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All Music Guide
Beethoven Sonatas Vol.3
By James Mannheim

Turkish pianist Idil Biret's series of Beethoven sonatas is emerging as a major statement in the field, entirely different in emphasis from that of Andras Schiff and the other cycles that have appeared in recent years. She favors slow tempos and a light touch, which brings out small details, all subsumed within a convincing and well thought-out overall architecture. This disc, the third in the series, offers one of the big three among Beethoven's sonatas in terms of general popularity: the Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53, "Waldstein." Either of the outer movements of this work makes a good place to start sampling the disc, or the series as a whole. In the finale, the sweeping ascending figure that accompanies and amplifies the return of the main theme is clearly revealed, unlike in so many other readings, to be two separate one-octave scales. This is not the most thrilling "Waldstein" on the market, but it may clarify more of the notes than any other. The opening of the Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10/3, likewise sacrifices Presto speed for accuracy in rendering a lively, dialogue-like texture, also on display in the little Piano Sonata No. 25 in G major, Op. 79. At the other tempo extreme, the slow movement of Op. 10/3 is not treated as a sort of proto-appearance of mature Beethovenian despair but as a calm, smoothly lyrical song. Throughout, Biret's interpretations are built from the ground up and will keep you listening repeatedly. This release is highly recommended and whets the appetite for the later sonatas and their unique fusions of structural complexity and virtuosity.

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