Minuet in D, Biamonti 252 (completion by Willem) (mp3)
This sketch is from the Landsberg 7-sketchbook, and therefore dates, like the Biamonti 228 and 249-sketches, from 1800.
At first sight there are several striking similarities between this sketch and the one for Biamonti 249: both are in D major, in both cases Beethoven indicates a contrapuntal writing in the first few bars, and both start with the same harmonic formula: I - VI - IV. This poses the question whether these may be different sketches for the same piece. The answer has to be an emphatic: no!
While in the case of Biamonti 249 the working out of the sketch results in a languishing decadence, the same technical features give rise to something very different in the case of Biamonti 252, namely the majesty and splendour of a George Frederic Handel.
Beethoven had become familiar with the works by Handel through Baron van Swieten, the Dutch ambassador to Vienna, who was a big fan of baroque composers like J.S. Bach and Handel. Beethoven was deeply impressed by Handel, whom he regarded even more highly than Mozart.
It's therefore not surprising that Beethoven attempted an orchestral piece in the manner of Handel as early as 1800. Eventually he would write such a piece only 22 years later: the Overture for the Consecration of the House, op.124.
The learnedness of the writing of the Biamonti 252 Minuet contrasts sharply with the apparent silliness of its Trio. In the sketch the Trio is little more than a single motif, repeated 24 times. Two additional notes hint at a counter melody. When worked out, the Trio takes on a pastoral mood.
It's possible that the three sketches, Biamonti 228, 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.