Notes and Editorial Reviews
Steven Osborne's suave and patrician Beethoven playing often recalls the meticulous reserve that Solomon brought to his 1950s recordings of this composer, but with a wider dynamic range and updated textual niceties. The "Moonlight" sonata's famous opening Adagio seems to amble along in a cushy legato haze, yet close listening reveals subtle changes in emphasis and touch. The Allegretto is brisk and insightfully accented, while the Presto Agitato's rotary left-hand patterns are both immaculate and forward moving.
Classical poise and pointed fingerwork characterize the "Pathétique" sonata's outer movements, with just enough bite to the szforzandos. Osborne's tonal beauty and ideal tempos throughout
the little Op. 79 sonata cannot be faulted, but I'd prefer a more bracing, playful, less foursquare approach. The "Waldstein" sonata's Allegro con brio amply demonstrates Osborne's ability to spin gorgeous legato phrases with little aid from the sustain pedal. By contrast, he mostly honors the Rondo's controversial long pedal markings, although the pianist loses concentration when he slightly broadens his basic tempo in lyrical passages. Look elsewhere if you want leonine, impassioned Beethoven infused with nervous energy and volatile drama, but Osborne's musical intelligence and refined virtuosity command respect.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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