Lost Notation 7

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John Ruggero
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Lost Notation 7

Post by John Ruggero »

With Beethoven even the smallest matters of notation can be meaningful. For this reason, I have found that one must tread very carefully when making what seem to be harmless cosmetic changes in his piano sonatas.

For example, in the last movement of his Piano Sonata op. 10 no 2, Beethoven places the sf markings at first over the left hand notes but then under the left hand notes:
op 10 no 2.3a 1st ed.jpeg
op 10 no 2.3a 1st ed.jpeg (150.78 KiB) Viewed 858 times
All the editions that I have consulted have modified this so that either the sf's are all over or all under the left hand notes:
op 10 no 2.3 Peters.jpeg
op 10 no 2.3 Peters.jpeg (210.52 KiB) Viewed 869 times
op 10 no 2.3 Schenker.jpeg
op 10 no 2.3 Schenker.jpeg (215.11 KiB) Viewed 869 times
But maybe Beethoven knew what he was doing?

When one looks carefully, we see that the music has become quite imitative at this point in a pseudo-fugal style. The tenor voice enters with the "subject' in the left hand and with the sf markings ABOVE before it is absorbed into the right hand at the arrow in the first example. At this point the bass voice enters in octaves with the sf markings BELOW. Beethoven distinguishes the two different voices by means of the sf markings with the sf above the tenor and sf below the bass as would be most natural if the voices were simultaneous rather than consecutive.This prevents the player from thinking that all the left hand half notes are just one voice and thus lose the imitative effect. Note that the soprano enters with its sf "subject" in the last five measures of the first example.
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