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Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Chase..and some other tid bits

I haven’t really got the hang of this whole analysis thing, but here we go! Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in C Major reminds me of a race, which continually builds through the first thirteen measures until it peaks with an intense run and crescendo in measures nine through eleven. This theme is repeated several times throughout the piece, seeming to appear from nowhere, as if Beethoven just fell into it again. It originally has the roman numerals in C Major: I I V6 V6 bVII bVII V42/iv iv V7 V7 IV6 V7 IV6 V7 i V…I think. I found measure 10 particularly hard to “diagnose,” if you will! Which makes sense, as it is during the most intense section of the run which goes up and down the C minor scale. The minor bit here adds interest to the pieces and suspense to the chase. The mixture chords incorporated also add interest the piece. They are used to surprise and tension.

After this section, the piece slows down a bit and returns to its original pianissimo. It has the same intensity, but it feels lazier compared to the beginning. It then enters a dolce section, which feels as if a resolution has been found. This peace is soon interrupted by the rapid eighth and sixteenth notes of the chase. In measure 156, Beethoven brings home the original theme, reinforcing the urgency of the chase. It is almost the exact same as the beginning, but differs in the resolution, which goes to a bVI, ending the theme with more suspense in a mixed chord. It then goes on, making the listener feel lost in the accidentals dispersed throughout the quick succession of sixteenth notes in measures 167 through 174. I found it difficult to figure out the roman numerals for this section. I am somewhat guessing in my answers, not because I was lazy, as Austin’s stalker would claim, but because I had trouble distinguishing if it was a new key signature or simply mixture chords. I erred on the side of mixture chords, because I feel it would help with the confusion Beethoven is obviously trying to create in his fast-paced sonata. I know that it ends in I and begins in i…but the middle is a bit hazy, combining bVI and bVII chords in measures 168 through 171.

The very end of the piece brings the theme back once again, at least the first half. But it turns quickly into punches of chords, ending in a I, to let the piece resolve cleanly. I love that the work begins and ends with the same chord progression and theme, and enjoyed that the race finally ended in measure 300, as the elaborate run concludes a with definitive end to the chase and the movement.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Don't forget the V42/V at the end of m. 2, which the V42/IV echoes (part of a big sequence). M. 7 is a major IV6 before the minor iv6 of m. 8, and all of the oscillating chords with the V7 onward are minor iv6.

From m. 167-174: i - bVI - bII - bVII - bIII - iv7 - viio42 - viio7/V - V64-53 - I. We will talk about the bII chord next week. So yes, it is mixture, though the bVI - bII and bVII - bIII pairings do feel like tonicization.

Notice in the last iteration that there are very few mixture chords, especially no bVII chord this time. Plus the bass makes a nice chromatic descent: C B Bb A Ab G F G, which pulls us to the final cadence.