Tuesday, November 08, 2011

to be sighed off as "partially complete"

When the Kurfürstensonaten were published in 1783, they were said to be the work of an 11-year-old boy. But Beethoven was then 13, so perhaps their prodigious claims were a little exaggerated. They are three piano sonatas - No 33 in E flat, 34 in F minor and 35 in D. (These numbers are conveniences, simply appending them onto the end of the 32 piano sonatas that people usually talk about.) You can listen to them in Jenő Jandó's rendition on Naxos (Vol. 10 of the complete Piano sonatas).

Keith Anderson's sleeve-notes say: "Their interest must lie in hints of the composer's later development and even in suggestions of themes that were to appear in other mature compositions."

For the relativist, the word "must" is inadmissible here - this, as mentioned several times on this blog, involves assumptions encoded in the word "juvenilia" that are almost universally held but are impossible to defend. And in fact, what could be more self-fulfillingly dreary than to listen only for hints of the future?

*

(Camille Saint-Saëns, giving a recital, age 10, offered to encore by performing any one of the 32 from memory.)

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