Notes and Editorial Reviews
Piano Sonatas: No. 15,
Sonata in B?,
Andreas Haefliger (pn)
AVIE 2148 (2 CDs: 90:39)
Andreas Haefliger, whose previous recordings include works by Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Bartók, and Thomas Adès, here provides some of the most satisfying
Beethoven-playing that I have heard in quite a while. In these two sonatas, he holds his own with the outstanding versions by Richard Goode, Stephen Kovacevich, and Paul Lewis, among others. He plays with intelligence and imagination, real musical conviction without exaggeration, and a commanding technique that never calls attention to itself. The wonderfully calm mood of the opening of the “Pastorale” is captured perfectly, with a singer’s care for melodic shape and a conductor’s attention to balances and a flowing delivery. The drama of the development section is strong but relative—it is not, after all, the “Appassionata”—and the final fade-out is magical. The pizzicatos in the second movement are perfectly matched and are just strong enough, and the earthy humor of the trio section is infectious. The finale is full of easy merry-making, which, together with hints of bird songs and a storm, justifies the nickname “Pastorale” (supplied by Beethoven’s publisher). And the ending, for once, does not sound like an add-on. I know that this will be my preferred account of op. 28 for some time.
Similar strengths characterize his “Appassionata.” He holds the vast first movement together exceptionally well, with a grand view of the architecture. It is dramatic, forward moving, and cumulative, full of detail but never fussy. His tempos for the second and third movements are also perfectly judged, the former always flowing, the latter reigned in and honoring Beethoven’s
Allegro, ma non troppo
marking until the coda.
The catalog is overflowing with recordings of Schubert’s great Sonata in B?. Some of the exceptional ones are by Artur Schnabel, Mitsuko Uchida, Anthony Gladstone, and Stephen Hough. Although Haefliger’s account is accomplished in many ways, I was disappointed by the bland way in which he makes Schubert speak throughout much of the first movement. Much better is his interpretation of the slow movement, which is beautifully voiced and at a more flowing tempo than usual. The Scherzo has the requisite shimmer, with nicely judged sforzandos in the trio. The finale is alternately playful and dramatic, with a full, orchestral sonority for the fortissimos (broadening the tempo helps to achieve that). All in all, then, it’s a good Schubert recording and a really exceptional Beethoven one.
FANFARE: Charles Timbrell
Works on This Recording
Be the first to review this title