The sixth volume of Angela Hewitt’s Beethoven piano sonata cycle is a delight from beginning to end. Lightness and grace characterise the early sonatas Op 14 No 1, and Op 49 Nos 1 and 2 (the numbering is deceptive; Op 49 date from the mid-1790s), Hewitt’s readings uncomplicated but delicately shaped. Op 31 No 1 is more substantial but just as light in spirit, and Hewitt brings out all the humour, her phrasing adventurous and teasingly unpredictable. The ‘Les Adieux’ continues the mood, a little darker but just a buoyant. As ever, Hewitt performs on a Fazioli piano, its crisp textures ideally responsive to her technique. Recorded sound is warm but detailed. A few climaxes in the early sonatas sound harsh, though it is difficult to say why. The engineering may be to blame, but more likely Hewitt herself is making a point: early Beethoven may sound genteel, but it’s not background music.