Listening to Beethoven #122 – Allegretto in C minor, WoO 53 (second version)


Design for a Beethoven commemorative coin worth 5 Deutsche Mark, 1969, Stuttgart. Reproduced from the Beethoven-Haus Bonn with thanks.

Allegretto in C minor WoO 53 for piano (second version, published as Hess 66) (thought to be from 1796-7, Beethoven aged 26)

Dedication not known
Duration 3’15”

Listen

Background and Critical Reception

There is very little written about this piece, but the few surviving notes suggest it might be an unpublished movement intended for the Piano Sonata no.5 in C minor, published as the first in the Op.10 set around this time.

Thoughts

As noted in the original version, the mood is serious and a little pensive for the Allegretto. The revision appears to be a compression of the original form, giving it the leaner profile the sonata also inhabits. Yet the fact Beethoven spent time on a revision of the piece suggests he held it in high esteem.

The ‘parting of the clouds’ for the C major theme is not quite so obvious here, the music more obviously heading back to the minor key.

Recordings used and Spotify links

Sergio Gallo (Naxos)

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 1797 James Hewitt Piano Sonata in D major ‘The Battle of Trenton’

Next up Piano Sonata no.4 in E flat major Op.7

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