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Whether Kroll could satisfactorily have attempted the whole volume I do not know. Other offerings have obvious virtues and equally obvious faults. The useful list of first-edition title pages, for instance, appearing on page 69, makes admirably clear when Beethoven changed from describing the keyboard as functioning with another instrument to using 'ed', 'et' or 'und' to indicate equal partnership. The change is signalled by the 'Kreutzer' sonata, when the unaccompanied violin is in splendid many-stopped isolation for the first four bars of the Adagio introduction (the Op 17 horn sonata furnishes an earlier example of the 'accompanying' instrument leading the way). It must also be said that each entry of the list contains a tiresome inaccuracy, except in the case of the Op 30 sonatas dedicated to the Russian emperor Alexander I, soon to limp his way through the Congress of Vienna.

Sieghard Brandenburg, who deals with Op 12, is an acknowledged expert on Beethoven sketches and has much of interest to say on the subject. But he muffs a crucial point in the first Sonata, where the appearance of F major in an A major context has wonderful long-range implications, which Brandenburg ignores. The relationship is far more mysterious and remote; but this raises the whole question of Beethoven's key schemes, probably best expounded by Tovey.

Lockwood makes a nice point about the start of the 'Spring' sonata, a work perhaps designed for its euphony to deflect hostile criticism, noting that both Tamino and Pamina in The Magic Flute have an anacrusis before beginning a lyrical melody on the 3rd of the key; but he misses the chance of showing how the empirical Beethoven does not hesitate to cheat when the apparently invertible counterpoint that launches the finale of the A minor sonata Op 23 will not quite work upside down at the end.

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Copyright © 14 November 2004 Robert Anderson, London UK


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