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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas / Goldsmith


Release Date: 01/16/2007 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 93092   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Harris Goldsmith
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 46 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Permit me to preface my review of Harris Goldsmith the pianist with a few comments about Harris Goldsmith the critic. To my way of thinking, the vividness, specificity, and accuracy of his observations represented a quantum leap in critical standards among English-language reviewers, especially on the topic of pianists, the piano, and its repertoire. I grew up reading Goldsmith's regular contributions to High Fidelity magazine back in the 1960s and 1970s, and his writings not only influenced my listening habits but also inspired me to try my hand at reviewing. Yet Goldsmith was first and foremost a pianist, and he remains a highly sought-after coach for soloists and chamber musicians. Reissued for the first time on CD, his solo Beethoven Read more recordings from the late-'70s and early-'80s reveal that he could put his money where his mouth was, and then some.

His gaunt, precipitous sweep through the Waldstein's first movement stands up to equally galvanizing readings by Solomon and Bruce Hungerford, without missing the smallest detail. Unlike many so-called Beethoven specialists, Goldsmith observes the Adagio molto's eighth-note rests to the letter, and he takes the Rondo's controversial long pedal markings on faith. The coda goes like the wind, but never spins out of control--and what effortless, ethereal glissando octaves!

Among Goldsmith's fresh insights vis-à-vis the A-flat Op. 110 sonata are unusually clear left-hand passagework in the first movement, a brisker, more vehement Allegro Molto than usual, plus carefully considered tempo relationships that generate uncommon continuity and cumulative impact in the final movement's alternating arioso and fugue sections. The Tempest sonata also shines by virtue of Goldsmith's astutely varied articulation, although we might wish for harder-hitting accents and beefier fortes in the outer movements.

Happily, Goldsmith's verbal perceptions concerning the Op. 126 Bagatelles' high quirk quotient and unpredictable mood swings easily transfer to his fingers. Sonically speaking, the 1981 Tempest, Op. 126, and short pieces fare best. But the Waldstein and Op. 110 (recorded in 1977 and 1978) suffer from a boxy acoustic and a less-than-ideal instrument that resembles those "piano-shaped objects" that occupy most conservatory practice studios. Furthermore, the live 1970 Op. 10 No. 1 (recorded on Beethoven's 200th birthday) that opens Disc 1 stems from a poorly preserved, wobbly archival tape. Yes, it's an exciting, impassioned performance, but the producer ought to have provided a caveat on the back cover.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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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:  Harris Goldsmith (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795-1797; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/16/1970 
Venue:  Live  New York City, New York, USA 
Length: 17 Minutes 33 Secs. 
2.
Sonata for Piano no 21 in C major, Op. 53 "Waldstein" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Harris Goldsmith (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803-1804; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Vanguard Studios, New York City, NY 
Length: 22 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Notes: Vanguard Studios, New York City, NY (03/02/1977 - 06/09/1978) 
3.
Sonata for Piano no 31 in A flat major, Op. 110 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Harris Goldsmith (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1821-1822; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Vanguard Studios, New York City, NY 
Length: 17 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Notes: Vanguard Studios, New York City, NY (03/02/1977 - 06/09/1978) 
4.
Sonata for Piano no 17 in D minor, Op. 31 no 2 "Tempest" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Harris Goldsmith (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC 
Length: 22 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC (10/28/1981 - 10/29/1981) 
5.
Bagatelles (6) for Piano, Op. 126 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Harris Goldsmith (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1824; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC 
Length: 18 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Notes: American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC (10/28/1981 - 10/29/1981) 
6.
Bagatelle for Piano in A minor, WoO 59 "Für Elise" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Harris Goldsmith (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC 
Length: 2 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Notes: American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC (11/28/1981 - 11/29/1981) 
7.
Bagatelle for Piano in B flat major, WoO 60 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Harris Goldsmith (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1818; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC 
Length: 1 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Notes: American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC (10/28/1981 - 10/29/1981) 
8.
Allegretto for Piano in B minor, WoO 61 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Harris Goldsmith (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1821; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC 
Length: 2 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Notes: American Academy of Arts and Letters,NYC (10/28/1981 - 10/29/1981) 

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