Magazine article Gramophone

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas-No 14, 'Moonlight', Op 27 No 2; No 29, 'Hammerklavier', Op 106

Magazine article Gramophone

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas-No 14, 'Moonlight', Op 27 No 2; No 29, 'Hammerklavier', Op 106

Article excerpt

Beethoven

Piano Sonatas--No 14, 'Moonlight', Op 27 No 2; No 29, 'Hammerklavier', Op 106. Die Ruinen von Athen, Op 113 (arr Bax)--Chorus of Whirling Dervishes; Turkish March Alessio Bax pf Signum [F] SIGCD397 (62' * DDD)

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Often known as 'the Mount Everest of the keyboard', Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata poses every conceivable problem, musically and technically (though the two are indissoluble). Even Myra Hess, a great Beethoven pianist, was daunted by its demands, leaving it to others for public performance. For Alessio Bax the challenge remains, but is superbly resolved in a reading of a formidable pace and impetus yet leaving ample time for expressive resource. His opening Allegro is like a river in full spate (though sharply focused rather than, as in Schnabel's case, a frenetic race against the clock). At the same time the great Adagio sostenuto, appassionato e con molto sentimento is just that, finely shaded and tautly disciplined, while Bax's final fugue, rapid and resolute, is, as Stravinsky put it, 'contemporary forever'. …

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