Composed in 1809; Published in 1810
This is the second of three relatively brief sonatas that followed the Appassionata. Beethoven described it in a letter to his publisher as Sonatine facile. However, although of sonatina length, it is not sonatina-like in its detailed working out; nor is it particularly facile to jouer.
The opening movement is marked Presto alla Tedesca (i.e. a fast waltz). Toward the beginning of the Development section, Beethoven discovered that, if you eliminate the first note of the opening three-note theme, you are left with a falling motive that sounds like a cuckoo clock. His amusement at this discovery knows no bounds! He repeats it for us time and time again. Then, at the end of the movement, he has another go or two at the idea, just to ensure we have not forgotten his jest.
The lilting, melancholy second movement forecasts the Venetian Boat Songs of Mendelssohn, while the finale is a miniature rondo in which the main theme alternates with two epigrammatic sections. (Beethoven would use that theme again in the first movement of the sonata, Op. 109.) The coda provides a surprise ending that perfectly sums up the jocular mood of this delightful movement.
—Notes by Robert Silverman