Album Review Jonathan Biss

Jonathan Biss
Sinfini Music

The clever programming of Jonathan Biss’s fourth volume in his ongoing cycle of all Beethoven's 32 Sonatas begins with the very first of these; it shares its key (F minor) with the masterpiece that closes the disc, the mighty ‘Appassionata’ (No.23), emphasising the extraordinary journey Beethoven made in the eight years that separate the two.                                                                              

After the charming G major Sonata, Op.49 No.1, the ‘Appassionata’ takes us into a different – and, indeed, unique – world. Biss is superb: the clarity of phrasing and voices, his grasp of structure and judicious tempi choices are perfectly matched to the music’s narrative, undermined only in the presto final page where he resorts to the safety net of the studio (unlike, say, Richter in 1960 – quite thrilling). Still, with first-class recorded sound and the pianist’s own excellent booklet, that’s hardly enough to detract from a firm recommendation.

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