Cristian Sandrin – Beethoven Trilogy – the birth of a great artist
Op.109: There was a chiselled beauty to the sound that flowed so naturally as it was allowed to sing due to an extraordinary sense of balance and above all a scrupulous attention to Beethoven’s very precise indications in the score. Beethoven’s own pedal mark that links the first and second movement without a break- so often overlooked as the meaning of Beethoven’s pedal markings are dismissed by lesser mortals! There was a string quartet texture to the last movement and a striking clarity to the turn so often thrown off as an aside but here given a real meaning. There was a strikingly beautiful luminosity to the first variation where the deep bass notes were the very anchor of a variation that can often sound slip into waltz time! There was absolute control of texture in the second variation with no accommodating ritardando so there was no loss of rhythmic energy even in the teneramente contrasting episodes .The Allegro vivace third variation was like a volcano unleashed with superlative precision and a rhythmic drive I have only ever heard from Serkin .The fourth variation was like a ray of sunlight suddenly appearing on the horizon only slightly missing the off beat sforzandi and Beethoven’s own pedal indication in the long tremolando. It was at the end of this variation that I felt ended rather too abruptly to contrast with the authoritarian fugato that follows. The end of the fugato too could anticipate the tempo prima of the final extraordinary sixth variation, The same for the return of the theme where the etherial trills should dissolve more naturally into the opening theme almost like the opening of a magic door where an imperceptible gasp of astonishment could recreate this magic moment.Beethoven had marked after all one long pedal from the beautifully placed bass E that becomes the anchor for the first note of the return of the theme.
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