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CD Review

Ludwig van Beethoven

VAI 1021

Piano Concerto #4 & Sonata #27

  • Concerto for Piano #4 in G Major, Op. 58 (1804)
  • Sonata for Pian #27 in E minor, Op. 90 (1814)
  • 32 Variations on an Original Theme in C minor, WoO. 80 (1806)
Ivan Moravec, piano
Vienna Musikverein Orchestra/Martin Turnovsky
Solo works recorded in 1966
Concerto recorded October, 1963
VAI Audio VAIA1021 ADD Playing time: 55:53
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Both the Sonata and C Minor Variations were once available on LP (Connoisseur Society CS2000), while the concerto had a limited run as a 45-RPM audiophile LP (CS163). Put simply, these are among the most arrestingly individual Beethoven interpretations ever recorded. In execution, Moravec is stupendous. His uncommonly finished, super-refined pianism enables him to achieve infinite shadings of nuance and articulation by fingers alone, using the sustain pedal ever so discreetly. Yet his playing is full of surging passion and is unfailingly musical at all times. Moreover the Czech pianist commands a huge dynamic range and masterly legato, essential ingredients in realizing Beethoven's relentlessly contrasting textures. For his part Turnovsky elicits ultra-precise and supremely detailed playing from his Viennese band.

I'm sorry that VAI couldn't make room to include Moravec's equally gripping "Appassionata" sonata, originally coupled with the above solo works on LP. In the concerto, Moravec opts for the composer's less familiar cadenza, as heard in recordings by Brendel, Gieseking and Gilels. The superlative sonics further make this a release to cherish.

(Published in the March/April 1994 Keyboard Classics, now Piano Today)

Copyright © 1997, Jed Distler

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