Beethoven's piano sonata Op. 2 No. 3, first movement, bars 179-180 (Henle edition). Beethoven Op 2 No 3 bars 179-180

The turn decorating each eighth note can be played literally. Except for the one on bar 179's A sharp, because there's no good candidate for that turn's lower auxiliary note. G natural is too low. G sharp is harmonically bogus. G double sharp is Chopin, not Beethoven.

So should the B - A sharp with turn be instead simplified into a B with turn, where A sharp is the lower auxiliary?

Should the dozen similar instances also be simplified thus?

I prefer arguments stronger than so-and-so recorded it like such-and-such.

Edit: A turn with a tiny sharp underneath occurs in bar 27 and in bar 161, both in the Henle and in the first edition (p. 32 bottom, p. 36 middle; although here the sharp is above, not underneath). Had Beethoven wanted the Casella interpretation, he would have notated it that way too: a quarter note B with a turn plus sharp. So we can't explain the Casella as a modernization of an archaic spelling.

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    Hehe... "G double sharp is Chopin, not Beethoven" made me smile. :-) – pr1268 Dec 29 '18 at 7:16

Take a look at the first edition: http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/b/b1/IMSLP51972-PMLP01414-Beethoven_-_Piano_Sonata_No.3_(Artaria).pdf

Beethoven Op2 n3 mvtI m179

Inverted symbol but of course it's not an inverted turn.

Now take a look at edition Casella 1919 http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/8/81/IMSLP68708-PMLP01414-Opus_2_no_3.pdf The figure is to be played as noted here.Beethoven Op2 n3 mvtI m179 edition Casella 1919

  • Camille it’s probably Beethoven’s shorthand for what Casella has notated. – Richard Barber Dec 29 '18 at 18:49
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    Why would Casella be a credible source? In 1919 Beethoven was long dead and HIP hadn’t been invented, leading to a lot of truly horrible editions. Why is Casella an exception? Additionally, the turn on the lower note being a shorthand is absolute nonsense since you get exactly what Casella notates if you turn the first of each four eighth note group into a quarter and put the turn on the second half which would be just as short (or arguably shorter) yet not ambiguous. – 11684 Dec 30 '18 at 9:48
  • (For some readers: HIP means en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historically_informed_performance) – Camille Goudeseune Dec 30 '18 at 21:40
  • At first glance, to my ears I hear of what is in Henle and the 1st ed. as what you have described, quarter turn, eighth eighth. The chromatically altered lower neighbor has the turn symbol; the short hand we use today is a small accidental under the turn symbol. Next time I'm at the Beethoven Center I'll have to enquire about the figure. – Richard Barber Dec 30 '18 at 23:18
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    This is fascinating. I don’t know anything about the believability of Casella, but it’s intriguing that their version does create a textbook example of a turn, but it’s a turn ornamenting the first note rather than the second. It doesn’t seem like a completely implausible interpretation, but I agree that I’d want more documentation. – Pat Muchmore Jan 1 at 17:57

Shai Wosner takes the turns as given by Casella. But Paavali Jumppanen treats each turn as if the note it's with is the turn's principal note. He plays G double sharp.


Beethoven goofed. It's up to individual taste whether to play Casella's triplets or literal turns. But at a fast enough tempo and with some pedal, the unbeethovenian G double sharp can be tolerably overlooked in the resulting flurry.

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