Beethoven: Piano Sonata in G, Op. 31/1; Piano Sonata in C minor, Op. 111; Bagatelles, Op. 126

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Channel
WORKS: Piano Sonata in G, Op. 31/1; Piano Sonata in C minor, Op. 111; Bagatelles, Op. 126
PERFORMER: Mia Chung (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CCS 7195 DDD
Mia Chung is a thirty-year-old American who lives in New England, just in case you thought here was another of those daunting Far Eastern prodigies. Not that she is unimpressive, for her playing has such complete technical ease and clarity, it almost suggests no human is involved. At the same time, Chung has decided views on the music. Her way with the humorous, even cheeky first movement of Op. 31/1 is to stress Beethoven’s joke about hands-not-together, by playing them closer together than usual. In all three movements she’s inclined to dissect the music into separate phrases, making the whole a bit piecemeal, though the details are beautifully formed. She gives Op. 111 a lot more continuity, though none of the sense of a rough diamond battling his way to heaven – Chung sounds too perfectly in command of every awkwardness for that. Still, if you appreciate highly accomplished piano-playing, you’ll find this pretty amazing and the Bagatelles are lovely. The recording could hardly be better and the instrument sounds unusually good. Adrian Jack

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