Toccata in G major BWV 916 Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)
Its bright G-major tonality and clear three-movement form distinguish BWV 916 from Bach’s other toccatas. The lost copy of Heinrich Gerber contains the title Concerto seu Toccata pour le Clavecin (Concerto or Toccata for Harpsichord). It was during the Weimar period that Bach became familiar with the Italian-style concerto by transcribing instrumental works by Albinoni, Vivaldi and Telemann. Bach designed his Toccata in G major in concerto layout by employing the distinctive ritornello element in the opening phrase of the Allegro while following the German tradition of inserting the Fugue. The joyful first movement is followed by a beautiful slow Andante which is highly expressive and recitative-like. The slow tempo suggests a certain freedom for the performer in the realization of ornaments.
Despite its contrapuntal framework, the fugue’s skipping, dotted rhythms correspond with the French canarie (gigue). The toccata concludes with scales cascading down, followed by a long silence. It is worth noting that Bach wrote a fermata after this last note, and as Schulenberg states, “such ending is not unknown in German organ music, although in the present context it also suggests Italian wit or bizzarria.” Because of its formal organization and overall mood, this Toccata is often compared to Bach’s Italian Concerto BWV 971. These two works could have been composed around 1713, the year in which Bach made his organ and harpsichord concerto transcriptions.
Grand Sonata in E flat major, Op. 7 No.4 Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)
The E-flat major sonata Op. 7, composed in 1796 first published in Artaria, Vienna, in 1797. It is the composer’s longest piano sonata, and written in a key Beethoven often used for majestic, heroic works.
It’s the first work that Beethoven entitled “Grand sonata” and its four movements work both individually and collectively. It was written for one of his most gifted piano pupils, the young Countess Babette von Keglevics. She lived so close to the composer in Vienna that he came to her piano lessons quite often in his slippers. The sonata is Beethoven’s broadest in structure, yet also one of his most virtuosic.
Because the sonata is like adolescence in its search for independence, the effect of the work is unbalanced and has persuasive straightforwardness. Op.7 is a work that remains for all time “in progress”, complete in the usual sense, but more like the spirit of the adolescent. After the phenomenon of Beethoven, there is no doubt it was difficult for composers after him to write sonatas.