Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Opp. 7 & 10/1, 2, 3

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven
WORKS: Piano Sonatas Opp. 7 & 10/1, 2, 3
PERFORMER: Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano)
CATALOGUE NO: SACD-1472
Ronald Brautigam’s warm-toned

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piano – a copy of an instrument

by Anton Walter of c1802 – serves

him particularly well in the lyrical

concluding rondo of the Sonata

Op. 7, with the figuration of its

stormy central episode returning in a

mollified form to bring the work to a

hauntingly beautiful close. This was

the first sonata Beethoven published

as a stand-alone work, and it’s one

of the most ambitious of his earlier

works of the kind. Brautigam brings

out all the urgency of its opening

Benchmark Bridge

calum macdonald applauds Bebbington’s virtuosic recital

Allegro, with its throbbing timpani

taps. His account of the deeply-felt

slow movement, though, is not an

unqualified success. It’s a piece

whose ‘sighing’ phrases are separated

by long pauses that need themselves

to carry a wealth of expression, and

the heavy accents Brautigam allows

himself in the opening bars disturb

the music’s essential serenity.

Brautigam gives generally fine

performances of the three Op. 10

sonatas, imparting a welcome sense

of spontaneity. The slow movement

of the last sonata in the group is one

of Beethoven’s great tragic utterances,

and one of only two pieces to which

he gave the heading of ‘mesto’ (sad).

Brautigam doesn’t perhaps quite

plumb all its depths, but on its own

terms his is an affecting account. For

a more overtly expressive performance

without any trace of self-conscious

soul-searching, Richard Goode

(playing a modern piano) strikes me

as ideal. In all these works Goode’s

recordings, made in the early 1990s,

still stand up very well; but if you’ve

been following Brautigam’s cycle you

won’t be disappointed by this latest

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instalment. Misha Donat