Drama and the greatest possible contrast within the same thematic ideas can begin to express the first movmemnt of the Op. 13 C minor sonata of 1789. It is my understanding that Beethoven even approved of the Pathétique title, something which can’t be said of all other Piano sonata titles (Moonlight, Appasionata all titles attributed after Beethovens death). There is no doubt that Pathétique is appropriate, but perhaps it could be just as suitible for many more of the 32 sonatas?
Whenever discussing this work with an audeince that may be unfamiliar with the historical context of this work, I like to begin with “Beethoven hated the idea of music being background ‘Ambience’.” I do enjoy the fact that no work captures a modern ‘unfamilar’ audence quite like this first movement. With its sudden dynamic contrasts, moments of aching silence and rapid changes of direction. A new listener comment how the first movement was ‘a bit mad!’ – perhaps it is indeed. To somone used to popular music which begings in one mood and remains thereabouts this music must sound a bit mad – but you listened enough to feel that. I’m happy with that and I think Ludwig would be too!
The C minor sonata Op. 13 was a favorite of mine from my teens – and as such playing it again recently many of the bad habits I picked up with this piece returned. The long tremelo passegaes of the first movement were always accompanied by a natural tendancy towards tension. A mental effort was required to keep the controled relaxed playing of recent times in focus.