Sunday, August 22, 2021
Beethoven rarely dated his works, but the Sonata in A-flat major Opus 110 bears the date December 25, 1821. And what a Christmas gift to the world!
The entire sonata, encompassing three movements, begins “con amabilitá” (with loveliness), and proceeds to develop the initial thematic material through the scherzo second movement and into the final movement, which begins with a recitative followed by an “arioso dolente” (song of lamentation) and a three-voice fugue, a resumption of the arioso (this time marked “ermattet” – exhausted), then an inversion of the fugue (marked “wieder auflebend” – coming back to life), and finally concluding in a great chorale. The Arioso theme strongly resembles the aria “Es is Vollbracht” (it is finished) from Bach’s “St. John Passion”.
Here is an exquisite performance by Claudio Arrau.