Notes and Editorial Reviews
Piano Sonatas: No. 1 in f; No. 2 in A; No. 3 in D; No. 26 in E?,
No. 27 in e; No. 29 in B?,
No. 30 in E; No. 31 in A?; No. 32 in c
François-Frédéric Guy (pn)
ZIG ZAG 318 (3 CDs: 209:40)
This release completes François-Frédéric Guy’s Beethoven cycle. Volumes 1 and 2 were reviewed in
35:5 and 36:2, respectively; and in those reviews, I had nothing but the highest praise for this outstanding French pianist.
Guy’s survey of the sonatas has proceeded, more or less, in number order sequence, but it began in Volume 1 with the Sonata No. 4, leaving Guy to backtrack to the first three sonatas in this final volume. Thus, what we get here is both the beginning and the end.
I can pay no higher compliment to Guy’s “Hammerklavier” than to say that it’s a magisterial and ennobling performance that closely resembles Sviatoslav Richter’s 1975 live account from Prague, long available on a Praga CD (254022). Look at the timings:
It’s only Guy’s somewhat more expansive reading of the last movement that adds just over a minute to his performance over Richter’s. But interpretively, Guy’s approach is similar in its nobility of vision and authority of technical command. This “Hammerklavier” stands as one of the modern-era greats.
Guy’s grasp of the final three sonatas is equally probing, penetrating, and profound. His last movement of the E-Major Sonata (No. 30)—possibly my favorite movement in all of Beethoven’s piano sonatas—is simply transporting. The tone he draws from his piano in the tolling bells variation towards the end seems to free itself from the keyboard and vibrate in some ethereal sphere.
I can now say, without reservation, that François-Frédéric Guy’s Beethoven cycle is among the very best, if not
best, of the more recent modern-instrument versions available—either complete or still in progress—and those would include Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Louis Lortie, Garrick Ohlsson, and Angela Hewitt. This is a strong “buy” recommendation.
FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
Works on This Recording
Be the first to review this title