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Hyperion Records

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Pietrasanta C02.15 by Caio Fonseca (b1959)
Reproduced by kind permission of the artist / www.caiofonseca.com
Track(s) taken from CDA67518
Recording details: September 2005
Das Kulturzentrum Grand Hotel, Dobbiaco, Italy
Produced by Ludger Böckenhoff
Engineered by Ludger Böckenhoff
Release date: October 2006
Total duration: 25 minutes 19 seconds

'Angela Hewitt's first instalment in a projected Beethoven sonata cycle offers intelligent, stylish and often illuminating interpretations … fusing poetry and passion, Hewitt lets her long hair down and her fingers run wild' (Gramophone)

'Every bit as intellectually lucid, technically secure and focussed, as her Bach … this exhilarating clarity of thought is matched by her clean incisive sound (well caught by the recording), and helps to contribute to the striking sense of purpose in these relatively early and still essentially classical works' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Angela Hewitt brings her trademark intelligence and poise to these fine recordings … in [the Appassionata] she shows a firm grasp of the work's majestic architecture, realising each dramatic climax while steadily sustaining its momentum. But it is in the slow movements of the other two sonatas, especially the D major, that Hewitt is at her most affecting, her depth of feeling equal to the 'great expression' demanded by the composer' (The Observer)

'As this impressive new disc shows, it is a mistake to try to pigeon-hole Angela Hewitt' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Clarity, elegance, intelligence, a belief in letting the composer speak: the winner of the Gramophone Artist of the Year award parades her qualities in the first of a new Beethoven series that balances the overfamiliar Appassionata with the connoisseur’s Op 10 No 3 and neglected Op 7. There’s not a dead note anywhere. The largos find her piercing the depths; she’s equally impressive at quicksilver turns and tumbling cascades' (The Times)

'There's red-hot fire in Hewitt's belly as she tackles these three Beethoven masterpieces. The two earlier sonatas … glitter with adroit wit. The 'Appassionata' is startlingly explosive—as it should be' (Classic FM Magazine)

'A very promising start to another Beethoven cycle … if Hewitt continues on this trajectory, her Beethoven sonatas should be as enriching as her Bach has proved to be' (Fanfare, USA)

'Hewitt meets Beethoven head on. It will not do to call her a woman pianist. She is a pianist's pianist, period, pure and simple, capable of holding her own with any number of brilliant men who have recorded this music. She has formidable finger strength. Her pianissimos have elegance and discretion, but her fortisssimos and sforzandos are clarion calls to rouse lovers of romanticism. Her response, say, to those familiar knuckle-crunching demands of the Appassionata's last movement is gasp-inducing, yet she never blurs a note or lets a chord get crowded or ugly' (Audiophile Audition, USA)

'She throws herself into it body and soul, giving the disc the frisson of a concert performance (without so much as a smudged note), the thrill of a first hearing' (International Piano)

'After a magnificent series of Bach recordings, star pianist Angela Hewitt now turns her attention to Beethoven's piano sonatas and if future releases are anything to go by this first disc, we are in for one of the most rewarding cycles of modern times. Her choice is well judged with Op 10 No 3 and the F minor Appassionata paired with the fiery Op 7, a lovely cocktail if there ever was one' (Classical.net)

'There's nothing in the packaging or labelling of this, her first Beethoven CD, that promises recordings of all the sonatas, but don't be too surprised if that's what we eventually get. The three here are so good that Hewitt's countless fans are unlikely to sit still for anything less than a complete cycle … once again she uses the superb sound of her instrument to create music of the greatest beauty' (Ottowa Citizen, Canada)

Piano Sonata in D major, Op 10 No 3
composer
1797/8; No 7; published September 1798, Vienna

Presto  [7'16]
Largo e mesto  [11'02]
Rondo: Allegro  [4'23]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Beethoven’s set of three sonatas that made up his Op 10 was nevertheless published in Vienna in September 1798 with the description ‘for the Harpsichord or for the Fortepiano’. No doubt this was just an attempt by the publisher to get the people who still owned a harpsichord to buy them, as it would take a large stretch of the imagination to think of them as harpsichord music. Czerny, who left us an invaluable document entitled On the Proper Performance of all Beethoven’s Works for the Piano Solo (now published by Universal and edited by Paul Badura-Skoda), called the Sonata in D major, Op 10 No 3 a ‘grand and significant’ piece, and indeed it is the first masterpiece in the cycle of sonatas. The opening Presto requires a meticulous attention to detail which is often neglected—beginning with the opening that is marked piano until the sforzando on the pause (there is no crescendo, however tempting it might be to insert one). As with so much early Beethoven, a bravura technique is required, but that alone is not enough. The magnificent slow movement, Largo e mesto, is a very intimate utterance. Sir Donald Tovey (whose edition of the Beethoven Sonatas is I think still one of the best), gives the following advice: ‘The details of phrasing and tone-colour have been provided with extraordinary precision by Beethoven himself; and if you simply make sure that you are playing what is written you will go far to realize the tragic power that makes this movement a landmark in musical history. Do not try to understand before you do as Beethoven bids. The people who “understand” great music beforehand will never see anything in it except a mirror of their own minds. The player who obeys orders faithfully will be constantly discovering their real meaning.’ I have quoted these words in full as I feel they are of the utmost importance.

Out of the despair of this movement, like the sun coming out from behind the clouds, arrives the Menuetto, taking us back to the major key. I feel it shouldn’t arrive smiling and insouciant, but rather be conscious of what has preceded it—at least until the Trio begins, where Beethoven’s humour takes over. How easy yet clever it is to present its subject in the left hand with two different articulations—once detached, once slurred.

The Rondo finale is unusual. No ‘big theme’ here; simply a rather insignificant motive of three rising notes upon which he constructs the whole movement. Czerny witnessed the fact that Beethoven often used such sparse material to improvise an entire piece. Its inventiveness, abrupt changes of mood, expressive pauses, and especially its capricious ending that dissolves into thin air make it a challenge to the performer. Tovey tells us that in some early editions, some ‘silly person’ inserted a crescendo at the end to make it, presumably, more effective.

from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2006

Other albums featuring this work
'Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1' (SACDA67518)
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1
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