Beethoven – Piano Sonatas Volume 3

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Piano Sonatas: No. 6 in F, Op. 10 No. 2; No. 12 in A flat, Op. 26; No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 (Moonlight); No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90
PERFORMER: Angela Hewitt (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67797

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As with her previous discs in this cycle, Angela Hewitt features one of Beethoven’s most familiar sonatas together with works that are not quite so frequently performed. This time the spotlight is on the Moonlight, and Hewitt’s performance is totally riveting.

Adopting a flowing yet sustained tempo for the opening movement, she creates a beautifully veiled and hypnotic sound despite consciously overriding Beethoven’s specific direction to hold down the pedal throughout.

The ensuing Allegretto is no less persuasive especially in the strongly rustic quality she brings to the middle section, whilst the Presto agitato balances tremendous finger dexterity with passion and urgency.

Not everything reaches this level. I wasn’t totally convinced by the second movement of Op. 90: the playing is certainly expressive but somehow an element of real tenderness is missing, and the frequent reiterations of the main theme begin to sound a little mechanical.

The first movement, on the other hand, works far better, Hewitt’s huge dynamic range and the richness of her Fazioli grand paying real dividends in projecting the music’s mesmerising contrasts of mood.

Following a warmly lyrical account of Op. 26, in which the Funeral March is delivered with an almost orchestral grandeur, Hewitt gives an extremely feisty performance of the early Op. 10 No. 2, placing special emphasis on the music’s frequent sforzando markings.

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Although the approach here is extremely exciting, the forwardly placed recording doesn’t always help the occasionally unwarranted harshness of tone in some passages. Erik Levi