Minuet in B-flat, Biamonti 228 (completion by Willem) (mp3)
The complete contuinity draft for this Minuet can be found in the Landsberg 7-sketchbook, as are those for the Minuets Biamonti 249 and 252, and dates from 1800. The draft gives the main voice for the whole piece. Although written on two staves, as if for piano, it gives only occasional indications for the bass-line.
The melody of the first four bars suggests a typical 18th century minuet, but is then followed by an energetic outburst so typical of Beethoven. This makes Biamonti 228 distance itself from the elegance with which we usually associate minuets. After the repeat of the first 8 bars, which is dictated by the formal structure of a minuet, the energetic outburst reaches a climax in the 2nd half of the 2nd phrase, after which a compromise between elegance and violance is reached: while the bass extends the initial melody, syncopes in the right hand give an echo of the outbursts.
The Trio has more clues regarding the intended sound-texture and accompaniment. Remarkably, it asks for the double-bass to carry the main melody, albeit in parallel octaves with other instruments. Beethoven would later use a similar orchestration for the opening of his Sixth Piano Concerto (Hess 15), also on this site.
In the previous year, 1799, Beethoven had met Dragonetti, a great virtuoso on the double-bass. He amazed Beethoven by playing the Cello Sonata op.5 no.2 on the double-bass. It's well conceivable that Beethoven was thinking of Dragonetti, and the unknown possibilities of his instrument, when he sketched the Trio for Biamonti 228.
The sketch required not much effort to complete. We may even ask why Beethoven didn't do so himself. The answer is, in all probability, that he simply didn't have the time. His sketchbooks testify that the musical ideas came to him in a constant flow. To work them all out would have taken more than one lifetime.
It's possible that Biamonti 228, together with the two other sketches, Biamonti 249 and 252, were intended for a dance-cycle like the Minuets WoO 7, or German Dances, WoO 8, from 1795. If that's so, then they seem to be a new departure, since they are of a heavier build, and more intellectual.
Completion by Willem. World premiere for the Unheard Beethoven.