Serenade in D major, Op. 25

Beethoven wrote only a few works in the 18th-century divertimento tradition: these include, above all, the Septet in E-flat major (op. 20) and the two serenades in D major – one for string trio (op. 8) and one for flute, violin and viola.

 

The present work is in six movements, but not one is in sonata form, which shows that Beethoven strove for a lighter touch with simpler musical structures (four of the six movements are in A-B-A form). The opening movement (marked "Entrata") is essentially a march and begins with a trumpet signal disguised as a flute solo. The middle section continues the ideas presented earlier, rather than offering a contrast. The second-movement minuet has not one but two trios, with virtuoso passagework for the two string instruments in the first trio, and for the flute in the second.

 

The third movement is a short "Allegro molto" in D minor that is a scherzo in all but name: the short melodic phrases and accented notes on the upbeat make that clear. After a brief middle section in D major, the opening section returns, augmented by a witty coda.

 

Next comes the only slow movement in the work, an "Andante" whose graceful melody is followed by three variations – one for each instrument to shine in. The fifth movement, "Allegro scherzando e vivace," is really another minuet. It uses a characteristic dotted rhythm throughout, contrasted with an even eighth-note motion in the D-minor middle section. The Finale is preceded by a gentle "Adagio" introduction; the fast tempo (with the unusual tempo marking "Allegro vivace e desinvolto," or "fast, lively and unconstrained") brings a profusion of engaging melodies and virtuosic runs, arranged in the framework of a rondo form, with a main theme alternating with episodes. In a typically Beethovenian gesture, the concluding section speeds up considerably, changing the tempo marking to "Presto" and bringing the excitement to a peak in the final moment.