Piano Sonata No.12 in A flat, Op.26
Piano Sonata No.9 in E, Op.14/1
Piano Sonata No.10 in G, Op.14/2
Piano Sonata No.15 in D, Op.28 (Pastoral)
Murray Perahia (piano)
Recorded 16-18 June 2008 in Saal 1, Rundfunkzentrum, Berlin
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: November 2008
CD No: SONY CLASSICAL
Duration: 71 minutes
Recorded with wonderful presence and fidelity (both to matters tonal and dynamic), Murray Perahia’s exploration of four of the lesser-played of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas (itself a programming coup) finds the venerable pianist at his very best.
Perahia launches the Theme for the first-movement Variations of the A flat Sonata quite beguilingly and then makes the commentaries that follow both contrasted and inevitable. There follows a nimble and witty scherzo, then the lugubrious tread of the ‘funeral march on the death of a hero’ – Perahia balancing dramatic emotion with long-term objectivity – and then scampers home in the short finale.
The two Opus 14 sonatas tease the listener with their infectious allegros and slower (but never slow) insouciance; Perahia’s elegance, deftness and myriad touch pays handsome dividends in these seemingly-slight but fully-inventive pieces.
Perahia’s trump-card is the ‘Pastoral’ Sonata. His sensitivity for melody, colour and variegation unfolds the lyrical opening movement at a leisurely but never indulgent pace; and then makes a necessary contrast with some effective buoyancy for the march-like Andante before bringing both elfin delicacy and marked declamation to the scherzo. If the finale could be more measured (and less muscular, although this is a not-unwelcome addition to Perahia’s pianistic armoury) – and would have welcomed a repeat of the exposition (a very surprising omission on Perahia’s part) – one is never in doubt that here is a great artist on top form. The scintillation of the coda sets the seal on a notable release.