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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Op. 22, 26 & 27 No 1, Op. 28, 54 & 90 / Mari Kodama

Mari Kodama
Release Date: 11/13/2012 
Label:  Pentatone   Catalog #: 5186390   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Multi 
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SuperAudio CD:  $29.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas: No. 11 in B?; No. 12 in A?; No. 13 in E?; No. 22 in F; No. 27 in e; No. 15 in D Mari Kodama (pn) PENTATONE 5186390 (2 SACDs: 108:28)

I specifically asked to review this release after receiving Mari Kodama’s previous album of Beethoven’s last three sonatas and giving it a warm welcome in 36:2. Prior to that, I’d not heard any of her earlier Beethoven releases but was sufficiently impressed by the last one to want to hear more of it. I freely acknowledge that not all my colleagues who Read more have reviewed one or another entry in Kodama’s survey of the sonatas have been equally enthusiastic, but how dull would Fanfare be if we all agreed?

Save for two sonatas, Nos. 28 and 29, the “Hammerklavier,” Kodama’s Beethoven sonata cycle is complete, and according to PentaTone’s official website, those two sonatas are scheduled for release in August, whereupon I’m sure the company will endear itself to everyone who has collected the individual discs by reissuing them in a boxed set. Here on two SACDs we have six sonatas in seemingly no particular order, either numerically or chronologically.

In general, I continue to like Kodama’s way with these works, but as suggested in my previous review, the pianist is not necessarily in touch with every sonata or every movement thereof equally. Who is? Technical mastery is never in question, but Kodama tends to be more responsive to the long line and the lyrical impulses in the music than she is to the high drama or moments of capricious quirkiness. Where, for example, Beethoven gives Kodama a menuetto instead of a scherzo and an easygoing rondo to play, as in the third and fourth movements of the B?-Major Sonata, the pianist performs with limpid touch, fluent phrasing, and singing tone. But in a movement like the scherzo from the A?-Major Sonata, I think she’s a bit too straight-laced, missing some of the humor of the off-beat accents.

On the other hand, Kodama hits the nail on the head in the all-but-name scherzo from the E?-Major Sonata (the Allegro molto e vivace ), bringing out its seriocomic character of an ill wind blowing through the halls of a haunted house. And Kodama delivers all of the sonatas’ slow movements with graceful and eloquent expression.

Will Mari Kodama’s Beethoven cycle go down in history as one of the all-time greats? My guess would be probably not. But from what I’ve heard of it so far, I’d judge it to be very, very good, and I can’t imagine anyone who invests in these gorgeously recorded PentaTone SACDs being disappointed. Before snapping up this latest two-disc release, however, I’d counsel patience, for sooner or later, the complete cycle is bound to be made available as a boxed set. But whether you choose to buy now or later, Kodama’s Beethoven, with the minor reservations mentioned, is recommended.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Piano no 27 in E minor, Op. 90 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1814; Vienna, Austria 
Sonata for Piano no 22 in F major, Op. 54 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804; Vienna, Austria 
Sonata for Piano no 15 in D major, Op. 28 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801; Vienna, Austria 
Sonata for Piano no 13 in E flat major, Op. 27 no 1 "Quasi una fantasia" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria 
Sonata for Piano no 12 in A flat major, Op. 26 "Funeral March" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria 
Sonata for Piano no 11 in B flat major, Op. 22 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Brilliant April 14, 2013 By Richard H. (Glendale, AZ) See All My Reviews "I am collecting all this entire cycle by Kodama whom I believe is one of the greatest exponents of Beethoven. She is very expressive at the right moments and to the point at others. Her technical expertise is without question. I have several recording of the sonatas and Kodama tops all of them, including Horowitz and Gilels. I am waiting anxiously for the final release of this cycle." Report Abuse
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