Seymour Lipkin

Beethoven: The Complete Sonatas, Vol. 2 - Sonatas 11-22

(CD - Newport Classic #60172/3)

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This is the second volume of three in Lipkin's cycle of Beethoven sonatas for Newport. It covers the last of Beethoven's early period sonatas and the beginning of his middle period ones. Lipkin is an extremely capable pianist. He doesn't fumble in the more difficult spots; he doesn't over-pedal and muddy his sound, and his playing isn't devoid of expression. However, as well as he does play, his recordings leave you feeling that maybe you need to see him performing to get the full effect of the greatness of Beethoven's work and how Lipkin feels about it. It almost sounds as if he followed Beethoven's expressive markings literally, adding little extra expression of his own, like the difference between seeing an intricately designed stained glass window on a cloudy day and seeing it with sunlight streaming through it. The little Sonatas, Op. 49, are early works, and Lipkin doesn't treat them as delicate frivolities, but they could be more charming. In the finale of the Waldstein, he very smoothly handles all the left hand runs against the right hand melody, which could be a little more lyrical. Overall, these are adept, straightforward performances, captured with really good sound quality.

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