Notes and Editorial Reviews
Under Murray Perahia's hands the works on this disc sound familiar yet fresh, not unlike viewing a famous painting after it's been cleaned and restored. The pianist characterizes each of the Op. 26 sonata first-movement variations by means of color and articulation, and unifies them through steady tempo relationships. Unlike artists who self-consciously address the Scherzo's meticulously deployed part writing (i.e. Paul Lewis), Perahia achieves a real Allegro Molto, supported by playful accentuations and buoyant left-hand work. The Funeral March's murky tremolos take on uncommon inner urgency and forward motion, while the Finale's spiraling passagework sparkles with clarity and vivid linear
Musicality and meticulousness similarly fuse in both Op. 14 sonatas, where Perahia's sense of nuance and dramatic build yield new details upon each rehearing. Perahia's bright pace for the G major's central movement arguably overshoots Beethoven's Andante directive, yet more than compensates for his warm tone and lyrical gestures (contrast Stephen Kovacevich's similarly brisk yet relatively abrasive and militant treatment).
The Pastoral is an absolute gem. Each movement stands out for ravishing textural diversity, quietly astute voice leading, and a strong rhythmic center that adds fiber to the music's frequently gentle sentiments. Perahia's attention to detail yields numerous revelations: for example, the Scherzo's prodigious dynamic shadings, the first movement's impeccably balanced inner voices, the Andante's multi-leveled articulation, along with the pianist's impeccable mastery of the Finale's underrated technical challenges. Sony's beautiful engineering further enhances Perahia's consummate artistry. A very special release, not to be missed.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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