(MUSIC) So, right after this extraordinary, nebulous opening, in what is in a sense the “middle section” of the introduction, we do get an actual theme, one that is much more harmonically and emotionally settled than the music of the opening. (MUSIC) Where the opening was hushed, this is open and vocal; where the opening was stunted, unable to blossom because it kept stopping, this is a generously spun, continuous line. But in spite of all of that, it falls short of being totally at ease – totally “normal”. Its accents are never, ever on the strong beats, which turns what would otherwise be a grounded melody into something a little bit nervier. (MUSIC) These quirky, almost willful accents make this theme seem less a destination than music on the road to some as-yet unknown place. Really, in spite of its slowness, this introduction might be the least “settled” music in the whole sonata. So, after that off-kilter melody, we return to the music of the opening – this introduction is a highly compact ABA form. The first time around, the opening came to a resolution, and led to the melodic “middle section”. (MUSIC) This time, though, that resolution fails to come, and instead the music goes off-course, growing MORE, not less agitated, unmoored. (MUSIC) This is a bit like the coda of the first movement in that despite having no real precedent, it's not a surprise: the music itself demands it. This movement as a whole has so conveyed the sense of being unsettled and repressed, this outburst feels almost preordained. And indeed, it is the event that takes us where we need to go: that G (MUSIC) is the dominant of C major, the sonata’s home key. And while at first it seems like it might be just another harmonic port of call in a movement full of them, Beethoven repeats it again and again, clarifying that it is more than that. (MUSIC) As you heard, at first the G comes in alternation with an A-flat (MUSIC), yet again blurring the line between major and minor. But eventually, the A-flats give way, and all that is left is that insistent G pedal in the bass (MUSIC). By now, we know where we are going. However, that doesn’t mean that Beethoven is ready to take us there – first, there is one fantastic detour. (MUSIC) This is one of the simplest of cadences: a very lightly dressed up IV-V-I. (MUSIC) Almost like a church hymn in its simplicity. And yet, for reasons that I am powerless to explain, it is also incredibly moving. It is yet one more example of Beethoven, who built extraordinarily complex structures time and again, knowing how profound simplicity can be, when employed at the right moment. After all of that wandering, the purity of that cadence takes the breath away. And it leads, in a completely divine way, into the first of Beethoven’s truly great finales for the piano.