Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 2

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Deux-Elles
WORKS: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 2: Piano Sonatas: in E flat, Op. 7; in G minor, Op. 49, No. 1; in G, Op. 49 No. 2 & in C, Op. 53 (Waldstein)
PERFORMER: Martin Roscoe (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: Deux-Elles DXL 1162

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Pairing the Sonata in E flat, Op. 7 with the Waldstein is illuminating: both begin with a toccata-like idea and have a smooth chorale as their second subject, though the effect is very different in each case. The E flat Sonata is one of the most beautiful of Beethoven’s earlier sonatas: in a deeply-felt slow movement the silences speak as eloquently as the sighing phrases
that surround them, and it ends magically with arpeggios fading into the distance.

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Martin Roscoe gives a fine account of the Waldstein, capturing all the music’s flamboyance, and meticulously conveying Beethoven’s controversial pedal-markings in the concluding rondo. His affectionate performances of the Op. 49 Sonatas  leave nothing to be desired, either. So it’s all the more disappointing to find the Op. 7 Sonata rather prosaic, with the slow movement – a Largo con gran’ espressione – lacking in depth, and the sweeping triplets of the minuet’s trio section conveying little sense of mystery. Among modern versions, Paul Lewis’s more atmospherically recorded performance captures the Sonata’s character more vividly. But in the remaining works here, Roscoe has much to offer. Misha Donat