by Sir WALTER MORLEY FLETCHER , F.R.S., ' Medical Research ' SIR WALTER MORLEY FLETCHER is now Secretary of the Medical Research Council of the Privy Council. He was formerly Senior
Tutor of Trinity College, Cambridge, and has served on medical committees for the Army, Navy and Air Force.
Sir Walter Morley
interpreted by MAURICE COLE
Sonata in A Major, Op. 2, No. 2 (Movements 1 and 2)
If a musician were to be marooned on a desert island with a piano and but one volume out of all tho music written for it, there is little doubt as to his choice of composer. If there were no relaxation of the stern decree 'one volume only,' then Beethoven it would have to be in the end, however sad the glances cast at the works of Chopin, Schumann, or Brahms.
No one ranges over the whole field of emotion in keyboard music as docs Beethoven, and in no other composer's works can the wonderful development of personality and power in this medium be so readily and so fascinatingly traced as in his Sonatas.
There is a certain amount of value in roughly dividing Beethoven's works into three ' periods ' -the First, that in which he is learning his job, so to speak, showing tho influence of the styles of Haydn (whoso pupil ho was for a time) and of Mozart, but using their general lines of construction and their harmonies with quickly growing individuality. In this period we may conveniently place his Sonatas from Op. 2 (the first) to Op. 22. In tho Second Period (that in which ho becomes a full, free citizen of his empire, complete master of his resources, mature in thought and expression) we may place Op. 2G to 90 ; and in the Third Period, the last five Sonatas, Op. 101, 106, 109, 110, and 111, in which we find the giant adapting and moulding the old forms (sometimes breaking the moulds altogether and creating new), and reaching out to heights of expression to which no musician had ever before aspired.
Tho Sonatas we are to hear this week belong to the first two periods, and will be found, almost without exception, easy hearing even to those not familiar with them. It must be remembered that though Mozart and Haydn had put grace and gaiety, and sometimes deep feeling, into their pianoforte Sonatas, it was not in these works that their powers as emotional artists were best exhibited. Tho chief way in which the Sonatas of Beethoven overtop those of his forerunners is in their deeper emotional and dramatic life.
This element of ' informal drama,' as Wagner called it, is not, of course, constantly present in every single work of a master, or in all the parts of a work; but it is almost always to be found in his bigger works, and in Beethoven's Sonatas it is never absent for long. Once one begins to think of great music in this way it becomes much more absorbing and interesting than when it merely appeared to consist of more or less pleasant sound-patterns.
The early Sonata of which half is played to-night is pellucid, fresh, and happy. The First MOVEMENT (Quick and vivacious) is in the usual form, built on two Main Tunes. The First (heard right at the start) is a bold decisive theme, and the Second, that comes after a moment or two of somewhat hesitating music, is in a minor-key, expressive, and a trifle meditative-perhaps a suggestion of that reflective side of boisterous youth that sometimes peeps out for an instant. As in most ' First Movements ' of Sonatas, the general plan of treatment here is that of announcing tho two chief themes, in different keys (the second of them frequently longer than the first and sometimes consisting of more than one idea), then ' developing ' them and sending them off on their adventures.