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Beethoven Sonatas Vol.6
By James Mannheim

With the sixth volume of her consistently absorbing Beethoven sonata cycle, Turkish pianist Idil Biret delivers one masterpiece and a couple of other strong performances that will be part of the stylistic dialogue for years to come. The best comes last, with Biret's awe-inspiring close reading of the first movement of the Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90, bringing out details that will likely have gone unnoticed even by those who have heard the work many times, and tying them back to the basic thematic material as stated at the beginning. Biret turns this into an essay of such density that the more innocent and Mendelssohnian finale comes as a deeply relieving resolution. The other sonatas are similarly structured; they begin neutrally and are weighted toward the later phases of the opening movement. In the very familiar Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, "Pathétique," Biret goes for broke with a reading that pushes and pulls at the rhythmic flow of the main body of music in the first movement, reestablishing the rhythmic equilibrium only at the end. This makes for a problematic relationship between the Allegro material and the recurring slow introduction, which has a few surprises of its own, but the performance is anything but dull. The early Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat major, Op. 7, Beethoven's first sonata in four movements, also has a distinctive sense of the overall line and Beethoven's expanding vision of it. Biret is neither an exceptionally dramatic Beethoven pianist nor an intellectual like Alfred Brendel; she is too complex for the former and too individualistic for the latter. The performances here truly represent a lifetime of musical thinking, and they're essential for serious Beethovenians.

Next releases January
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