Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Vol.1
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
One of the most exciting pianists of the younger generation, American Jonathan Biss is widely regarded for his artistry, musical intelligence and deeply felt interpretations, winning international recognition for his orchestral, recital and chamber music performances and for his award-winning recordings. He performs a diverse repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven, through the Romantics to Janácek and Schoenberg as well as works by contemporary composers. This marks the debut release in Biss complete cycle of Beethoven s piano sonatas for Onyx. The first volume features three works from Beethoven s early period and one from the middle the famous Les Adieux, Op.81a in E-flat major. This fascinating program illustrates how Beethoven s sonatas developed from the early, virtuosic works of the 1790s to the assured compositions of his middle period.
A young virtuoso and poetic pianist of the first order... --Chicago Sun Times
Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I mention this because Biss carries the weight of tradition more than the usual Curtis Institute graduate with great skill and teaching. When I've heard him live, it was uncannily like the spirit of Fleisher or Serkin, with the same respect and sobriety toward the great Austro-German composers but more than that, the feeling that Biss loved and felt the music the way his predecessors did. So, has all of that translated into Beethoven playing of remarkable accomplishment?
The answer doesn't come easily, for me, at least. I was very enthusiastic about Biss's early EMI recordings, where his style in Beethoven, Schubert, and Schumann was delightful - natural, knowing, always involved. That impression isn't erased here, but I'm not sure that it's been deepened, either. The two earliest sonatas, Op. 10 no. 1 and Op. 22 are done with poise and careful balance, but I could get the same from Richard Goode, a model of correctness whose playing doesn't soar or venture into personal territory. The recorded sound is very good and (as with Serkin) quite close up, which reveals every detail of Biss's touch. On that score, there is nothing to fault. If only the interpretations could stick their necks out a bit. We already have Paul Lewis to show the middle way.
It's unfair for me to ask Biss to have a musical personality that isn't his own. Moving on to the Funeral March Sonata Op. 26, Biss's playing is remarkably even and tasteful; he's living up to his pedigree, no doubt. But the funeral march itself seems tame, even though it is marked "maestoso," majestic. In his earlier recording of the "Pathetique" Sonata, Biss found more depth and sorrow; no one is being buried here except perhaps a pet goldfish or canary. The last sonata on the program, "Les Adieux" Op. 81a, is a quiet, poignant masterpiece from the middle period, where masterpieces abound. Biss begins a bit blandly, but he rises to the energetic sections with convincing force, especially in the finale - it's the best thing on the program. Yet my impression remained of gilt-edged playing that doesn't exhibit enough personality or reach for much depth.
In the end, my personal taste takes secondary place. As with other pianists whose Beethoven mostly doesn't excite me (Goode, Perahia, Solomon, Kempff, Brendel), there are countless admirers and die-hard fans. Such clean, clear, intelligent, and musical playing deserves to be admired. Beethoven on disc is rich enough that I still have Serkin, Richter, Schnabel, Ginzburg, Gould, and Pletnev to inspire me. Bring on the originals.