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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1 / Konstantin Scherbakov

Release Date: 01/03/2020
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30141
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven Performer:  Konstantin Scherbakov Number of Discs: 1

For Beethovenís 250th anniversary, Steinway & Sons releases Beethovenís complete Piano Sonatas played by renowned virtuoso, Konstantin Scherbakov. Released chronologically as they were composed, Volume 1 includes the Op. 2 sonatas which Beethoven dedicated to Haydn.

R E V I E W S:

The Steinway & Sons label weighs in for Beethovenís 250th anniversary year, launching a sonata cycle featuring pianist Konstantin Scherbakov. Each volume will be released via download and streaming platforms only. Once the cycle reaches completion, it will be released as a physical CD boxed set. Pending the latter, I draw your attention to the first installment.

Scherbakov distinguishes himself for incisive finger work,
Read more sophisticated timing, and astute attention to the composerís volatile dynamics and accents. This helps him create forward impetus and a feeling of animation, even when tempos are somewhat slower than expected, such as in Sonata No. 1ís opening Allegro and Menuetto, or in No. 3ís Scherzo. What is more, Scherbakov achieves a high level of control and tonal variety while employing the sustain pedal discreetly. Listen to the way the First sonata Prestissimoís relentless left-hand triplets take surging wing through finger skill and hand balance alone. Likewise, by not pressing No. 3ís Allegro assai, Scherbakovís right-hand runs sparkle all the more, with impressive definition and point.

All three sonatas receive noteworthy readings, but the A major communicates the strongest individual profile on the performerís part. The terse first-movement exposition motives, for example, constantly surprise and delight the ear, seemingly occupying distinct dynamic levels and timbres. Scherbakov follows a steady course throughout the Largo appassionato, letting the musicís poignant lyricism and classical reserve speak on its own behalf. The pianist feels the Gracioso finale in a flexible two beats to the bar, and happily avoids most pianistsí annoying habit of taking the main themeís last three notes on a swan dive. Needless to say, I look forward to following Scherbakovís Beethoven cycle as it progresses.

-- Jed Distler,
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