A Mystical Experience
Some pianists get angry when anyone refers to Beethoven’s Opus 111, the Piano Sonata n. 32, as the composer’s “swing sonata,” or “the one with the jazz movement.” But it’s very hard not to be reminded of jazz, or some kind of “proto-jazz” at least, when listening to the delightfully syncopated arpeggios midway into the second movement. And that’s not the only thing that makes this sonata so appealing to both connoisseurs and classical amateurs: the work’s strong emotional prelude is followed by rarefied atmospheres that flow into a joyous final stretch, perfectly expressing Beethoven’s love for the Romantic- era ideal of a “brotherhood of men,” combined with the sense of forgiveness towards humanity he felt in his last days. Written when the composer was completely deaf, this was also his last sonata. Pianist Alfred Brendel once said that “nowhere else in piano literature does mystical experience feel so immediately close at hand.“Skeptical?