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Hyperion Records

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Pietrasanta P09.29 (2009) by Caio Fonseca (b1959)
Reproduced by kind permission of the artist / www.caiofonseca.com
Track(s) taken from CDA67797
Recording details: September 2009
Das Kulturzentrum Grand Hotel, Dobbiaco, Italy
Produced by Ludger Böckenhoff
Engineered by Ludger Böckenhoff
Release date: July 2010
Total duration: 16 minutes 17 seconds

'The great A flat major Sonata and the later E minor Sonata receive emotionally contained, affectionate performances with exemplary attention to the score (I love the cushioned tone and rhythmic bounce Hewitt brings to Variation 2 of Op 26) … she plays the Allegretto of the 'Moonlight' with a delightful lilt while observing Beethoven's dynamic requests to the letter' (Gramophone)

'Hewitt's pristine articulation and clarity of thought, line and feeling are, as ever, inimitable … I am still surprised at just how expressively, and romantically, the great Canadian plays this music' (The Herald)

'Angela Hewitt's Beethoven is like no one else's … the sense of Beethoven’s music unfolding against a series of harmonic peaks and troughs is at its most poignant in the two-movement E minor Sonata Op 90. Not since Hans Richter-Haaser’s unsurpassed 1960s account for EMI (originally coupled to the 'Hammerklavier' and still, as far as I’m aware, awaiting issue on CD) has the tantalising compression of this priceless, iridescent gem been so exquisitely revealed' (International Piano)

Piano Sonata in F major, Op 10 No 2
composer
1797; No 6

Allegro  [8'23]
Allegretto  [3'50]
Presto  [4'04]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Piano Sonata in F major Op 10 No 2, takes us back to 1797, two years after Beethoven’s first public appearance in Vienna. Not only did he appear in many benefit concerts during that time (one of them was in aid of Mozart’s widow, Constanze, at which Beethoven played her husband’s Concerto in D minor, K466), but he also took part in several pianistic ‘duels’ with other Viennese and visiting virtuosos, each of whom had their own camp (Gelinek in 1793, Wölffl in 1799, and Steibelt in 1800). Gelinek told Czerny’s father one day that he was going to compete with some foreigner that very evening, adding ‘we must make mincemeat out of him’. When asked about the outcome, he said: ‘I’ll never forget yesterday evening! Satan himself is hidden in that young man. I have never heard anyone play like that! He improvised on a theme which I gave him as I never heard even Mozart improvise … He can overcome difficulties and draw effects from the piano such as we couldn’t even allow ourselves to dream about.’

When playing a Beethoven sonata it is important to remember how new and different this music sounded when it was first heard. Op 10 No 2 is basically a comedy, set up by the two chords and the throw-away turn at the very beginning. Of course we sense the presence of Haydn, but Beethoven was never anyone other than himself. After the development section of the first movement, in which another turn figure refuses to disappear, the music comes to a brief pause, making us wonder what will happen next. Beethoven teasingly gives us the recapitulation in the wrong key—D major—adding a whole new colour to the mix. But then he sneaks back to the tonic and brings this fun movement to a brilliant close.

The second movement, Allegretto, was initially conceived as a minuet and trio. Perhaps the title was changed because the repeat of the ‘minuet’ is quite varied and the whole thing not very dance-like. The middle section in D flat major makes us momentarily wonder if we are not listening to Schubert rather than to Beethoven. But the characteristic szforzandos couldn’t be by anyone else.

The finale seems to fuse Haydn’s mischievousness and Bach’s counterpoint, but with an exuberance typical of the young Beethoven. A hint of D major reminds us of his first movement high jinks, before hurtling us to the final unison F. Tovey writes that ‘a scrambling performance of this movement is among the ugliest experiences in music, and is permanently hurtful to the technique and style of the scrambler’. To be convincingly ‘bustling and merry’ (as Czerny describes this movement) one must unfortunately also be able to play the notes!

from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2010

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