In his life, Beethoven only wrote five cello sonatas. But, like his larger sets [the 9 symphonies, the 16 string quartets, and the 32 piano sonatas], they span through his career, and each designated “period” has a corresponding cello sonata. The first two, Op.5, were written while Beethoven was still establishing himself as a composer, and back then, that also meant performer. Cello sonatas weren’t a distinct genre back then, and typically they were works for cello with continuo or they were the other way around; piano with cello obbligato. The first two were vehicles for Beethoven’s pianistic technique, with the cello commenting but surely being out-shined. The audiences at the time probably had their jaws dropping. But years later, now going into his middle period, at op. 69 he publishes this sonata. Instead of one instrument out weighing the other, both are balanced entities. And, despite the fact this was also around the time that Beethoven was depressed and suicidal due to his increasing deafness, this work is full of brightness, sunlight, smiles. All of these qualities are handled with a classical-minded grace, and intentionality. And by keeping the cello and piano at equal levels of importance and development, this work, in a way, shaped how the entire genre of the cello sonata should be.