WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 11 in B flat, Op. 22; Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat, Op. 26; Piano Sonata No. 13 in E flat, Op. 27/1 (Quasi una fantasia); Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27/2 (Moonlight)
PERFORMER: Tatiana Nikolayeva (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: OCD 564 ADD
These recordings were made at public recitals in Moscow in 1983, ten years before Nikolayeva died. They cover the sonatas that Beethoven wrote between 1797 and 1801, in chronological order, culminating in the Op. 27 pair, both called ‘quasi una fantasia’ because of their relatively free plan.
Nikolayeva’s way with Beethoven carries as much authority as her more famous interpretations of Bach. These are real performances, whose abundant warmth and exuberance make the studio recordings of Richard Goode sound comparatively cerebral and, in terms of expression, under-projected.
Op. 22, admittedly not the most attractive sonata of this period, suffers from a particularly bad spate of fidgets and coughs in the audience, as well as a strange atmospheric noise like frying fish. Then, inevitably, there are the odd fluffs. But many people will find that these are minor penalties to pay for the thrill of hearing a great artist at the height of her powers. Adrian Jack