Martin Roscoe performs the latest instalment of his Beethoven piano sonata series, including the Moonlight Sonata

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Deux-Elles
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven
WORKS: Piano Sonatas Nos 13 in E flat (Quasi una fantasia), 14 in C sharp minor (Moonlight), 15 in D (Pastorale) and 22 in F, Op. 54; Piano Sonatina in F minor, WoO 47, No. 2
PERFORMER: Martin Roscoe (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DXL 1166

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For this latest instalment of his Beethoven piano sonata series, Martin Roscoe has gone for four of the early middle-period sonatas, together with – as in two others of the series – a very early work, non-canonical, which turns out to be interesting and as bold as one expects from the young lion. By the time I had listened to this disc through, though, I had developed something approaching a rage at the violence with which Roscoe was imbuing anything which wasn’t obviously lyrical or veiled. The disc is called ‘Moonlight’, and of course the first movement of the eponymous sonata is given the appropriate restrained treatment, with interesting unusual details. But the last movement is banged out so mercilessly that I almost stopped listening. And then, throughout the other works here, the slamming, particularly of chords in the left hand, is so relentless that, though Roscoe is perfectly capable of a wide range of dynamics and can caress the notes with the best, the only impression one is left with is of having one’s head clobbered with a frying pan. I think that the recording engineer must be partly to blame, but the results must have been passed by the pianist.

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Michael Tanner