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Appassionata - Beethoven / Katie Mahan

Release Date: 05/01/2020
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30161
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven Performer:  Katie Mahan Number of Discs: 1

Pianist Katie Mahan presents a program which transports the listener into the inner world of Ludwig van Beethoven. Traveling from his final work for piano backwards to the beloved Appassionata sonata, we hear the expression of his emotions and passions, and witness his transformation as an artist and a man.

R E V I E W S:

Pianist Katie Mahan is ideally suited to the Steinway & Sons label roster, for her percussive, highly expressive style perfectly fits the instruments the label's releases are designed to showcase. It is curious that the program of Appassionata is reverse chronological, forcing Mahan in her annotations to go through some contorted prose, but set that aside, and the effect is novel. The
Read more giant variation set in the Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109, conventionally comes at the end of Beethoven sonata programs, but here, with a lyrical, rather mystical performance from Mahan, it is introductory to the Piano Sonata No. 23 in F sharp minor, Op. 57 ("Appassionata"). The curtain raiser is the set of six Bagatelles, Op. 126, Beethoven's final works for piano, which are given a detailed, deliberate performance that outshines the overly speedy takes that seem to have become the norm. The "Appassionata" is the best of all: Mahan gives it a sweeping yet inward performance that will make listeners remember why they began to love Beethoven in the first place. A superb exemplification of Steinway's ideals of old-school pianism.

-- AllMusic Guide

"In this year of commemoration of the 250 years of the master of Bonn, [Katie Mahan] explains that she has chosen a journey through Beethoven's inner world: As we travel from his latest piano work to the beloved sonata Appassionata , we hear the expression of his emotions and passions, and witness his transformation as an artist and as a man. In the twenty years between the Bagatelles and the Appassionata, we feel anger turning to humility and fear to serenity. Further, Katie Mahan specifies that, for her,these works embody the essence of Beethoven's life journey. They do not speak only of the turmoil that existed in his inner world but also of the acceptance in the prophecy of his vision of the future.

...It is with the last of the three collections of Bagatelles that this recital opens. Written in 1823/24, Beethoven considered these six pieces to be a “cycle” of miniatures; the richness of the colors and the perfection of tone compete with the structural clarity. We thus go from lyricism to capricious tone, from ornamentation to energy, from delicacy to expressiveness. Katie Mahan shows a lot of sensitivity there, she brings them a density which nourishes intimacy but also charm and depth. She then launches into Sonata no 30 op. 109 with frankness and sobriety, but with a living sense of the rhythms that she does not rush, but lets unfold. The initial Vivace contains a part of a dream that Katie Mahan extends into diction with a declamatory climate before giving to the Prestissimoa proud and energetic character. As Beethoven himself wished, the Andante is very singing and Katie Mahan takes her time again, but not too slowly, to let the different indications (cantabile, temeramente, piacevole ) develop into various expressions. It is in Opus 57, Sonata no 23 published in 1807, that the pianist gives free rein to her temperament, by delivering a committed testimony which seduces the listener with a euphoric serenity that will continue to grow. The tempo is always ample, sometimes stretched, it is a constant; the technique details the timbres with clarity and flexibility, it confers on the Allegro assai a space of combined mystery and tension which are of the order of passion. With a lot of frankness and a great sense of momentum - and we remember that Gershwin's ardor inhabits her - Katie Mahan adopts a conception that suits her perfectly: a sense of drama mixed with nobility of tone. The Andante which follows emphasizes restraint without thickening the line, the capacity for meditation and solemnity. In the Allegro ma non troppo final, the pianist abandons herself with pleasure in this race to the abyss, with great tormented strength.

This CD risks going unnoticed in the abundance (the plethora!) Of engravings from the 250 years... It would be wrong, however, to miss these three scores played by Katie Mahan, who selected them for the sake of sharing the respect she feels for Beethoven along this "backward journey". This is well served by the depth of sound of a round and generous Steinway, on loan from the Steinway House in Berlin, for this recording made in the historic Meistersaal."

-- Jean Lacroix, Crescendo [Originally in French]

"Katie Mahan presents an astonishingly profound album that illustrates her personal view of the big jubilee of the year and brings out some exciting facets on an emotional level represent a worthwhile addition to the popular image of Beethoven."

-- The New Listener [Originally in German]


Katie Mahan's extensive discography includes solo repertoire from Mozart to Bernstein. Her eleventh album Classical Gershwin, a CD + DVD set which includes an innovative music video of Gershwin’s beloved Rhapsody in Blue, was released on the STEINWAY & SONS label in November 2019.

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