American pianist Andrew Rangell started his recording career with Bach's massive Goldberg Variations in 1989, and then moved on to Beethoven's monumental five final sonatas in 1990 and 1991. Since then, he has released recordings of works by composers as close to Beethoven as Schubert and as far from Beethoven as Ives, but while he has returned to Bach several times, he has not returned to Beethoven's sonatas until this 2009 disc coupling the composer's three Opus 10 sonatas with his single Op. 13 Sonata, the "Pathétique." What a pleasure it is to hear Rangell tear into these early works! With a combination of intellectual rigor, emotional passion, and technical virtuosity, Rangell turns in performances that rival the finest ever recorded. The sweeping strength of his opening Presto in the D major Sonata Op. 10/3, and the irrepressible energy of his Prestissimo in the C minor Sonata, Op. 10/1, are incredibly impressive. But even more remarkable are the expressive depths of his slow movements. His Largo e mesto from the D major Sonata is a musical dark night of the soul, and his Adagio cantabile from the Pathétique Sonata is as balm in Gilead. Most importantly, Rangell never seems to be imposing his interpretations on the music, but rather finding the true greatness in the music itself, and bringing it to the surface in performances faithful both to the letter and to the spirit of the scores. The CD has clean but atmospheric digital sound, and Rangell serves as his own producer. This disc should appeal to anyone who has followed the gifted pianist's career or who enjoys great piano playing.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Piano Sonata No. 5 in C minor, Op. 10/1|
|Piano Sonata No. 6 in F major, Op. 10/2|
|Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10/3|
|Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor ("Pathétique"), Op. 13|