Beethoven, Schubert, Czerny: Piano Music

Jin Ju

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Beethoven, Schubert, Czerny: Piano Music Review

by James Manheim

Performance and engineering are nicely matched in this release by Chinese pianist Jin Ju, a faculty member at Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music who has also taught in Italy. Her Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ("Appassionata"), is quiet and detailed; think Brendel with the emotional temperature lowered yet a few more degrees. The weight of the outer movements is shifted toward the end, with Beethoven's disintegrating themes not given their full intensity until they begin to cohere. Jin aims at a glowing, shimmering effect. These aren't the first adjectives that come to mind in connection with the "Appassionata," but the MDG label's engineering team, working in a disused monastery farmhouse, outdoes itself with the subtle sounds of Jin's piano. Another attraction is the rarely heard Variations on La Ricordanza, Op. 33, by Carl Czerny, a Paganini-spirited virtuoso piece that has occasionally been recorded but probably never on an audiophile disc. The final item on the program, Schubert's Piano Sonata in C minor, D. 958, is perhaps the least successful in Jin's very circumspect reading; it has fewer pianistic effects to bring out in this kind of recording. This is nevertheless a pleasure for audiophile listeners.

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