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Burstein's Beethoven performances were deeply personal responses to the music's flaming, stream of consciousness flow of inspiration. In many ways Burstein is as much an original as Beethoven! His performances were never superficial traversals of the notated scores. Mere reverential homage to Beethoven is not what Burstein's artistry is about. The ecstatic poetry that Burstein lavished on the opening Andante of the Sonata quasi una fantasia in E flat Op 27 No 1 seemed to come from some higher domain. The flaming impetuosity of the succeeding Allegro had an almost improvisatory quality -- the meeting of two uncompromising geniuses. Burstein's exquisitely subtle inflection of the heavenly theme of the Adagio con espressione brought forth the pathos of the music's subtext. The fiery brilliance and absolute clarity of the concluding Allegro vivace-Presto finale were the exuberant apotheosis of a brilliant performance. Every inner voice and pianistic detail was perfectly gauged and beautifully delineated. A visionary interpretation of one of Beethoven's greatest sonatas!

The Piano Sonata No 1 in F minor Op 2 No 1 is dedicated to Franz Josef Haydn; yet this early work is not a mere emulation of the master. The striking thematic material and subtle turns of melodic phrase mark this score as the work of a composer with an original voice. The elegance and passion that Burstein found in the first movement Allegro were the essence of the composer's emerging Romantic spirit. There was poetry and soaring lyrical line in his incredibly beautiful version of the Adagio. The sheer personality and musical delicacy that Burstein brought to the Allegretto section of the Menuetto held his audience mesmerized. The dazzling vivacity of the final Prestissimo capped a truly remarkable performance. Burstein captured every subtle variation of the melodic line with scintillating brio and vivacity.

The familiar Sonata quasi una fantasia in C sharp minor Op 27 No 2 (Moonlight) was like freshly minted gold in Burstein's hands. The dreamy, Chopinesque poetry of the Adagio sostenuto was exquisitely molded. Burstein's ethereal evocation of this nocturnal utterance was so beautiful that time seemed to stop. Here was music making that approached sublimity! How wonderful to hear every note of the Allegretto articulated with such accuracy and grace! There was an almost Mendelssohnian lightness in Burstein's sensitive performance. The sheer tempestuousness with which Burstein attacked the furious cascade of notes in the Presto agitato brought Beethoven's music right into the 21st century. Instead of the usual delicately manicured rendition, Burstein evoked Beethoven the Titan! The music sounded incredibly original and contemporary. A remarkable performance that brought new life to one of the chestnuts of the keyboard repertoire!

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Copyright © 19 December 2004 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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