No company of musicians and friends of art can be indifferent to the appearance of a second symphony by Beethoven. (...) It is a curiously colossal work, with a depth, power, and erudite artistry as few others; of a difficulty in design and execution ... as certainly none of the symphonies known thus far.’ These are the words with which the reviewer of the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung described Beethoven’s Second Symphony in May 1804, which had been published at the end of the previous year. Although many of Beethoven’s works had been greeted with similar descriptions of how extraordinary they were – perhaps most notably the violin sonatas – compared to Beethoven’s first contribution in this genre the Second Symphony is definitely a step up in terms of scope, duration, and difficulty.
Chamber music arrangements of symphonies were very common in the late 18th and early 19th century, and it is probably true that a large proportion of the people who were familiar with the symphonic repertoire at the time were so because of them. The Second Symphony is the only one for which Beethoven himself produced an arrangement, although there is evidence that his student Ferdinand Ries did the bulk of the work, with Beethoven adding the finishing touches.
Of the three piano trios published under op. 1, the second announces its pretentions to the symphonic genre earlier than its siblings and has several common points with the Second Symphony that was written ten years later.
The Allegretto in E-flat, Hess 48, probably was one of the first works for piano trio that Beethoven wrote, dating back to the early 1790s. Its form is a short, but humorous conversation between three different instruments.