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Beethoven: The Piano Sonatas Vol 2 / András Schiff


Release Date: 03/28/2006 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 000592202   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  András Schiff
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 17 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Nominated for the 2007 Grammy Award for "Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (without Orchestra)."

2960340.az_BEETHOVEN_Piano_Sonatas

BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas, Vol. 2: No. 5 in c; No. 6 in F; No. 7 in D; No. 8 in c, “Pathétique” András Schiff (pn) ECM 1942 (66:51) Live: Zürich 11/28/2004


Volume 1 of András Schiff’s new traversal of the Beethoven sonatas was received lukewarmly by me in 29:3. A bit more positive, but still with some judicious hedging, was a second opinion by Charles Timbrell in 29:4. Volume 2 has not yet been released as of this writing . It is scheduled to hit the retailers on March 28, 2006; but it in fact came to me in pre-production format with a press release and several pages of notes that appear to be the contents of what will be the enclosed booklet.


In my previous review, I suggested a wait and see approach, and with good reason; for I know Schiff’s work, and I had absolute confidence that in subsequent installments he would hit his stride. He has not disappointed me. In Volume 2, containing what many consider to be Beethoven’s first truly great essays in the form—the three sonatas of op. 10 (Nos. 5, 6, and 7)—Schiff delivers in spades, turning in one of the most exhilarating performances of the F-Major Sonata I’ve ever heard. Other pianists latch on to the kinky aspects of the music, bringing out its quirky humor. But Schiff hears something else, and it’s not all that humorous. Listen, for example, beginning at 6:37 in the first movement; there’s a premonition of something malevolent, and it sends a chill up the spine. The ghostly apparitions reappear in the “pale Allegretto,” which Schiff describes as a “dark valley,” but are they playful poltergeists or evil Erlkönigen bent on doing harm? Is Beethoven just joking or is he deadly serious? That ambiguity between conflicting emotional states will become one of Beethoven’s lifelong trademarks; it may even be the single most important contributing factor to the uniqueness of his music. And it is the communicative power of that emotional ambiguity that Schiff realizes so well in these readings.


In movement after movement, Schiff demonstrates the most probing musical intellect, bringing to the fore meanings that lurk in the shadows. After an emotionally intense Largo e mesto in the D-Major Sonata, listen once again in the concluding Rondo to those phantom winged things that flit about in malicious paroxysms of glee. I’ve never heard them flit quite as gleefully as they do in Schiff’s hands.


I was expecting to say that no pianist could possibly find anything new to say in Beethoven’s “Pathétique” Sonata, a work that has been played (and sometimes flayed) to death. But Schiff does manage a thing or two, mostly in his very smart address of rhythmic work in the left hand.


If Schiff and ECM continue on this path to the end—and I have no reason to believe they won’t, this will be one of the great Beethoven sonata sets.


FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Piano no 5 in C minor, Op. 10 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  András Schiff (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795-1797; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/28/2004 
Venue:  Live  Tonhalle, Zürich, Switzerland 
Length: 18 Minutes 0 Secs. 
2.
Sonata for Piano no 6 in F major, Op. 10 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  András Schiff (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796-1797; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/28/2004 
Venue:  Live  Tonhalle, Zürich, Switzerland 
Length: 16 Minutes 51 Secs. 
3.
Sonata for Piano no 7 in D major, Op. 10 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  András Schiff (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/28/2004 
Venue:  Live  Tonhalle, Zürich, Switzerland 
Length: 21 Minutes 47 Secs. 
4.
Sonata for Piano no 8 in C minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  András Schiff (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/28/2004 
Venue:  Live  Tonhalle, Zürich, Switzerland 
Length: 19 Minutes 55 Secs. 

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