A ‘Hammerklavier’ worth waiting for

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 14 & 29

Murray Perahia (piano)

On his latest Deutsche Grammophon release the American pianist Murray Perahia gives us two of Beethoven’s most innovative and contrasting piano sonatas: Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 ‘Moonlight’ and Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat major, Op. 106 ‘Hammerklavier’.

Murray Perahia has not previously recorded these two sonatas during his forty year career. In the case of the massive and demanding nature of the Piano Sonata No. 29 this is not so surprising although Perahia did explore this work whilst he was still in his twenties. What we get here is a fairly quick performance of the work although it never sounds hurried due largely to Perahia’s conviction and clarity. The changing moods of the work come across extremely well and Perahia’s use of dynamics is perfectly judged. In short this is a performance well worth the wait!

The Moonlight Sonata also benefits from Perahia’s experience and pianistic skills as he balances the light and shade within this piece quite exquisitely and plays with a sense of freedom that brings out the best in this work.

Fans of Murray Perahia will certainly wish to add this to their collection and, whilst neither of these performances will be my top choices for these works, this is certainly a recording that I shall return to often and from which I will derive a great deal of listening pleasure. A strongly recommended recording.

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