Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat, Op. 7; Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp, Op. 78; Piano Sonata No. 28 in A, Op. 101

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Bridge (both)
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat, Op. 7; Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp, Op. 78; Piano Sonata No. 28 in A, Op. 101
PERFORMER: Garrick Ohlsson (piano) – both
CATALOGUE NO: 9198 / 9201
We live in an age of great Beethoven

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piano playing, even if not of great

orchestral interpretation. One series

of records or discs after another has

emerged of the highest quality, so

that we can gain extremely varied

perspectives on the same works,

quite a few of them equally valid.

Even so, I doubt whether I shall

ever be as impressed by any future

performances as I have been by the

ones on the first two of a planned

complete cycle by the American

Garrick Ohlsson.

His career is something of a

mystery: having won the Chopin

competition in Warsaw in 1970, and

established himself as a great Chopin

interpreter, he has never made nearly

as big a reputation in the UK as he

should have done, though I heard

wonderful concerts from him in the

1970s here. Now, with the superb

sound engineering of Bridge, we can

hear him in six of the 32 sonatas, the

most familiar ones so far avoided,

but all these as fresh and compelling

as I have ever heard them. Ohlsson

commands a huge variety of tones,

pays immense attention to detail,

but contrives to be spontaneous and

to keep each whole work always in

view. The last work on the second

disc is Op. 111, the last sonata of all,

and given here as great a reading as

I have ever heard – and as great as

Ohlsson’s teacher, Claudio Arrau,

gave it. I can’t give it any higher

praise than that. Yet in some ways I was even

more impressed by the sheer stature

he finds, without going in for

inflationary measures, in the ‘little’

Sonata in F sharp minor, Op. 78.

Lasting only ten minutes, the effect

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it has is out of all proportion to that.