One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider

  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
  • Mozart Flute Quartets
  • Schubert complete piano works
  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
 
Tudor



CD and Blue-ray Audio


CD and Blue-ray Audio


CPE Bach Cantatas
a revelation


Biber: Sacred Choral Works
Don't miss it


Jonathan Dove


Tommie Haglund
Unique and Powerful music


Organ Fireworks


Highly Entertaining


A triumphant performance


Bruckner Symphony 4
One of the finest I have heard


A most joy-inducing recording


A winning partnership


A Lohengrin to treasure.

 

REVIEW
Plain text for smartphones & printers


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano sonatas Volume 5: Sonatas 29-32
Piano Sonata No.29 in B flat major, Op.106 ‘Hammerklavier’ [50:33]
Piano Sonata No.30 in E major, Op.109 [21:59]
Piano Sonata No.31 in A flat major, Op.110 [21:09]
Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111 [29:29]
Daniel Barenboim (piano)
rec. Palais Rasumowsky, Vienna 1983/84
Directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
EUROARTS 2066518 [125:00]

This is the fifth and final volume of Barenboim’s survey of the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven on EuroArts. Here we are offered sonatas 29-32. In April I favourably reviewed volumes 2-4. Volume 1 has, however, eluded me, which is disappointing for a completist.
 
Many, including myself, would consider the sonatas featured here to be the pinnacle of all piano music. Barenboim has the advantage that he has played these works many times, and has recorded two wonderful complete cycles with EMI in the 1960s and Deutsche Grammophon in the 1980s. As I said in my review of the other volumes, Beethoven has played a central role in both his career as a pianist and that of a conductor. Even at this stage in his career, when these performances were filmed, he brings to the works great insights. His grasp of the structure and architecture of this music has been something that has always attracted me to his playing.
 
The ‘Hammerklavier’ is the longest work here; indeed it is the giant amongst the sonatas. Composed 1817-18 and dedicated to his patron the Archduke Rudolf, the sonata reached a peak in terms of size and timescale. Any performance of Op.106 will sort out the men from the boys. Barenboim takes up the challenge admirably with an account that is technically secure and notable for its visceral excitement. The slow movement is eloquent and Barenboim’s traversal of this, the longest movement in the composer’s entire sonata oeuvre, is spellbinding. Aptly, Paul Bekker the German music critic described this movement as  "the apotheosis of pain, of that deep sorrow for which there is no remedy, and which finds expression not in passionate outpourings, but in the immeasurable stillness of utter woe".
 
In the last three piano sonatas, Beethoven explores new territory with works that are intensely personal and more inward-looking that what has gone before. Barenboim is here truly transcendental and he approaches each with great spontaneity. They have a freshness and improvisatory feeling about them and, all the time, he applies his fierce intellect to realise his vision. The highlight is the sublime Arietta of Op.111, which he builds up from the simple opening theme, cumulatively throughout each variation. It’s a fitting conclusion to a great and noble journey.
 
What we see and hear was filmed at the Palais Rasumowsky, Vienna, 1983-84. For anyone wanting a visual survey of the complete Beethoven Piano Sonata cycle these, together with the other volumes, offer compelling results. At the moment, these 5 DVD volumes are available only separately (NTSC), or alternatively packaged as a three disc complete set on Blu-ray (2066424).
 
Barenboim brings freshness and sensitivity. His expressive powers are wondrous.
 
Stephen Greenbank 

Masterwork Index: Sonatas 29-32