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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Op. 14, 49, 78 & 79 / Mari Kodama

Beethoven / Kodama
Release Date: 08/31/2010 
Label:  Pentatone   Catalog #: 5186304  
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas: No. 9 in E; No. 10 in G; No. 19 in g; No. 20 in G; No. 24 in F?; No. 25 in G Mari Kodama (pn) PENTATONE PTC 5186 304 (SACD: 67:44, & bonus DVD)


Mari Kodama, born in Osaka, studied at the Paris Conservatory with Germaine Mounier and subsequently with Tatiana Nikolaeva and Alfred Brendel. She has performed the complete Beethoven sonatas in Los Angeles and has also appeared in recital and with orchestras in major cities Read more in Europe and Japan. This disc, the first in Kodama’s planned Beethoven cycle, begins with the composer’s so-called “easy” sonatas. In the words of the booklet’s annotator, Franz Steiger, they represent “lyrical islands,” being less fervent or affirmative than many of his other works in this genre. The two-movement sonatas Nos. 19 and 20 served an educational purpose, and every budding young pianist has studied them. I remember the wonderful moment when my teacher “graduated” me from these to the bigger No. 25, with its brusque humor and brisk tempos—and then, a bit later, to the wonderful No. 24, which is full of technical and musical problems.


Although I am pleased that Kodama’s presentation of the 32 sonatas will not be strictly chronological, it is regrettable that she decided to group these particular six sonatas together on one disc. The ideal solution would have been to place them strategically among the larger and greater works, to provide added contrast and variety for the listener. As it is, it is rather like trying to enjoy a whole meal of bon-bons. Of course, sonatas with the same opus number rightly belong together: Nos. 9 and 10 form op. 14 and Nos. 19 and 20 form op. 49. But neither opus benefits from being played next to the other. Some pianists arrange the sonatas not according to chronology but according to their related keys. But that is not the case here; four of the six sonatas are in G Major/G Minor, which only reinforces the disc’s sense of musical sameness.


Given these caveats, I am pleased to say that Kodama displays a highly refined tonal palette and is able to make subtle distinctions of touch in an unselfconscious manner. She projects the often innocent quality of the music in a way that is fully engaging and convincing. She shapes phrases naturally, her dynamics are judged precisely and sensitively, and there is vitality where called for, as in the first movement of No. 25 and the last movements of Nos. 9 and 24. Her tempos seem exactly right, except for the first movement of No. 24, which is surely played too deliberately, more moderato than allegro. The recorded sound, in multichannel, is clear and detailed, capturing the sound that one might hear in the fifth row of a small but acoustically perfect hall. In short, every aspect of this disc is pleasing, and all that we lack is the opportunity of hearing Kodama in one of the indisputably great sonatas of Beethoven’s maturity, such as the “Waldstein,” the “Appassionata,” “Les Adieux,” or one of the last five sonatas. I look forward to that opportunity. Unfortunately, the accompanying bonus DVD, apparently capturing a portion of the recording session, does not function on my equipment.


FANFARE: Charles Timbrell
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Piano no 9 in E major, Op. 14 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1798; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Sonata for Piano no 10 in G major, Op. 14 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1799; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Sonata for Piano no 19 in G minor, Op. 49 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Sonata for Piano no 20 in G major, Op. 49 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Sonata for Piano no 24 in F sharp major, Op. 78 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
6.
Sonata for Piano no 25 in G major, Op. 79 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 

Sound Samples

Piano Sonata No. 25 in G major, Op. 79: I. Presto alla tedesca
Piano Sonata No. 25 in G major, Op. 79: II. Andante
Piano Sonata No. 25 in G major, Op. 79: III. Vivace
Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp major, Op. 78: I. Adagio cantabile - Allegro ma non troppo
Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp major, Op. 78: II. Allegro vivace
Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, Op. 14, No. 1: I. Allegro
Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, Op. 14, No. 1: II. Allegretto
Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, Op. 14, No. 1: III. Rondo: Allegro comodo
Piano Sonata No. 10 in G major, Op. 14, No. 2: I. Allegro
Piano Sonata No. 10 in G major, Op. 14, No. 2: II. Andante
Piano Sonata No. 10 in G major, Op. 14, No. 2: III. Scherzo: Allegro assai
Piano Sonata No. 19 in G minor, Op. 49, No. 1: I. Andante
Piano Sonata No. 19 in G minor, Op. 49, No. 1: II. Rondo: Allegro
Piano Sonata No. 20 in G major, Op. 49, No. 2: I. Allegro ma non troppo
Piano Sonata No. 20 in G major, Op. 49, No. 2: II. Tempo di menuetto

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Excellent August 20, 2012 By Richard H. (Glendale, AZ) See All My Reviews "The Beethoven sonatas are very unforgiving works. You either do a great job or you do a crappy job. Mari Kodama is an excellent pianist and has that ability to capture the essence of Beethoven's light passages as well as his driving passion. I am collecting the entire Beethoven series by Kodama and cannot find any fault with the performances so far." Report Abuse
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