Mari Kodama

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 30-32

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The late piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven are among his most profoundly moving and satisfying works, and something worthwhile usually can be derived from most renditions, even average performances that don't necessarily have the best sound quality. However, in the case of a sensitive artist performing with depth of feeling and brilliant technique, and being recorded with the best possible audio reproduction, the results can be quite impressive. PentaTone's hybrid SACD of the piano sonatas, Opp. 109, 110, and 111 is an excellent presentation of Mari Kodama's marvelous interpretations of these masterpieces, and one can scarcely ask for a better recording in terms of the music and sound quality. Not only does Kodama apply a keen intellect and mature emotion to her playing, and demonstrate a spectacular technique, she actually gets the music to sound precisely as written. All of Beethoven's rhythmic oddities and unexpected syncopations work, and Kodama's meticulous sense of the beat keeps them buoyant and surprising because a steady pulse is always evident. She never obscures Beethoven's counterpoint, even if to do so would make better dramatic sense, and the clarity of her articulation and phrasing makes it possible to hear everything, including the awkward voice leading in the fugues. Yet under it all is an expressive coherence that makes each sonata feel whole and meaningfully connected to the larger body of Beethoven's keyboard works. This is visionary music, and Kodama perceives and conveys everything Beethoven intended. Highly recommended.

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