Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos 3 & 21; Andante in F, Wo0 57; Rondo a capriccio in G

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2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Piano Sonatas Nos 3 & 21; Andante in F, Wo0 57; Rondo a capriccio in G
PERFORMER: Alice Sara Ott (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DG 477 9291

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All three of Beethoven’s Op. 2 Piano Sonatas require a kind of pianistic virtuosity unprecedented in the Viennese Classical tradition. The C major is the showiest of the lot, unleashing bursts of nervous energy, and begging the performer to wow the audience. Alice Sara Ott’s performance is oblivious to all this – at no point does she find a way to allow the music to stretch her either technically or expressively, whereas Stephen Kovacevich’s account fairly bristles with brusque humour. The Waldstein demands even greater virtuosity, and more musical imagination and insight.

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Here, too, Ott negotiates the notes acceptably but fails to create either plausible character in specific moments or narrative significance in the sequence of events. Her Waldstein sounds inept beside Richard Goode’s and many others. The Rondo a capriccio runs cleanly but does not bustle, while her trivial treatment of the Andante favori shuns melodic warmth. Ott palpably lacks both the musical insight and the life experience necessary to do justice to this music; even releasing (much less hyping) such performances does neither Ott nor Deutsche Grammophon any credit. David Breckbill