Abdel Rahman El Bacha

Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas

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Recording the full cycle of the 32 piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven is an important accomplishment for any pianist, and in the case of Abdel Rahman El Bacha, it is also a major statement. El Bacha has lived with these sonatas for decades and found in them not only the highest forms of musical expression but also a testament to Beethoven's life and moral character. This kind of interpretation of Beethoven's music usually suggests a subjective viewpoint and a Romantic sensibility, which in lesser hands might translate into intense, passionate, and possibly chaotic performances. Yet El Bacha is quite the opposite in his playing, calmly observant of what is written on the page and collected in his emotions and expressions, leaving no doubt of his clear thinking and resolute playing. Placing the sonatas in nearly chronological order, El Bacha demonstrates not only the evolution of Beethoven's style and intellectual development, but also communicates the growth of his artistic spirit, from the refinement of the early Classical sonatas to the concentrated power and sublimity of the late works. Mirare's box set presents the sonatas on 10 CDs in paper sleeves, which are housed in a sturdy trimline package. Ostensibly a budget set, the recordings are still quite good for the clean sound and the piano's vibrant presence.

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