Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt has specialized in Baroque and Classical music, and her Beethoven is about as delicate as some might expect. But there's a difference between applying delicacy to works that are not conventionally played that way, and applying it to already delicate works. There are two of each here. Hewitt runs counter to type in the early Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 2/2, and Piano Sonata No. 5 in C minor, Op. 10/1. In the Op. 10 work, perhaps a preparatory essay for the tumultuous "Pathétique" sonata that followed in the same key, Hewitt will be underpowered for many. But all is redeemed in the gentler pair, the Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp major, Op. 78, and Piano Sonata No. 31 in A major, Op. 110. Hewitt takes moderate tempi in these, infusing a sense of spontaneity into the brief, tightly constructed Op. 78 and opening up the fugal counterpoint in the Op. 110 finale. Hewitt's Bachian training really applies in this work, whose first movement is also particularly raptly, almost mystically done. It's hard to offer a general judgment on this set, but for those buying online, in pieces, know that the last two selections are must-haves.
Since his victory in the Reine Elisabeth Competition in Belgium in 1992, at the age of 22, Braley has allowed himself plenty of time for reflection, and his career… has been, in his own image, refined and demanding.
Turning 90 in December 2013, Menahem Pressler was the pianist of the legendary Beaux Arts Trio for almost 55 years, and continues to enjoy a blossoming career as soloist and recitalist, while remaining as committed to teaching as ever. For the greater part of his life, Pressler has lived with the two great sonatas recorded here, and has recounted how he studied Beethoven’s Sonata in A flat major, Op.110 as a young man after having fled Nazi Germany for Israel in 1939: ‘I didn't really understand many of the things that I understand now. I only understood the enormous emotional… tearing, tearing on my insides…’
Madame Youra Guller is one of the race of interpretative artists made for this type of work. She became known, between the two wars, as one of the great contemporary pianists. But she has never consented to become one of the celebrated idols woh travel continually around the world playing the same programme to the public. As a meticulous, modest, refined and almosts mystical pianist, each of her appearances on the concert platform has impressed her audience by the intensity of her performance and the nobility of her style. It is fitting that this record bears withness to such an artist in the recording of these two sonatas, in which she conveys all the solemn, profound, magical beauty in a personal rendering which has the mark of authenticity, as much in its conception as in its supreme execution. [[i]excerpt from notes by Henri Sauguet]
Recordings of Beethoven's Triple Concerto, Op. 56, by a piano trio rather than by a group of virtuosi (a configuration that almost always misunderstands the work) are not abundant. Still rarer are those like the present release by the Storioni Trio, a Dutch group that takes its name from the maker of the 1790s instrument played by the violinist (and strung, like the viola, with gut strings). Pianist Bart van de Roer plays an 1815 Lagasse fortepiano. This recording is part of a series devoted to Beethoven's piano trios, but the Triple Concerto actually is more comfortable in those surroundings than when forced to keep company with the likes of the Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61.