A Single Breath: Beethoven's Last Sonatas

Beth Levin

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A Single Breath: Beethoven's Last Sonatas Review

by Blair Sanderson

Ludwig van Beethoven composed his last three piano sonatas between 1820 and 1822, saying he had conceived them in "a single breath," which explains their similar modes of expression, shared techniques, and reflective character. Beth Levin has approached Opp. 109, 110, and 111 with this sense of continuity in mind, and her interpretations show more than just a consistency of expression between the works, but also a kind of rapt introspection that is seldom encountered on CD. Playing through each of Beethoven's sonatas at a relaxed pace, with slow tempos that are unusual, and shaping her expressions in a rhapsodic style, Levin offers highly personal readings that are notable for the free use of rubato. With a focus on individual expression and an emphasis on Romantic spontaneity, she gives the music her own stamp and presents the sonatas in a subjective manner that will appeal to casual listeners.

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