Beethoven's Logic 4

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John Ruggero
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Beethoven's Logic 4

Post by John Ruggero »

The following case of unusual note distribution occurs in the last movement of Beethoven's Sonata op. 2 no. 3. It almost certainly is Beethoven's notation in the lost MS; no engraver would have come up with this on their own:
Logic ex 1.jpeg
Logic ex 1.jpeg (166.28 KiB) Viewed 4696 times
Starting at A three pairs of V-I resolving chords continue from the previous similar groups of four chords (all shown by the arrows) to end the section. At A, the the lowest voice is placed on the lower staff to avoid ledger lines as expected. But at B, the logic seems to break down: all three voices do not move to the lower staff. The upper voice remains on the upper staff despite the required ledger lines; then it suddenly moves to the lower staff at C.

Beethoven's logic?

1. He wants to show A, B and C gradually sinking into the lower staff as the music itself subsides. At A, one voice has descended; at B, two voices have descended; and at C all three voices are on the lower staff.

2. Pianists often thin textures to produce or enhance various coloristic effects. In this case, Beethoven wants the upper voice to be brought out above the others at B to produce a more beautiful PP effect. This is not the only example of his use of note distribution to highlight certain voices.

3. By placing all the voices on the lower staff at C, the ending of the section more clearly contrasts with the upper-staff start of the following sf and staccatp transitional section.
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