Among Vienna’s many composers and pianists of the time, Anton Eberl (1765–1807) was the one considered most worthy of comparison with Beethoven. His Sonata in A minor, Op. 10 No. 1, probably the third of his seven sonatas with violin, was published with an optional basse – doubtless intended to be a part for a cellist – which permitted performance as a piano trio. The work was composed around 1800 and dedicated to Franz Joseph, Prince of Dietrichstein, an official at the St Petersburg court of Emperor Paul I of Russia. Eberl spent two periods in St Petersburg (1796–99, 1801–02) as Kapellmeister, performer and teacher, and this sonata was first published there. If contemporary reviewers had found Beethoven’s Sonatas Op. 12 with violin, published in 1799, challenging and ‘overladen with strange difficulties’, Eberl’s Op. 10 No. 1 was itself thought to be overlong and excessively complex. But in its duration, formal and harmonic novelty, and in the lively relationship between violin and keyboard, this A minor sonata shares much of the musical ambition and quality of Beethoven’s early works in this genre.
“Eberl’s idiosyncratic approach is evident in various harmonic and structural twists and his ability to surprise the listener, combined with strong and appealing thematic ideas. Eberl’s Sonata in A minor lies within the capabilities of proficient amateurs but can also offer a great deal of enjoyment to professional performers. The Mozartean Rondo third movement abounds in humour and classical deftness of touch, which continues to the calando - perdendosi ending (a device of which Eberl was fond, judging by the pieces I have encountered so far).”