Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Con fuoco

It has come to my attention that people are reading a post from last February about what I observe to be the probable definition of agitato.  I would like to add con fuoco to the boiling pot of problematic tempo indications.

In the process of reading the Minuet and Trio of Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 #3, I am struck by two things: the Minuet itself is marked dolce and the Trio seems to be anything but: a too easy triplet against quarter note beat, out of proportion to the density of the minuet.  But wait!  say I to myself: it reminds me of other Beethoven metric dilemmas.

In the E-flat Sonata Op. 31 No. 2, the final movement, marked con fuoco, is in 6/8 with decidedly counter-rhythmic articulations in the other hand which, by the way, I have never heard anyone observe in performance.  So what if con fuoco refers to the disagreement of eighth notes, one hand in twos, the other in three -- one on, the other off the beat.  Con fuoco is then internalized, the tension enormous, the music infinitely more fun and harder all at the same time instead of just being fast or faster.