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Beethoven’s next-to-last piano sonata (No. 31 in A-flat Major, Opus 110) contains one of his shortest but most inspired movements. The third movement is called Recitative and Cavatina. A cavatina is a song, and this song is subtitled "Klagende Gesang" (Song of Sorrow.) It is one of the most poignant and memorable melodies Beethoven ever composed. But what, one has to ask oneself, is a short song doing in the middle of a piano sonata, of all places? – especially in one of Beethoven’s very last works. Quite simply, it is a song of farewell. In the recitative that introduces the cavatina, Beethoven is speaking directly to us – except there are no words. This movement lends itself to an arrangement for an eloquent solo instrument, such as the flute or violin, and a string orchestra (to express the soft pulsating, harmonically rich accompaniment.)
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