Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57, 2nd and 3rd movement
A continuation of Dénes Várjon masterclass featuring the Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57, 2nd and 3rd movement by Ludwig van Beethoven. Gaspard Thomas and Várjon work particularly on dynamics, accents, phrasing, and pedal use.
Dénes Várjon points out that every note in the piece plays an important role. A precise fingering technique on the arpeggiated runs can help create a cleaner sound. In his words, one must go into all the "cells and units" of each note to feel the connection of the flow of the piece. The notes may all be separated, but they are still connected to create an elaborate harmonic structure.
Building a harmonic structure.
Using the pedal and emitting a clean sound.
Paying attention to dynamic markings.
Differentiating the roles of each note.
Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor “Appassionata” Sonata was composed during one of the most prolific and transformational periods in the composer’s life. Having come to terms with his declining hearing and newly completed the revolutionary Eroica Symphony (Symphony No. 3), he had begun to push the limits of the rules of composition. He composed the “Appassionata” in 1804-05, and it has become known as one of his greatest and most expressive piano sonatas. The opening movement, Allegro assai, begins quietly but sinisterly. While it is in sonata form, the second theme is closely related to the first.
While the thematic material is unified, the other qualities in the music are turbulent. The movement is categorized by dramatic changes in mood and dynamics. The middle movement, Andante con moto, is a set of variations over a beautiful, simple melody that grows in agitation toward the finale. The final movement, Allegro ma non troppo - Presto, rips through almost continuous sixteenth notes at a furious tempo. The technically demanding, stormy finale accelerates to an even faster coda, culminating in one of Beethoven’s few tragic sonata endings.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this piano masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Dénes Várjon’s feedback and comments.
He won first prize in the Hungarian Radio Piano Competition, the Leo Weiner Chamber Music Competition in Budapest and the Géza Anda Competition in Zurich.
Dénes Várjon graduated from the Franz Liszt Music Academy in 1991, where his professors included Sándor Falvai, György Kurtág and Ferenc Rados. Now, Vàrjon is considered to be one of the greatest living chamber musicians, working regularly with pre-eminent partners such as Steven Isserlis, Tabea Zimmermann, Kim Kashkashian, Jörg Widmann, Leonidas Kavakos, András Schiff, Heinz Holliger, Miklós Perényi, and Joshua Bell. As a soloist, he has performed at numerous concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Konzerthaus, and Wigmore Hall. He is frequently invited to work with many of the world’s leading symphony orchestras such as the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and more. His recordings have received critical acclaim and he was the recipient of First Prize at the Piano Competition of Hungarian Radio, at the Leó Weiner Chamber Music Competition in Budapest, and at the Géza Anda Competition in Zurich. In 2020, Vàrjon received Hungary’s supreme award in culture, the Kossuth Prize.
Born in Bonn, Germany in 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the most mainstream references of Classicism — a pianist, composer, and an unequivocal genius. Descending from a long line of musicians, Beethoven studied music from an early age, beginning with the piano, clarinet, and the organ. At the ripe age of 11-years-old, Beethoven received his first job as a court organist, replacing his own teacher for a period of time. A veritable young prodigy, Beethoven was publicly compared to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and a few years later, the young musician traveled to Vienna to briefly study under the tutelage of Mozart himself. In his late 20s, Beethoven noticed difficulties with his hearing and by his mid 40s, he was completely deaf and unable to vocally communicate. Despite this misfortune, he remarkably continued to compose music. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 was written after he had entirely lost his hearing. While his early musical career heavily reflected the Viennese Classical tradition inherited by the likes of Mozart and Haydn, Beethoven achieved a unique revolutionary identity by the end of his career. Deceased in 1827, his wake was a public event that gathered around 10,000 people. Despite his passing, Beethoven’s legacy lives on. His works anticipated many of the features that would characterize music in the romantic era and even that of the 20th century.