(MUSIC) So, that’s the B episode. The C episode is again in a key that brings no new harmonic ambiguity – it is the c minor that he has been flirting with all along – but it does again brings a new character: in this case: combativeness. (MUSIC) The entire episode remains in this uncompromising vein, and we end with the same Beethoven-in-his-c-minor-mood that we started with. (MUSIC) This leads to a truly stunning transitional passage, the only part of the whole movement in which Beethoven substantially broadens the harmonic palette, creating ambiguity, tension, and above all, mystery. (MUSIC) The material here, of course, is the opening theme. But the transformation is huge. First of all, this is due to – altogether with me now – the harmony. The theme had only ever appeared in C major. Now, in short order, we get A-flat major (MUSIC), F minor (MUSIC), and finally D-flat major (MUSIC). Then, on top of the sense of exploration that creates, there are these dramatic leaps that Beethoven has introduced (MUSIC), which make the theme newly yearning. Again, the theme did have a sense of scope already, due in part to that huge space – several octaves – between the bass and the melody, all played in the same hand (MUSIC). But now with these leaps, that aspect is much more at the forefront. And the fact that this material is no longer a calm sea of C major, but suddenly harmonically restless, makes this passage especially powerful and moving. So after those three phrases – those three “attempts” – he lands on D-flat major, the neapolitan. (MUSIC) It’s quite a foreign key under any circumstances, but the unprecedented stability of this movement thus far makes it more so: really, this passage plays as a mirage. (MUSIC) In a most tightly scripted movement, Beethoven has gone off-script. The sense of disorientation, of dislocation, is fantastic. And it takes him a long while to re-find his confidence, and his harmonic home base. (MUSIC) Finally, after so much groping in the dark – and yes, I know I’ve used that phrase too often, but it really is what Beethoven seems to go through in these moments where he loses his harmonic way – we have found our way back to the dominant. (MUSIC) This ends up being a long dominant – we’ve been in harmonic purgatory for so long, a quick V-I would feel abrupt and inappropriate – and true to the nature of the movement, and really of the whole piece, this dominant is, until the very last moment, poised between major and minor. (MUSIC) This return is obviously exhilarating – it’s the first time the theme is immediately declaimed fortissimo – and a huge part of this is the way in which the mode hung in the balance the whole time. The minor – the darkness – was constantly threatening to take over (MUSIC), so when the return finally, unambiguously, confirms the major (MUSIC), it is a relief and a thrill. This theme was celestial on its first appearance, but now the gates of heaven are opening.