Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Piano Sonatas: No. 1; No. 2; No. 3
Mari Kodama (pn)
PENTATONE 5186067 (Hybrid multichannel SACD 67:22)
The beauty of this piano-playing sneaks up on you. Kodama delivers the opening of the very first of Beethoven’s sonatas with a sense of repose that is surprising. This
homage to Haydn is traditionally taken with brisk energy. This is still an Allegro in Kodama’s vision, but there is also a calmness that seems odd, even unidiomatic. But how to judge such stylistic issues? She is well within the technical parameters of the score, and there is nothing flashy or self-indulgent about her choices. As the playing proceeds, a solid logic coheres, as it becomes clear that Kodama has thoughtfully constructed a large conception of the music. One telling example of her over-arching view is the consistency of her sforzandos; they never come crashing down, as one is used to hearing in Beethoven, but rather land with all the notes evenly revealed and intact, still loud and even biting, but not clangy. There are some minor technical quibbles to be made; some of her ornamentation is slightly labored, which is a bit surprising given the overall elegance of her playing.
In an earlier review of Kodama’s Beethoven, I was probably too trapped by my formative view of the music, as delivered by the giants, including Schnabel, Arrau, Richter, Kempff, et al., to fully consider her less traditionally emphatic approach. Certainly, her playing has been well received by my
colleagues, including Michael Fine, Paul Ingram, and to a lesser degree, Colin Anderson and Peter Rabinowitz. The very idea that someone can still play this music and introduce a new perspective is remarkable enough.
FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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