Notes and Editorial Reviews
You know the story: great CD on an obscure label in print for 12 seconds that subsequently languishes in catalog limbo until rescued by Piano Classics. Well, maybe you don’t know that story, but you ought to know this gripping Beethoven release. Those who remember Brilliant Classics’ complete Beethoven edition and Georg Friedrich Schenck’s fervent performances of some of the short pieces (including the best modern-era recording I know of the Op. 77 Fantasy) surely will want to hear this pianist’s headlong and energetic yet thoughtfully shaped Op. 2 No. 3 and “Hammerklavier” interpretations.
While both sonatas’ outer movements initially seem overtly fast, Schenck’s deft textural interplay, supple fingerwork, and fiercely
drawn accents allow a genuine singing impulse and sense of breathing room to emerge at all times. This also applies to the steady yet flexibly phrased slow movements. Similar care and consideration characterizes the shorter works.
Think of the B minor Allegretto’s gorgeously muted and sustained quality, or the pianist’s spot-on timing and wide dynamic contrasts that bring the less than one-minute-long WoO 60 to life (it sounds like a runaway sketch from a late Schubert sonata). And what simplicity and lilt Schenck brings to the lightweight yet lovely Ecossaisen. For those who care about such things, in the ascending sequence of broken fifths and sixths just prior to the “Hammerklavier” sonata’s first-movement recapitulation Schenck plays the bass notes as A-sharp (as do Schnabel, Arrau, and Richter) rather than the A-natural that Kempff and Brendel favor. In short, Schenck’s Beethoven fuses cultivation, daring, and conviction in a manner that compels you to take notice. Any plans to reissue his long-out-of-print complete Beethoven sonata cycle from the late 1980s?
-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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