♫ Beethoven remains on message in the development – the second theme in no way features, instead it’s all those two components of the opening, all the time. In terms of character though, most of the development is far darker than the exposition was. The development begins in identical fashion to the beginning of the piece, but whereas in the opening, the fourth bar set us on a harmonic path towards glorious e flat major home, ♫ in the development, that fourth bar – the point where the music diverges from the opening – takes us instead into c minor. ♫ You’ll hear that Beethoven again uses a hemiola to increase the urgency; this movement is filled with hemiolas. ♫ So, while the c minor does quickly give way to major, there are lots of dark undercurrents. ♫ Moving on, Beethoven continues to give a sinister edge to what could be playful. ♫ Again, we have the short-short-short-long, but the intervals ♫ bring a real tension, undercutting the bounciness of the right hand accompaniment. ♫ Beethoven is always fantastically resourceful with his material – that's one of his signature qualities, his ability to mold and shape and twist and will his material into what he wishes it to be. But this material is really unusually malleable in character – it has so many facets, and Beethoven, by putting different ones in the forefront at different moments, continually reshapes its meaning. And in this development, it is the material’s anxious edge that dominates. So, a “normal” sonata’s recapitulation features a strong V-I cadence: “We’re home!” ♫ But Op. 31 no. 3 is not, in this sense, a normal sonata. It doesn’t begin harmonically at home, so the recapitulation, almost by definition, cannot be a harmonic return home. What happens, instead, is very moving. ♫ Again, the “normal” course of events involves the recapitulation being a/the moment of certainty, after we’ve been wandering in the harmonic desert in the development. Here, the script is flipped: the development features the most sturdy, forthright version of op. 31 no. 3’s material, and the recap arrives at the moment when the energy has waned, the texture has thinned, and what we’re left with is bare and, more importantly, fragile. ♫ In the beginning, there was a chord – not a tonic chord, not a stable chord, but at least a chord, bolstering things. ♫ Now, we have just single notes, a unison. ♫ It is an exact motivic return, and it soon leads to the very same material and the very same cadence we heard eight bars into the piece, ♫ but this inversion of the sonata form norms, this turning a moment that should be celebratory, or at least solid, and making it a massive musical, emotional question mark, really drives home how inventive this piece is, subtle as it may be. So, we don’t have to dig into every note of it “just because” – the recapitulation is fairly by-the-book. But there is a substantial, and very beautiful coda, which I think I will just play in its entirety. ♫ Codas often put a “cap” on a movement, not just resolving structural questions, but bringing an extra bit of emphasis to whatever character the music had. To whatever extent that is the case here, what is being emphasized is ambivalence, if such a thing is even possible. The short-short-short long sequence is extended much longer, covering more harmonic territory and asking more questions. ♫ And when it comes again, when we get this phrase ♫ for what is, if the movement’s repeat is observed, the eighth (!) and final time, rather than being more triumphant, more final, more of an apotheosis, it is the ONLY one of the eight times that it has no crescendo, and that it doesn’t lead to an accent. ♫ Modesty and ambiguity rule the day, to the very end. In fact, speaking of ambiguity, it seems fitting that the original source material for this sonata is inconclusive on whether the last two chords are loud or soft. The first published edition has them forte, ♫ but the manuscript suggests that they should remain piano. ♫ Maybe one is right and the other is wrong – Beethoven could easily have just neglected to mark the forte in the manuscript, and then corrected it in time for the first edition. But the fact that the two sources, both of which can be attributed to him, disagree about the dynamic, and therefore the character, in which this movement ends, that is the perfect metaphor for the movement as a whole – it is defined, and made memorable, by its uncertainty about itself.