Confidence, energy, brashness, terseness and humour: these five words succinctly characterize Beethoven’s early piano sonatas. However, with Op. 10 No. 3’s D minor Largo e mesto, a new quality – soul-bearing depth – comes into play – and settles in for the remainder of Beethoven’s creative life. During the late 1970s, when VladimirAshkenazy’s integral Beethoven sonata project for Decca neared completion, the pianist decided to remake several works that had been recorded and released earlier. As a result, the cycle included Ashkenazy’s 1978 version of the ‘Appassionata’, 1979 version of Op. 10 No. 3 and 1980 version of the ‘Pathétique’ but not the earlier traversals reissued here for the first time on CD. These earlier readings – Op. 10 No. 3 and the ‘Appassionata’ were recorded in 1970 and the ‘Pathétique’ in 1972 – can be more impetuous with greater rhetorical freedom and more liberal inflections. Their kinetic power and dynamism are hard to resist.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10 No. 3
Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 ‘Pathétique’
Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ‘Appassionata’
[The First Recordings]
Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano