With the arrival of the second movement, Beethoven yields. Beethoven loved toggling between extremes in his sonatas-- following an athletic or propulsive movement with a highly expansive one – and opus 10 no. 1 is an extreme case. If “Allegro molto e con brio” was the fastest marking Beethoven ever gave to a first movement, “Adagio molto”, which he uses here, is probably the slowest slow movement marking, slower even than Beethoven’s largos. “Adagio” does not, technically, mean “slow”– it is “at ease”, in Italian, but there is no question that for Beethoven, more than his predecessors, it was meant to be very spacious. We can glean this first of all from the music to which he gave this marking – it's never music with forward momentum, and whatever its character, it always has great gravity. But the accounts of Beethoven’s playing – such as the one by his famous student Czerny – they also tell us that Beethoven viewed “Adagio” as far slower than “Andante”. And here, the marking is not just “Adagio” but “Adagio molto”. If the first movement’s turbulence and defiance were the product, in large part, of its frenetic pace and its nonstop forward motion, here, the character of the music has everything to do with how totally unhurried it is. (MUSIC) The word for this is “oasis”. Coming out of c minor, we are now in A flat major, just like in the slow movement of the Pathetique. But whereas the pathetique’s slow movement has that gently undulating accompaniment, (MUSIC) here, at least at the outset, there is nothing making the music flow forward. Just as the fast pace of the first movement was underscored by its emphasis on small pulses, here the calm is enhanced by the lack of subdivision. (SINGING AND SNAPPING) Rather than (SINGING AND SNAPPING). Aside from being spacious, this is a wonderfully lyrical slow movement– again, in great contrast to the first movement. You know that Beethoven is being lyrical when he was inspirational to Schubert, and I’ve always thought this movement may have been in the back of Schubert’s mind when he wrote the slow movement to his own c minor Sonata, D. 958. Beethoven (MUSIC), and Schubert (MUSIC). They are far from identical, but the mood and the basic melodic shape have much in common. Note how in both cases, the very first gesture starts and ends on the same A flat. (MUSIC) This really heightens the sense of peacefulness, of being in no hurry to go somewhere new. On top of being Schubertian, this movement is often described as “Italianate”. It’s a term I find frustratingly vague, and I’m somewhat out of my element discussing 18th century national styles, but one thing “Italianate” means, certainly in this context, is “vocals”. Beethoven is responsible for many of the greatest slow movements ever written, but they are not always vocal in nature: put another way, they don’t always have themes that you can easily imagine someone singing. This is true, to a greater or lesser extent, of many of the sonatas we’ve already discussed: op. 7, op. 10 no. 2, certainly the Moonlight and Appassionata. The next lecture will cover the “Tempest” sonata, op. 31 no. 2. The opening of that slow movement (MUSIC), it covers so much territory, so many different registers, one person could never possibly sing it. (I suppose it could be a duet between two voices, but it really has never sounded that way to me.) But the theme of op. 10 no. 1's slow movement wants to be sung: it sits comfortably in one register, and is as close to “operatic” as any other early Beethoven slow movement. Also operatic– and, in fact, Italianate– is the way in which Beethoven varies the accompaniment with each appearance of the theme. The first time around, we simply get chords: (MUSIC). But at various other points, we get duples (MUSIC), sixteenths (MUSIC), and finally, a mixture of sixteenths and sextuplets, making the accompaniment an active partner to the melody itself. (MUSIC) This treatment of both melody and accompaniment is very suggestive of the bel canto style. So, too, is the florid writing that arrives with the transition to the movement’s B section. (MUSIC) This, again, is what bel canto style is all about: letting the singer show off both her beautiful line, and her agility. First we got the former; now comes the latter. And when the B section itself arrives, we get both in short order. (MUSIC) I love this side of Beethoven: rapt and profound, but at the same time, not averse to a little bit of display. We sometimes have this image of Beethoven as a bit holier-than-thou: his boisterous sense of humor should really be enough to dispel that, but the slightly indulgent aspect of this music is another way in which he reveals himself to be human – real.