Notes and Editorial Reviews
Piano Sonatas: Nos. 7 in D; No. 9 in e; No 14 in c?,
; No. 23 in f,
Igor Kamenz (pn)
OEHMS 587 (73:35)
In addition to having a career that has embraced conducting, it is clear from this release (my first exposure to him) that Igor Kamenz is a formidable pianist: technically secure, musically thoughtful, and a strongly committed artist. Nothing of the playing in this release could ever
be called bland. Yet despite its more than merely passing virtues, it is not a complete success. One major asset is its sound. Despite the sonic achievments in this hi-tech age, piano recordings have not always fared well. The Oppitz accounts of Nos. 7, 9, and 23, for example, which he recorded fairly recently for Hänssler, have a distant, comparatively opaque blurriness compared to the close, sharply focused impact of the piano in this release. The prize here is the “Appassionata,” each of its movements judiciously paced, the outer ones broad but never stagnant. In the case of the opening movement this allows for refreshing clarity, especially in its explosive chordal eruptions. In the case of the finale, it permits considerable acceleration in its
coda that is still sufficiently slow to enable execution without blurring its fastest passages.
The earlier sonatas are less successful. To be sure, they have some fine moments. Particularly impressive is Kamenz’s highlighting of Beethoven’s over-the-bar-line phrasing in the finale of No. 7 and the humor in the movement’s difficulty in getting started. But the exceptional breadth of the pianist in the
Largo e mesto
of that work will strike many as stretching things much too far. Here it is a full minute slower than Schnabel’s unusually broad account and two minutes slower than Oppitz’s. Indeed, with Kamenz, the movement stagnates. And many collectors may well dislike his ignoring in these earlier scores of all exposition repeats, omissions, to be sure, that may well have been made to permit accommodation of all four sonatas on one disc. Finally, it should be noted that portions of these earlier works are played with a rhythmic freedom that some may find excessive. Granted Kamenz’s rubato is usually well integrated, but there are occasions where it does seem to threaten continuity. Nonetheless, this release has much to offer, in both its sonic and musical worth.
FANFARE: Mortimer H. Frank
Works on This Recording
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