Daniel Barenboim – Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle (3)

Piano Sonata in C minor, Op.13 (Pathétique)
Piano Sonata in A flat, Op.26
Piano Sonata in G, Op.79
Piano Sonata in A, Op.101

Daniel Barenboim (piano)

Reviewed by: Robert Matthew-Walker

Reviewed: 4 February, 2008
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Royal Festival Hall

Daniel Barenboim. ©Monika Rittershaus/EMI ClassicsThis, the third recital of eight in which Daniel Barenboim is traversing Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas, proved to be a memorable occasion indeed. Barenboim had not been well, but no such indisposition marred his artistry, either technically or interpretatively.

The ‘Pathétique’ Sonata was magisterially played. In the first movement (the exposition repeat going back to the start of the Allegro and not, as recent scholarship convincingly argues, from the opening Grave) many aspects were superbly judged – all within the most judicious tempos and structural command. The intensely melodic second movement was nobly projected, and the finale was almost Mozartean in its delightful turns of phrase.

Barenboim was on top form, one’s appreciation being reinforced by his command of the keyboard, the more so when one considers the vast amount of conducting he also undertakes. The A flat Sonata was almost equally convincing a reading, but one might have wished for just a little more legato in the opening Theme – this theme being one of Beethoven’s most felicitous inspirations, giving rise to a set of fluent Variations of equal melodic distinction. One also wished for – perhaps – a fractionally slower tempo and a greater beauty of tone from the Steinway, but these are very minor matters. The two middle movements were quite magnificently shaped.

The sunny G major Sonata received quite the most delightful reading, one of the deepest insight in which Barenboim revealed much of the composer’s subtleties without marring the overall shape and character of the work. Finally, Opus 101, was superbly done – the work above all in Beethoven’s output in which he looks forward – to Mendelssohn and Schumann – and looks back – to Bach in the concluding Fugue – while, at all times, remaining Beethoven, the greatest composer of piano music.

Throughout this recital, Barenboim demonstrated his profound mastery of this music.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content