WORKS: Piano Sonata in E flat, Op. 27/1; Piano Sonata in C sharp minor, Op. 27/2 (Moonlight); Piano Sonata in D, Op. 28 (Pastoral)
PERFORMER: Louis Lortie (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9736
This is the sixth volume in Lortie’s gradually unfolding set of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas, and his handling of these three works is mostly pretty impressive. He’s strong on dynamics, has a good sense of balance between the hands, and his tempt, on the whole, are well conceived. The first movement of the Moonlight is a bit on the slow side, but he sustains the interest, and although, for some reason, he omits the trills at 0:40 mins and elsewhere in the finale, that movement and the opening Allegro of Op. 28 are the high spots of his disc. The disappointment is the first movement of Op. 27/1. He brings out the melody line at bar 9 most beautifully, but where the Andante bursts into the ensuing Allegro he sounds almost apologetic. Barenboim attacks it boldly, and much more effectively, as if freshly released from the traps. Except for parts of the finale of Op. 27/2, where Lortie achieves even greater clarity than Barenboim does, and for a sparkling final coda to Op. 28, he isn’t quite on a par. Neither Lortie nor Barenboim is averse to a little rubato or a mini?accelerando now and then, but Barenboim’s work better than Lortie’s. If Lortie has a fault, it’s in thinking of the instant, rather than the longer period. He cannot quite match Barenboim’s innate sense of direction and purpose.
Also, Barenboim, on a generously filled mid?price disc, and with brighter sound, offers a substantial additional sonata (Op. 81a) in a performance which could scarcely be bettered. Wadham Sutton