BEETHOVEN Andante in F Major, WoO 57, “Andante favori”
The “Waldstein” Sonata of 1803–1804 exemplifies the boldly heroic style of Beethoven’s middle period. Heeding a friend’s advice, he published the original slow movement separately as the “Andante favori” and replaced it with a brief Adagio molto that tied the fast movements together in a decidedly unconventional fashion.
BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 18 in E-flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3
Beethoven’s three Op. 31 sonatas mark a watershed between the polished Classicism of his early works and the more raw, elemental Romanticism of his middle period. Like its immediate predecessor, “The Tempest” Sonata, the Sonata in E-flat Major is decidedly adventurous in its handling of harmony, rhythm, and thematic development.
SCHUMANN Bunte Blätter, Op. 99; Presto passionato in G Minor for Piano
Schumann epitomized the Romantic spirit in his affinity for small-scale musical forms and the value he placed on emotional freedom. Both characteristics are evident in the 14 short pieces that comprise Bunte Blätter (Colored Leaves), and in the virtuosic Presto passionato which, like Beethoven’s “Andante favori,” is a movement excised from a longer work.
PROKOFIEV Piano Sonata No. 8 in B-flat Major, Op. 84
The Sonata in B-flat Major is the last of the three “war sonatas” that Prokofiev wrote in Russia during World War II. The dreamily romantic character of the first two movements may reflect the composer’s love for Mira Mendelson, an ambitious young writer who would become his second wife in 1948.