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  BIS -
  Beethoven: Complete Piano Works Vol. 4 - Brautigam
  Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat Op. 26, Piano Sonata No. 13 in E flat Op. 27 No. 1, Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor Op. 27 No. 2 "Moonlight", Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major Op. 28 "Pastoral"

Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano)
Track listing:
  Classical - Instrumental
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 14 show all

Reviews: 2

Site review by ramesh April 17, 2007
Performance:   Sonics:  
So far, Brautigam's Beethoven cycle is consistently strong. He uses the same instrument as in previous issues, a 2001 copy of an 1802 fortepiano. The modern manufacture avoids some of the creaks often heard in recordings of original fortepianos : only in the first movement of the 'Moonlight' do mechanism sounds from a hand pedal become intrusive. The more rapid decay of the fortepiano's strings permits less muddy textures, especially in the bass, at the rapid speeds which this pianist selects.

Comparisons with the legions of pianists who have recorded these sonatas on a modern grand are rendered somewhat moot by the choice of instrument. Perhaps the first of the sonatas on the SACD, the 'Funeral March', gains least from the choice of instrument. The interpretatively elusive opening variation movement, as well as the third movement marcia funebre, sound imposing in themselves, but comparisons to Schnabel, Gilels and Richter show the extra depths which can be gained from the extra power and sustaining power of a modern concert grand.

In contrast, the following Op 27/1 demonstrates more than virtually any other sonata so far in this series the advantages of the chosen instrument. The scalic passages and motifs of the first movement can and frequently do sound bland on a modern piano. Here, the changes in timbre through the compass of the keyboard work to the music's advantage. Many pianists have skirted over the major-minor modulations in the development section of this movement. It can sound magical in the hands of a Schnabel or Arrau, and here Brautigam joins these two masters. He is abetted by the use of what I presume is the una corda pedal to emphasise the occurrence of the modulation. The rest of the work is likewise insightful.

For the Moonlight, I used as a comparison Igor Kipnis on Epiphany EP-1, who performs on a restored 1793 fortepiano. Brautigam takes a relatively brisk 5:49 in the first movement. The impression here is not of longing but serenity and repose. It is a surprise to hear Kipnis's fortepiano after Brautigam's, for even though the two originals are separated by less than a decade, the 1793 piano sounds far more twangy, with markedly disparate bass and treble timbres. Kipnis elicits darker, more disturbed emotions in the opening movement of the Moonlight. Brautigam side-by-side sounds mellower to the point of blandness. Nevertheless Brautigam's instrument is better able to cope with the stormy finale than Kipnis's original instrument.

The Pastorale is given a symphonic rendition in the first two movements, although comparisons with Brendel and Kempff yield more insights here in terms of tone colour and rhythmic pointing. The great climaxes in the opening movement of the Pastorale are forceful yet exceptionally clear due to the characteristics of the instrument. The final two movements lack some of the impish wit inherent in Beethoven's writing, but this is the only dimension in the Beethoven sonatas which goes relatively underremarked in the four SACDs so far published. Nevertheless, a fine achievement.

Review by JJ May 28, 2007 (2 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Le quatrième volume de l’intégrale des Sonates pour piano de Beethoven par Ronald Brautigam sur piano forte regroupe les opus 26, 27 N°1 & 2 et 28. La Sonate N°12 en la bémol majeur « Marche funèbre » Op. 26 est dédiée au prince Karl von Lichnowsky. Elle fut composée en 1800-1801 pour une édition en mars 1802. La marche funèbre du troisième mouvement fut commentée ainsi dans la presse de l’époque : « Quelques passages sont peut-être travaillés avec trop d’art. Toutefois, ce la ne s’applique nullement au morceau d’harmonie véritablement grand, sombre et magnifique, car là tout ce qui est difficulté et art est nécessaire à l’expression ». La Sonate N°13 en mi bémol majeur « Quasi una Fantasia » Op. 27 N°1, datant également des années 1800-1801, est une œuvre profondément originale notamment dans son architecture et dans sa recherche mélodique. La célébrissime Sonate N°14 en ut dièse mineur « Clair de Lune » Op. 27 N°2 est dédiée à la comtesse Giulietta Guicciardi, une des grandes passions amoureuses du compositeur. Et pour conclure ce programme copieux, nous retrouvons la Sonate N°15 en ré majeur « Pastorale » Op. 26 datant toujours de 1801 qui ne fut guère appréciée par son auteur : « Je ne suis guère content de ce que j’ai écrit jusqu’à présent ; désormais je vais suivre une autre voie ». Ronald Brautigam embrasse le corpus de ces grandes partitions avec les mêmes options interprétatives que lors des volumes précédents. L’intelligence de son discours musical impose à ces œuvres une dimension unique que le piano forte renforce indubitablement. La passion du pianiste hollandais, élève notamment de Rudolf Serkin, enflamme véritablement les œuvres abordées, rendant ainsi à la musique de Beethoven sa force expressive initiale. Un grand disque.

Jean-Jacques Millo

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Works: 4  

Ludwig van Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat, Op. 26
Ludwig van Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 13 in E flat, Op. 27 No. 1
Ludwig van Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 "Moonlight"
Ludwig van Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 "Pastoral"