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This first movement, a marvelous example of a sonata form constructed from a single theme, begins with what would appear to be the “bare bones” of a melody. This curious little theme, however, falling through the tonic triad and with its downward leaps of a seventh, possesses a beguiling humor and as the greatest composers have always shown: much can come from little. Fulfilling the requirements of sonata form, the theme recurs again, somewhat modified and in the key of the dominant, as the movement’s second theme. Throughout the first movement, the melody is subjected to a range of treatments—at times, itself being embellished by ornaments, at others, being accompanied by sweeping scales or countermelodies. A most interesting transformation of the melody comes near the end of the recapitulation where it is presented as a smooth legato line with its leaping sevenths transformed into harmonious 7-6 suspensions. Also, significant use of counterpoint is present, not only in the first movement, but throughout much of the piece and at times the texture almost gives one the impression of a Baroque keyboard piece.

Switching to an Adagio tempo and the key of the subdominant, the second movement is technically and emotionally challenging. The style of the movement is quite intricate and amply shows the intellectual prowess of its composer. Set in ternary form, the lyrical opening F major melody is contrasted by a middle section beginning with graceful descending C major scales. An embellished and somewhat altered return of the opening F major section rounds out the movement.

The finale, back in the tonic key of C major, is sheer mischievous humor. Its principal melody seems harmless enough until it abruptly, and one might even say rudely, ends with its leading note harmonized, not by the dominant chord, but by a first inversion on D sharp! Like the first movement, the entire movement is built from a single theme, though in this instance, the degree of variation is much less broad. If the first two movements of the sonata where an exercise in skill, then the finale can be nothing else than an exercise in wit.

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