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Hyperion Records

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The Cathedral by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Musée Rodin, Paris / Peter Willi / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67662
Recording details: September 2008
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: May 2010
Total duration: 15 minutes 26 seconds

'Instantly recommends itself as an important addition to the catalogue … this Beethoven disc similarly makes one marvel at the way Osborne's own personality seems able to ally itself with the composer's, in the way he illuminates aspects of style, structure and substance with clarity, subtlety and dynamism' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Osborne … has that special ability to make music that you thought you knew inside out seem fresh and totally alive' (The Guardian)

'Performances of exceptional quality … and real stature … this is an outstanding disc' (International Record Review)

'The Moonlight, Op 27 No 2 , receives a particularly satisfying performance, from the first movement's magically limpid, unhurried mysteries, through the allegretto's sprightly curtseys, to the finale, so deservedly marked presto agitato. It's in this movement that Osborne really hits the heights. He drives the notes forward, stirring excitement without succumbing to the melodramatic … the Pathétique and Waldstein sonatas receive equally refreshing and sensitive accounts. And all are recorded with Hyperion's usual finesse' (The Times)

'In the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, Osborne casts a spell from the very opening, suggesting improvisation yet also a searching harmonic rigour and beguiling the ear with subtle colour and touch' (ClassicalSource.com)

Piano Sonata in C sharp minor 'Moonlight', Op 27 No 2
composer
1801; published in March 1802; No 14; Beethoven's subtitle is 'quasi una Fantasia'; the nickname 'Moonlight' comes from Ludwig Rellstab's description of the opening movement; dedicated to Countess Giulietta Guicciardi

Adagio sostenuto  [6'01]
Allegretto  [1'59]
Presto agitato  [7'26]

Other recordings available for download
Artur Pizarro (piano)
Angela Hewitt (piano)
Stephen Hough (piano)   May 2014 Release
Ignacy Jan Paderewski (piano)
Harold Bauer (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
If the title of the Op 13 Sonata at least has some semblance of authenticity, the same cannot be said of the nickname that has become attached to the second of the pair of sonatas Op 27. It was the poet and music critic Ludwig Rellstab who described its famous opening movement as evoking ‘a boat, visiting, by moonlight, the primitive landscapes of Lake Lucerne’. Curiously enough, to Beethoven’s pupil Carl Czerny, writing before Rellstab had penned his phrase, the sonata’s opening movement also suggested a nocturnal landscape. The piece, said Czerny, was ‘a night scene, in which the plaintive voice of a spirit is heard far in the distance’.

The Op 27 sonatas were issued in 1801, both of them with the sub-heading of ‘quasi una Fantasia’—a qualification indicating the freedom with which Beethoven was treating the traditional sonata design. The ‘Moonlight’ Sonata’s famous opening movement bears the direction: Si deve suonare tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamente e senza sordino (‘This entire piece must be played with the utmost delicacy, and without dampers’). ‘Senza sordino’ was Beethoven’s habitual marking at this stage of his career for the use of the sustaining pedal, and although on a modern piano his instruction needs to be treated with some caution, a certain degree of harmonic blurring is implied in order to convey the music’s unbroken atmosphere of plaintive mystery. Beethoven was to exploit similar overlapping pedal effects in the rondo theme of the ‘Waldstein’ Sonata.

As he was to do the following year in his ‘Tempest’ Sonata Op 31 No 2, Beethoven maintains the darkness of the minor mode throughout the two outer movements, while writing the middle movement entirely in the major. (‘A flower between two abysses’ was Liszt’s evocative description of the minuet-like second movement of Op 27 No 2.) The finale is an unrelentingly agitated piece whose coda, with its ‘strummed’ diminished-seventh chords sweeping up the keyboard, reaches new heights of turbulence. Not until the ‘Appassionata’ Op 57 did Beethoven write another finale for piano of comparable dramatic intensity.

from notes by Misha Donat © 2010


Other albums featuring this work
'In the Night' (CDA67996)
In the Night
Pre-order CD by post £10.50 CDA67996  May 2014 Release  
'Beethoven: Piano Sonatas' (CKD244)
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas
MP3 £8.00FLAC £10.00ALAC £10.00 CKD244  Download only  
'Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 3' (CDA67797)
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 3
'Harold Bauer – The complete recordings' (APR7302)
Harold Bauer – The complete recordings
'Paderewski – His final recordings' (APR5636)
Paderewski – His final recordings

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