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The Grand Sonata No. 4 in E flat major, Op. 7, is one of the longest of all the sonatas. Beethoven considered it particularly important; this is evident not only in its title but also because it was published under its own opus number, an unusual procedure at the time, when an opus included two or sometimes three works. His contemporaries called it “Der Verliebte” (“The Lover”) because at the time it was thought that Beethoven was smitten with his pupil Countess Babette von Keglevics, to whom he dedicated it. According to Carl Czerny, Beethoven composed the sonata in a state of great passion. The names of the movements - molto allegro e con brio, largo, con gran expressionne and poco allegretto e grazioso - bear out the commentary. From the very first bars of the molto allegro the dimension of sound bears the listener on a crest of almost-symphonic dimensions. The second movement contains a barely inconceivably striking contrast: the pressing, all-consuming intensity is followed by quiet calm. In none of his other compositions did Beethoven so emphatically underline the musical importance of the pauses as he did in this largo. The third movement was initially designed to be a Bagatelle but was thereafter incorporated into the sonata. Its form resembles a scherzo; it nevertheless has a lyrical aspect. The rondo is one of Beethoven’s most delicate and sensuous pieces. The entire movement is characterised by the marvellous theme of the rondo, darkened only briefly by a passage of a fine filigree of notes in C minor. Beethoven’s exceptional mastery shows itself yet again when he emerges from the intermediary passage, characterised by anger and effervescence, to reach a finale that restores the ethereal grace that prevails in the piece.

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