Magazine article Gramophone

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas-No 8

Magazine article Gramophone

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas-No 8

Article excerpt

Beethoven

Piano Sonatas--No 8, 'Pathetique', Op 13; No 23, 'Appassionata', Op 57. 'Eroica' Variations, Op 35

Konstantin Scherbakovpf

Two Pianists (F) TP1039190 (65' * ODD)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Beethoven introduces his Eroica Variations with the theme's bare-boned architectural essence. Konstantin Scherbakov, however, can't help but embellish the foundation with a breath pause here and an italicisation there, signifying entertainment up ahead. Sure enough, the pianist fortifies Var 1 's accompaniment with a lilting 'oom-pah' effect, while dispatching Var 2's left-hand part like a forceful walking bass-line. There's also an airy suppleness to Var 3's repeated-chord motif that one often doesn't hear. In Var 9, Scherbakov places the lefthand grace notes slightly off the beat to create an almost bagpipe-like drone, yet he curiously underplays those in Var 13's right hand, whereas Emanuel Ax relishes their dissonant and obsessive qualities. The lyrical variations and the fugal finale further benefit from Ax's larger portfolio of dynamics and expressive inflections.

There's an impassioned and fearless quality to Scherbakov's best Beethoven-Liszt symphony recordings which emerges only intermittently in the two 'name' sonatas here. …

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