Listening to Beethoven #30 – 2 Sonatinas for Piano


Beethoven with lyre and scroll, alluding to god Apollo (1838-1842)
Reproduction of an old photography of Bläser’s draft, around 1920 (Beethoven-Haus Bonn, photo documentation Stephan Ley, Volume VIII, No. 78)

2 Sonatinas for Piano Anh.5 (1790-92, Beethoven aged 21)

Dedication unknown
Duration 4′ and 5′

Sonatina in G major Anh.5 no.1
1 Moderato
2 Romanze
Sonatina in F major Anh.5 no.2
1 Allegro assai
2 Rondo

Listen

Background and Critical Reception

These two works, of tiny dimensions, are attributed to Beethoven with a suspected year of composition between 1790 and 1792. The unusual numbering of Anh.5 comes from the 1955 catalogue of Beethoven works put together by Georg Kinsky and Hans Halm. ‘Anh’ is an abbreviation for ‘Anhang’, the German word for ‘appendix’, indicating that Beethoven’s authorship remains in doubt.

Were the pieces genuine they would fall towards the end of Beethoven’s time in Bonn. Both works are in two movements, and are mostly suitable for beginners.

Thoughts

Regardless of whether Beethoven wrote these pieces or not, they are a good deal of fun – and one (the F major work) contains a proper earworm.

The G major’s Moderato first movement flows easily on the ear, with a polite theme – and the Romanze, more obviously childlike, is equally easy to listen to.

The F major work appears to be in a bit of a hurry in its first movement, with a few lightly mischievous touches to its phrasing. It is in the second movement, a Rondo, where the earworm appears – and again there are a few mischievous touches round the end. With the emphasis almost entirely on that single tune it is well set in the inner ear by the end!

Recordings used

Tobias Koch (DG)
Ronald Brautigam (BIS)

Brautigam’s fortepiano can sound a little clinical with a harsher edge applied in the Romanze, but he gives charming accounts of both Sonatinas. Tobias Koch is also charming in his versions.

Spotify links

Tobias Koch

Ronald Brautigam

You can chart the Arcana Beethoven playlist as it grows, with one recommended version of each piece we listen to. Catch up here!

Also written in 1792 Haydn 12 Minuets, Hob.IX:11

Next up 2 Sonatinas for Piano Anh.5

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