Moto Perpetuo: Beethoven Piano Sonatas

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COMPOSERS: Ludwig van Beethoven
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Moto Perpetuo
WORKS: Neethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos 12, 17, 22 and 27
PERFORMER: Javier Perianes (piano)


Spanish pianist Javier Perianes approaches Beethoven with a freshness and individuality that is immediately engaging. The opening movement of Sonata No. 12, Op. 26 demonstrates some exceptional qualities, most obviously his ability to maximise contrast and characterisation between the different variations; he produces a beautifully veiled tone for those passages of a more reflective nature. The ensuing Scherzo has a wonderfully mercurial lightness of touch and is full of good humour, features that also distinguish his quicksilver treatment of the moto perpetuo semiquaver passage work in the Finale. More controversially, the tempo for the Funeral March slow movement seems to me to be a bit too deliberate given the composer’s prescribed Andante marking.

There are some idiosyncratic but convincing touches of rubato at the end of the short Sonata No. 22, Op. 54 that bring an unexpected wistfulness to the return of the main Minuet material. But I’m less persuaded by the sudden acceleration of tempo in the closing bars of the Allegretto, which seems disconnected from the rest of the movement.

The two minor key Sonatas illustrate both the strengths and weaknesses of Perianes’s playing. As in the rest of this warmly recorded programme, he delivers extremely insightful and atmospheric playing in the most lyrical movements, such as the Adagio of the Tempest Op. 31 No. 2 and the Rondo of No. 27, Op. 90. On the other hand, in the more turbulent passages in the outer movements of Op. 31 No. 2, there are occasions where he seems to force the tone unnecessarily.


Erik Levi