Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Opp. 57 "Appassionata," 10/3, 7

Angela Hewitt

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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Opp. 57 "Appassionata," 10/3, 7 Review

by James Leonard

A very nice combination of two early and one middle period Beethoven sonatas, this disc will probably be most interesting for what it tells listeners about Angela Hewitt than what it tells them about Beethoven. A renowned Bach player -- her earlier recordings of Bach's keyboard works played on the piano were among the most highly praised since her countryman Glenn Gould's recordings -- Hewitt turns out to be an always enjoyable and often exciting Beethoven player. From the opening Presto of her D major Sonata, Op. 10/3, to the closing Allegro ma non troppo of her F minor "Appassionata," Hewitt is clearly up to whatever Beethoven's music asks her to do technically. And in the central Largo e mesto from her D major Sonata and the Largo, con gran espressione from her E flat major Sonata, Op. 7, Hewitt is clearly down with whatever Beethoven asks her to do interpretively. But despite the undoubted excellence of her playing, Hewitt finds nothing new in the music. Whatever is in her performances has been in other earlier performances -- one hears Kempff's clarity or Gould's velocity -- but nothing that hasn't been heard before. Indeed, even the excitement of her playing seems less the reckless passion of Richter or Horowitz than the controlled passion of Brendel or Pollini. Recorded in Hyperion's cool, clean digital sound, Hewitt's Beethoven performances tell us that, so far at least, Hewitt is a better Bach player than a Beethoven player.

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