácter casi apocalíptico. No podía ser de otra manera. ¿Alguien se imagina esta obra terminando con un amable rondó? Pero antes de la fuga, durante algo más de dos minutos, se extiende una de las páginas más enigmáticas y alucinantes de la literatura pianística de Beethoven. Una especie de punto de partida hacia algo desconocido. Incluso podemos imaginarnos a Beethoven al piano, tanteando, buscando en la oscuridad la salida a la encrucijada, improvisando posibles formas de terminar la obra. De pronto, tras un irresistible crescendo de acordes, aparece el tema de la fuga como una revelación, en lo que será un increíble ejercicio contrapuntístico donde tienen cabida las más audaces armonías. Como decía Beethoven, «componer fugas es lo más sencillo que hay, pero la imaginación también reclama sus derechos». El tema principal de la fuga está encabezado por un trino, elemento que aquí hace el papel casi de tema dentro del tema. Las ideas musicales vuelan vertiginosas en pasajes que exigen del intérprete mucho más de lo que estaban acostumbrados en tiempos de Beethoven. Voces que se solapan, violentos trinos que surgen como de la nada en cualquier registro del teclado, cánones retrógrados que hacen que parezca que vemos la partitura en un espejo.

Music: Barenboim plays Beethoven Hammerklavier - Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat major Op. 106 - Data in Eng. y Esp. - Photos - 4 vids

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