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Cat. No. CHAN 9842 Price: £5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9842 - Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Op. 31
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Available From: 17 August 2000
In 1802 when he composed the three sonatas of Op. 31, Beethoven expressed dissatisfaction with earlier works and indicated his desire to pursue a ‘new path’. At around the same time, he sought to come to terms with his incurable deafness and experienced the personal crisis documented in his ‘Heiligenstadt Testament’, in which he refers to thoughts of suicide rejected in favour of a renewed commitment to his art. A spirit of restless creativity indeed animates the sonata trilogy of Op. 31, marking the onset of Beethoven’s ‘second period’ style. The opening gestures of each sonata already reflect this innovative trend.

The first movement of the Sonata in G major, Op. 31 No. 1 revels in paradoxical contrasts, the juxtaposition of F major and G major, the use of the mediant instead of the dominant. The second movement assumes an almost operatic flavour, indulging in decorative ornamentation that sometimes reveals a character of gentle mockery. The finale is a gracious Rondo, but with alterations to the expected rondo design.

In his ‘Tempest’ Sonata in D minor, Op. 31 No. 2, Beethoven places an innovative gesture at the outset of the work. Instead of beginning with an integrated theme in a single tempo he breaks up the opening into segments of three different tempi: ‘Largo’, ‘Allegro’ and ‘Adagio’.

Unlike its companions, the Sonata in E flat major, Op. 31 No. 3 is in four movements, with a Scherzo and Minuet sandwiched between the opening ‘Allegro’ and the sonata-form finale. The outer movements display a powerful rhythmic verve and also show humorous qualities. The Scherzo is unusual in its 2/4 metre and in its use of sonata form.

‘Lortie’s performance is accomplished and sensitive, his performance in the quieter dynamic levels has poise and charm…’
‘Hi-Fi News and Record Review’ on CHAN 9736 (Beethoven)

‘Lortie is a stunning pianist for whom technical problems do not even exist… should be heard by anyone interested in Beethoven’s piano music.’
‘Fanfare’ on CHAN 9435 (Beethoven)

‘…Canadian pianist Louis Lortie unleashes superb tonal power and immaculate chord playing… The finale flows effortlessly to its enigmatic close… The recording is of demonstration quality.’
‘Classic CD’ on CHAN 9755 (Beethoven)


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