1 Allegro Con Brio
The first movement is in the sonata form. Based on a beautiful, flowing and lyrical melody, the second violins introduce the contrasting second theme in an inner voice. The piano enters as a soloist, playing a new idea quietly and unassumingly as if it is not in the orchestra. It plays a short development section that contains a wonderfully mysterious series of pianissimo descending scales. Both the repeat of the exposition and the recapitulation contain many other highly effective developmental ideas, extending the length of the movement and foreshadowing the techniques in Beethoven’s later works.
The second movement is in the remote key of A♭ major, with a beautiful but restrained melody. The repetition in this movement creates a sense of a story unfolding, very much like in the first movement. The clarinets have an unusually prominent role in this movement, playing the melody as often as the violins.
3 Rondo. Allegro Scherzando.
The final movement opens with a piano solo playing the main theme, which is then joined by the orchestra. There are two short cadenzas in this movement – one just before the final return to the main theme, and another immediately before the end of the movement. The movement finishes with a striking dynamic contrast, where the piano plays a quiet melody, and the orchestra ends with a forceful strength.