This piano sonata was composed between 1798 and 1799.
Beethoven's tenth piano sonata is one of those sonatas whose lyricism and soft humor belies his exquisite artistry.
The first movement, for example, has several themes that are certainly different; the first is quite Bachian, the second is typical Viennese, the third is similar to a duet. They are definitely not contrasting in the classic sense of the word. There is a clever rhythmic trick from the opening measure, where the song enters half a beat before you hear it, you will definitely hear the first beat with your left hand, now try to listen to it "correctly and carefully" and the whole movement will transform in your head. , establishing a subtle but definite moment of rhythmic disorientation as the high-pitched melody enters bar four. And in shrewd recognition of this trick, Beethoven actually corrects this misleading rhythm in the coda.
The second movement is the first movement of theme and variation that Beethoven would put in his sonatas, explicitly humorous, although some variations are directly lyrical. The final movement, like the first, begins deep in rhythmic ambiguity, although unlike the first movement, this ambiguity is not hidden. The ingenuity with which Beethoven uses modulations and plays with the rondo form here is quite illustrative, intelligent; the coda, for example, contains the final third episode and the return of the theme. Like the second movement, the third movement has a fun ending, it builds up to a great glossy finish, fades to the bass.
Two interesting features accompany this sonata. The use of the variation form as a second movement marks the first in Beethoven sonatas, but represents a marriage that will become increasingly important, appearing again in the second movement of the Sonata No. 23, the last movement of Sonata No. 30, and Sonata No. 32. The second feature is the use of the term Scherzo as a character indication, but not in conjunction with a minuet and trio structure. This use occurs only once more in sonatas: second movement of the Sonata No. 18.
Both the first and third movements open optimistically, ushering in the tonic preceded by a pair of changing notes, in bars 2 of the first movement and bars 3 and 4 in the third.
The exposition presents key traditional relationships, being the second thematic area the dominant one.
The first sources are not clear if the sextillos should be played in two series of three or three series of two. The editors' recommendations differ.
An unusually long closure section of new material is featured.
The first theme is expressed in G minor and the second in B flat major.
The first theme returns in the left hand, with triplets in the right hand, creating a polyrhythmic challenge that moves through A♭ major, G minor, and F minor and stops at a dominant seventh in E flat major.
The first theme returns in E♭ major and is extended in the left hand with thirty-second scales in the right hand in bars 107 to 114. A fragment of the theme's opening serves as a transition to the recapitulation.
Like the exhibition, the recap is traditional.
A short coda based on the main theme closes the movement.
The theme has a two-part structure, the first part eight with eight bars long and the second with twelve. The first part should not be repeated; the second part is repeated. The variations of the theme are rhythmically more active with each variation, this procedure was typical of the variations of the classical period. It is sometimes called rhythmic crescendo. Note values are often shortened to create more activity without changing the tempo. In this set of variations, Beethoven is able to sustain the Rhythmic Crescendo until the end of the movement, because there are only three variations. When there are more variations this procedure reaches its limit and must be discontinued, usually after the third or fourth variation.
The first variation places the melody on the left. hand with a syncopated accompaniment on the right, leaving an impression of increased activity.
This variation features a left side disjointed accompaniment in eighth notes with continuation syncopation in the right hand.
A four-measure interlude links the second and third variations. Beethoven also uses interludes between variations in the ending movement of the Sonata No. 32.
The final variation combines a left-hand legato line with broken chords in sixteenth notes to the right hand. Four measures indicating the opening phrase of the theme act as coda.
The structure is unusual in its imbalance, a feature that enhances the joy of movement.
The section B is in E minor, very short and features bursts of 16th note triplets.
A longer, lyrical C section in C major unfolds with its own ABA pattern.
After a fun transition based on the first theme material, the first theme returns in measure 139 and is extended with a strong dominant preparation.
A long coda features cadence-like material twice and ends with a return of fragments from the opening theme.