Beethoven: Piano Sonatas in F, Op. 10/2, in G, Op. 14/2, in E flat, Op. 27/1 (Quasi una fantasia), & in G, Op. 31/1

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Claves
WORKS: Piano Sonatas in F, Op. 10/2, in G, Op. 14/2, in E flat, Op. 27/1 (Quasi una fantasia), & in G, Op. 31/1
PERFORMER: Ursula Dütschler (fortepiano)
The glut in the classical recording market is hardly news in itself, but it raises some disturbing and previously unaddressed questions. Can there be such a thing, for instance, as too many first-rate pianists? And if such a surfeit exists, does it result in progressively higher standards for player and listener alike? It is a fact that each year, more pianists are being churned out by more conservatories in more countries than ever before. Very many of these will be players of real distinction and precious gifts. On purely artistic grounds, there are literally hundreds of pianists today who deserve front-line careers. Most of them we’ll never hear of. Some will flourish for a few years and then mysteriously disappear from view. I hope Emmanuel Strosser, of whom I’ve never previously heard, is luckier than that. A born musician, he can hold his own right now with most of today’s front runners. His tempi are impeccable, his phrasing curvaceous but never limp, his tonal palette wide but never indulgent, and his sense of overall structure is projected with no loss of detail along the way. And what of Ursula Dütschler? She made her first reputation as a harpsichordist of exceptional sophistication and is now emerging as one of the finest fortepianists around. Her playing is more idiosyncratic than Strosser’s, but none the less absorbing for that. It fizzes with life, displaying a keen understanding of Beethovenian drama – and hardly less important, Beethovenian humour. Highly recommended, to all but the most strait-laced. Jeremy Siepmann