Search - Ludwig van Beethoven, Murray Perahia, Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields :: Beethoven: String Quartet, Op. 127; Piano Sonata, Op. 101

Beethoven: String Quartet, Op. 127; Piano Sonata, Op. 101
Ludwig van Beethoven, Murray Perahia, Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
Beethoven: String Quartet, Op. 127; Piano Sonata, Op. 101
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1

First the good news, though it's hardly new: Murray Perahia is a marvelous pianist. His performance of the Beethoven Sonata must be one of the best on record. Everything about it is "right": the sound is beautiful, with an...  more »

     
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Amazon.com
First the good news, though it's hardly new: Murray Perahia is a marvelous pianist. His performance of the Beethoven Sonata must be one of the best on record. Everything about it is "right": the sound is beautiful, with an extraordinary variety of touch, color and nuance; the rhythm is flexible but steady, the phrasing perfect; tempo and mood changes are subtle and poised, transitions balanced. The elusive first movement is wonderfully poetic, the Scherzo sparkles without being hectic, the slow movement is deeply expressive (truly "yearning," as Beethoven indicates), and melts naturally into the brilliant buoyancy of the Finale, ending in a burst of triumphant glory. Perahia uses a new edition of the Beethoven sonatas that he is preparing, but the innovations seem to be slight. The news about Op. 127 is less good. Composers have traditionally used the string quartet, that incomparably intimate combination, to express their inmost thoughts and feelings. Arranged as a "symphony" it loses its emotionally concentrated, inward, personal character. Doubling the parts and adding a bass makes the texture bottom-heavy, thick and muddy; moreover, it creates intonational problems for the players and restricts their freedom and spontaneity. In short, nothing is gained and much is lost in the transformation. This performance of Op. 127, though careful and conscientious, illustrates all these defects. The grand, majestic first movement becomes bombastic, the second dense and heavy; the Scherzo is too fast for clarity, aggressive rather than humorous, the Finale loses its gracious charm. Throughout, the balance is poor, the dynamic contrast excessive, with lots of whispering that seems like a failed attempt to preserve the transparency of the original. Of course one cannot gain an impression of Perahia the maestro on the basis of this disc, but one might suspect that this work was chosen--indeed created--for his conducting debut because it is both a masterpiece and a novelty. --Edith Eisler

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CD Reviews

An eccentric transcription and an Op. 101 that sometimes fir
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 11/16/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Murray Perahia has been a traditionalist all his life and as such has recorded a good deal of Beethoven, but his forays into the sonatas have been intermittent. He was apparently shy of approaching the late sonatas, and after this Op. 101 from 2004, no more followed. I think I can hear why. He's not temperamentally sympathetic to the unruly, jagged aspects of Beethoven's final imagination. To compensate, the pianist constantly rounds off the sharp curves and flattens the abrupt accents. This attempt to tame the sonata is misguided to begin with, I'm afraid.

The main failing is in the first movement, with its many odd gear changes. The quick-march second movement and brief Adagio go well enough, although the latter fails to sound mysterious despite Perahia's accomplished touch. Perahia seems happiest in the finale, where his ability to clarify the left and right hand is remarkable. The music comes alive with wit and sparkle -- not the only way to approach this music, but entertaining in its brio.

As for the string orchestra transcription of the Op. 127 quartet, Perahia turns out to be an appealing conductor, and the ASMF play with obvious affection. Is this a successful version? Well, the first movement turns out to be a refreshing srenade for strings in its new guise, and the slow movement holds it own. But the last two movements were tailored to the sound and teture of a string quartet, too much so for massed strings to sound right."