Sonate No. 17, “Tempest” 3rd Movement
Uploaded on May 19, 2012
While Beethoven was at work on the op 31 sonatas during the summer and early fall of 1802, he said that he wanted to take a new path. It's an article of faith that Beethoven's groundbreaking composition is the 3rd Symphony, the Eroica of 1803. While the 3rd Symphony might have been Beethoven's public declaration of his new path, the piano sonatas were, collectively, his workshop for getting there. And more than any other piano sonata, it is the Tempest—the Piano Sonata no 17 in D Minor, op 31-2—that truly marks the beginning of Beethoven's new path.
The third movement is known as a moto perpetuo, meaning a perpetual motion; once the subdivision of six sixteenth notes (or sextuplet) is introduced in the first measure, it continues, non-stop, for 399 measures, to the last note of the movement. Given this absolute rhythmic consistency from start to finish, Beethoven will have to work that much harder to differentiate his themes.
The third movement, in the key of D minor, is very moving, first flowing with emotion and then reaching a climax, before moving into an extended development section which mainly focuses on the opening figure of the movement and meanders through many keys and dynamics, before entering the recapitulation and coda (which is also quite substantial).
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