Composed between 1796 and 1798.
The sixth sonata has earned a reputation as one of Beethoven's least important sonatas. Is it because of its short duration? The truth is that any reasonably objective look will show that it really is one of the best.
The first movement explodes with innovative touches, the exuberant lyrical sonority of the first theme of the second thematic group that uses harmonies of major sevenths, the really unexpected harmonic turns; In the first part of the first movement, we have a fascinating transition from Fa to Mi, and then, without any preparation, we go from Mi to Do. A radical harmonic management for the transition of thematic groups. The development section that stubbornly avoids any connection to the exposition with the exception of a tiny ending phrase, and a recap that begins in Re, such a distant key from Fa, it seems that the tonal tension that must have been found in the development has built up precisely in the recapitulation.
The second movement continues the characteristic feature of this sonata, that of experimentation with sound. Technically it's kind of a minuet-trio, but texturally it's more of a gloomy trifle, again with beautiful textures upon the return of the minuet.
The last movement is one of the best things Beethoven has ever written; a mischievous, scampering, hyper-orchestral thing that never looks anything like a proper fugue, but sounds a lot like a fugue, and contains sudden windows of translucent, luminous light.
This work is lively and charming with touches of robustness and humor. A type of minuet and trio in a moderate tempo serves as a movement. The final movement is a perpetual motion composition, a variant of the sonata form with a compressed exposition, a development using the first and second theme, and a rewritten recapitulation containing modulations of the development.
Measures 5 through 8 of the first movement feature an ascending line that stops at notes F, A, and C. The opening theme of the fourth movement features the same ascending tones in a different register using repeated notes.
Although the expected tonic-dominant relationship exists between the first and second subject areas, the Movement presents a variety of fleeting surprise harmonies, as if it were a playful and skillful improvisation.
Two tonic chords followed by triplet sixteenth notes open the movement. Compare the articulation of this sixteenth triplet with that of the first movement of the Sonata No. 1 in bar 2, for example. Here the figure does not extend to the next quarter note in staccato, whereas in the previous work it does. Here the quarter note should not be treated as the end of a phrase, but rather, as the beat of a new measure.
The second part of the opening theme consists of a four-measure lyric line that rises through a range of more than an octave, followed by a response that features a short trill, a three-note slide, and a dotted rhythmic pattern.
The opening chords return in altered harmony, leading to the dominant of a minor.
The lyrical upline returns with a sixteenth note. Left accompaniment, now in C major and modulating to G major.
The second theme is a four-bar harmonic, a progression in C major, moving to C minor, then with a surprise resolution in D major in bars 43 to 44, and returning to C major.
A closing section in C major features three measures of long closing trills with post-notes, two of them played by the right hand crossed over the left.
The playing of Beethoven is evident that the development section consists mainly of presenting the last three octaves of the show's cadence in a variety of tones, avoiding the many other ideas from the show that could have been used. .
The last three notes of the exposition open in A minor and modulate in D minor. Accompanied by a triplet figure.
The triplet backing expands into a new broken octave track that opens in D minor and moves to G minor and B ♭ major.
The three-note pattern that opened the development returns in B♭ major, B♭ minor, and F minor. The passage ends with a half cadence leading to D major, using a sparse, wide-range texture followed by a fermata, a device that suggests that the player is concerned that he reached the recap in the wrong key.
The first theme is stated in D major at bar 129. Then, following a rhythmic rest, D major becomes the G minor dominant, which in turn acts as the supertonic of the opening tone, F major. The figure of the triplet is repeated several times as a celebration of having found the way back to the opening tone, which then presents the balance of the first thematic material.
A change of course features the first thematic material in the left hand in F minor and E♭ major, acting as the dominant of A♭ major.
The second theme opens on the tonic and develops regularly. The closing section, also in F major, extends its final cadence once more, the movement that ends abruptly with the three octaves that closed the exposition and were used extensively in the development.
This movement is based on the minuet and the trio, but not designated either a minuet or a scherzo. Various irregularities occur in this movement. In the middle section in D-flat trio, the repeats in both halves are written to make small figurative variations. The return per day is not indicated but it is written. The section A is reproduced twice, once it appeared initially and then with variations. The section B varies at the beginning and is played only once.
The exposition is very short with only 27 measures.
The opening theme is imitative and initially appears to be written in voice levels. The highest voice enters the dominant, C major, at measure 9 and clearly cadences in pitch by measure 18.
What serves as the second theme or closing theme uses the same rhythmic patterns as the opening theme, creating a strong sense of unity for the exposition.
The opening theme is presented in A♭ major and modulates in D♭ minor, then in F minor.
A fragment of the opening theme is presented in imitation at various levels of voice that pass through C minor, G minor and D minor, coming to rest on a dominant that forms in D major.
The second thematic idea of the exposition is enunciated in D major and passes to the dominant one at the beginning, F major, in preparation for the recapitulation.
The recapitulation is substantially rewritten: sixteen notes and the tremolo figuration accompany a lengthy statement of the first theme. The second theme is developed more as it appeared in the exhibition, except in different registers and slightly enlarged.
The first theme in altered form enters F major and passes through G minor, B♭ major and D♭ minor.
The second thematic idea is stated in F major, broadened, and ends with descending octaves with the right hand, the device being so abrupt as to possibly evoke a final laugh.