Vladimir Feltsman (piano)
Nimbus NI 6399 67:15 mins
Vladimir Feltsman has courted a good deal of controversy, to the extent that I thought he was no longer recording the masterworks of whose idiosyncratic accounts he made a name for himself. This new recording is ideal for him, for it consists of Beethoven’s whimsical ideas, where problems of large-scale forms don’t arise, because they are an average of three minutes long. In Beethoven’s large-scale works there are passages of strange, seemingly irrelevant music before an evidently organic element recurs. These bagatelles are like fragments taken out of grave contexts, and conveniently they come from his first, second and last periods, the final ones as mischievously sublime as certain passages in the late piano sonatas and the last quartets. Fortunately Feltsman doesn’t try to make idiosyncratic music into something more or different, and concludes with a straightfaced account of that curse of the beginner, Für Elise.
It may not be a good idea to play this disc straight through, but you could keep it on hand to play in between more demanding pieces, and it may even reveal to you lovely gems that don’t often get programmed because of their brevity.