Notes and Editorial Reviews
Piano Sonatas: Nos. 30–32
Michael Korstick (pn)
OEHMS 664 (SACD: 67:47)
33:5, I found Volume 7 of Michael Korstick’s ongoing Beethoven cycle a nonstarter, but a little over a year later, in 34: 6, I was so dazzled by the pianist’s Liszt recital on CPO that I gave it an urgent recommendation. So, at least no one will accuse me of closing my mind to an artist who has once disappointed me. The path to rehabilitation is open for at least three
Designated Volume 11 in Korstick’s Beethoven sonata survey, this is the final installment in what has been a sea voyage marked by both swells and doldrums. Here, finally, Korstick reaches the end of the journey with the last three sonatas, and it’s a homecoming to be savored. Whatever I found wanting in the earlier volume is here compensated with some of the most sensitive and communicative playing I’ve heard in these works.
movement of the E-Major Sonata (No. 30), by which I judge all contenders, is delivered with a rarified concentration, a purity of soul, and a radiance of tone that held me spellbound in a state of spiritual rapture. These are Beethoven’s final essays in a form he has taken to the summit, from where he gazes down upon his self-transformed and refashioned landscape. It’s obvious that they speak to Korstick in a very deep and personal way. He plays them as if he too envisions a reimagined world from on high.
The clarity of Korstick’s voicing in the Ab-Major Sonata’s last movement fugal sections is revelatory, and the disciplined velocity of his fingerwork in the C-Minor Sonata’s first movement Allegro is breathtaking. With technique to burn, Korstick stirs up a storm of passions that range from blistering rage to urgent entreaty.
Korstick’s playing has rendered me speechless. I don’t know what else to say about these magnificent performances and phenomenal recording, other than to exhort you to acquire it without delay.
FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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