Alexei Lubimov

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Opp. 109-111

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The late piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven are monuments in the literature, and most listeners would likely agree that they sound most impressive on a modern-day grand piano, which can supply all the volume, weight, and sonority they demand. However, Alexei Lubimov has performed the Sonatas, Opp. 109, 110, and 111, on an Alois Graff pianoforte, built in 1828, an authentic instrument from Beethoven's period. The results are not quite as tinny or small-voiced as might be expected from a vintage pianoforte, but fuller and rounder in soft passages, and the instrument only acquires a jangly tone at the loudest dynamics. Lubimov's interpretations are thoughtful and unhurried, and the care he lavishes on the slow movements is to be admired. But he must have felt the need to be a little cautious playing the Allegros and Prestos, because he never thunders or slams his way through, and his sixteenth notes are very clearly articulated with a surprisingly delicate touch. This album will appeal most to the historically inclined, who will want to have an approximation of what Beethoven's contemporaries might have heard. Fortunately for listeners who want their Beethoven played on bigger modern instruments, the majority of recordings of the piano sonatas fill that need. Outhere's sound is highly resonant, thanks to the live acoustics of the United Mennonite Church, Haarlem.

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