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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas 8, 19, 29 / François-Frédéric Guy

Release Date: 10/31/2006 
Label:  Naive   Catalog #: 5023   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  François-Frédéric Guy
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas: No. 8 in c, “Pathétique”; No. 19 in g; No. 29 in B?, “Hammerklavier” François-Frédéric Guy (pn) NAÏVE 5023 (73:00)

Guy, born in 1969, is a highly gifted French pianist who revels in the most challenging repertoire. Reviewers have heaped praise on his recordings of Beethoven, Brahms (including a live account of the Concerto in B? Read more with the London Philharmonic), the Liszt Sonata, and Prokofiev’s Sonatas Nos. 6 and 8. He also seems to play more chamber music and contemporary works (Stockhausen, Nono, Dufourt, and others) than many pianists of his generation.

The mighty “Hammerklavier” has been central to his repertoire for many years (his impressive earlier recording of it, on Harmonia Mundi, is already 10 years old) and he has performed it dozens of times in public. In the stormy first movement, he sails through the difficulties at a fast clip and is able to shape the expressive moments beautifully without much tempo adjustment, except when Beethoven specifies it. His sound is big and warm, never becoming clangorous, even in the loudest moments. It is compelling playing indeed, beautifully conceived and paced. The same applies to the great slow movement, where the balance of chords, the lyric projection, and pregnant rests almost take one’s breath away. And he captures the craggy drama of the final fugue to perfection, never sounding—unlike so many pianists—rushed, awkward, or tense. This version ranks with the best I know, including those by Wilhelm Backhaus, Claude Frank, and Eric Heidsieck, and at least one of Daniel Barenboim’s.

The tiny Sonata No. 19 is a perfect foil, with a lovely opening slow movement that displays his gift to play simply, followed by a most witty rondo. The “Pathétique” begins dramatically, with the introduction thoughtful and somewhat tentative and with some slight elongations of beats that I find refreshing. The slow movement is expansive yet always flowing, a very beautiful conception; and the finale is perfectly paced, with fine variety of touch and excellent balances. All in all, some of the finest Beethoven-playing that I’ve heard recently. Highly recommended.

FANFARE: Charles Timbrell
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Piano no 8 in C minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  François-Frédéric Guy (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
Sonata for Piano no 29 in B flat major, Op. 106 "Hammerklavier" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  François-Frédéric Guy (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1817-1818; Vienna, Austria 
Sonata for Piano no 19 in G minor, Op. 49 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  François-Frédéric Guy (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797; Vienna, Austria 

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