About this work
This work has an unusual structure in its three movements: Allegro, Andante, and Scherzo (Allegro assai). A Scherzo, of course, is usually an inner movement, but Beethoven was never one to follow convention. He makes the pattern work well here and the piece sounds perfectly logical even at first hearing. The sonata begins with an invigorating burst of fresh air -- springtime country air, in this case. It should be mentioned here that the composer may have started this work in late 1798, even though its mood would suggest at least late winter, if not spring, of the following year as its gestating point. Of course, Beethoven's inspiration was hardly limited by the time of year or other such external factors. There are three main themes in the first movement, all heard in rapid succession and all ecstatic in their joy and sense of merriment. The exposition is repeated and a fairly elaborate development section ensues. Here, there is some tension, but the thematic transformations and subtle interlacing of the various materials are of greater significance. The recapitulation presents all the themes from the exposition once more, but with some minor changes. The middle movement Andante begins with a proud, march-like theme, quite lively considering the slow tempo. Three variations follow, without any significant change of mood. The second variation emphasizes the rhythmic aspects of the theme, while in the third the left hand takes up the main line, the right supplying the accompaniment. The movement ends with a brief restatement of the theme given in chords by both hands. The finale begins with a lively theme of considerable keyboard range, with direction changing and movement often hesitant. An alternate theme, a bit less colorful but warmer, appears and provides fine contrast. There is much humor in this high-spirited three-minute movement.