♫ So, now we come to the G Major sonata, op. 14 no. 2. I’ve saved this for last not just because it happens to be “no. 2” within this opus, but because to my ear, it is the more special and distinctive work. Just as there was no particular difference in scope between the two op. 49 sonatas, so it is with the two op. 14s: both have three movements, both take about fifteen minutes to play, neither has a true slow movement. But from beginning to end, op. 14 no. 2 makes a real impression: it has that same combination of gentle beauty and humor that you find in the preceding sonata, but both of those qualities are more firmly etched here. To simplify – perhaps oversimplify – that question, I’d say that the second and third movements are all about the humor, whereas the first movement is all about the beauty. Beethoven has somehow acquired this reputation of either not being capable of great beauty, or if not that, certainly of eschewing it in favor or more complicated, perhaps more interesting qualities: this is one of so many movements that gives that idea the lie. In that way, I hear this movement as being a kind of pre-cursor to the glorious second movement of the sonata Op. 90: ♫ Its great warmth is its own point – it doesn’t need to be at the service of something greater. So, here then is the exposition of the first movement of op. 14 no. 2. ♫ Now, the opening theme is a perfect demonstration of this “beauty-for-beauty’s-sake” quality. Its “bones” are not that interesting – really, just a very simple chain of descending triads. ♫ It is its ornamentation – its embellishment – that gives it character. ♫ There is also a yearning quality in this theme, on account of the very large intervals within it. First a rise of an octave. ♫ And then the even larger rise of a tenth. ♫ And then a series of sighing falls to match: a seventh, then a sixth, and finally a ninth. ♫ I’ve said it before, but falling intervals in particular are always a musical shorthand for longing, and they give this extremely lovely theme just a twinge of nostalgia. So, this is a movement with three themes – on top of the essential first and second, there is a closing theme as well – and not one of these three takes us away from this gentle beauty which is its basic nature. The second theme has a playful note about it, ♫ but the closing theme is very much in keeping with the opening – dolce, with a bit of yearning: sweet sadness. ♫ As this movement is defined by its beauty and certainly is no kind of structural marvel, I feel fine again passing over the development and recapitulation. The wonderful coda, however, demands our attention. It grows out of an expanded version of the closing theme. When that theme came in the exposition, it had three components, the third of which came to a very simple cadence. ♫ In the recapitulation, however, that third part of the phrase blossoms into something far more generous. ♫ This blossoming leads us to the coda, which is based on the opening theme, and exploits its rising intervals to maximum effect: they get larger and larger, culminating in a tenth at the very top of Beethoven’s piano. ♫ Even though the character remains beautifully dolce, there is a real Beethoven intensity to it. As I’ve said so often, even when Beethoven’s music is lyrical in character, it is lyrical in a big way, and this movement, despite its surface modesty, is perfect evidence of this. It doesn’t have the ambition or scope of the first movements of other early period sonatas, but this lyrical intensity makes it, unlike the op. 49s and even somewhat unlike op. 14 no. 1, vintage Beethoven.