Gerhard Oppitz

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Op. 10/1-3 & Op. 13 Pathétique

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This is Beethoven playing: lucid but passionate, strong but sensitive, restrained but soulful, and always and everywhere immensely profound. Although this is not Gerhard Oppitz's first disc of Beethoven's sonatas -- when he had a contract with RCA back in the '90s, Oppitz released a disc of the Pastoral, Tempest, and Les Adieux -- but it is far and away the better of the two. Not that the earlier disc was anything less than stunning -- Oppitz has apparently always had a limitless tone, a flawless technique, and an ability to dig way down deep inside Beethoven's music -- but the 10 years between that recording and this have done nothing to diminish his tone and technique and only deepened his interpretations. From the C minor power of Oppitz's Opus 10, No. 1, through the F major lyricism of his Opus 10, No. 2, to the D major majesty of Opus 10, No. 3, Oppitz demonstrates that he is a Beethoven player in the grand tradition of Schnabel, Fischer, Backhaus, and Kempff. And in the closing Pathétique Sonata, Oppitz's unique combination of complete formal command and nearly but not quite of reckless tempos is incredibly thrilling, something that could rarely, if ever, be said of Schnabel, Fischer, Backhaus, or Kempff. This is the first volume in a projected Beethoven cycle and Oppitz may prove himself to be the Beethoven player of his generation. Hänssler Classics' sound, unfortunately, is dim and dreary.

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