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<<  -- 2 --  David Wilkins    POWER AND VIRTUOSITY

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The performances on the remainder of the disc are far from insignificant adjuncts. In the opus 54 sonata, there might be a degree too much antagonism in the Menuetto movement -- but, then again, this isn't Haydn! [listen -- track 4, 4:07-4:47].

The opus 79 (Alla 'Tedesca') has plenty of joy in the upbeats of the Presto but the heaviness of tone can become a touch unrelenting. The necessary Schubertian tread is, however, very much in place in the Andante and the simple enthusiasm of the Vivace finale is undeniably infectious [listen -- track 8, 1:13-1:59]. The early opus 7 sonata, seemingly tagged-on to the end of the disc, is as lovely in musical content and pleasure in performance as anything else. The exploratory, foreshadowing Largo is played in the kind of enclosed world of 'Beethovenianism' (please forgive me the neologism!) that reminds me of Glenn Gould's relationship with Bach.

In summary, I might find ample reasons for preferring Wilhelm Kempff, Barenboim, Pletnev, Gilels or Richard Goode here, there or overall but this is a powerful (in every sense) take on these endlessly rewarding works and keeps Kovacevich in the pantheon of current Beethoven interpreters.

Copyright © 29 April 2001 David Wilkins, Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK

 

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