Beethoven: Last Three Sonatas - Pizarro - International Record Review

Pianist Artur Pizarro commands his well-schooled fingers to the point where they can do anything their master requires of them. Not surprisingly, then, he dispatches the numerous technical challenges of Beethoven's last three sonatas with all the tonal solidity, control and professional finish we've come to take for granted in a modern recording.

Here he brings a luminous tonal variety to the long legato lines in Op. 109's opening movement and plays that third movement theme at a real Andante (as opposed to the Adagio many pianists make it out to be), adjusting the balances within chords like a highly attuned string quartet. His assertive, straighforward trajectory in the sixth variation rightly observes the composer's tempo prima del tema, directive, yet the chains of trills make a chilly, unrelenting impression, as opposed to the cumulative majesty pianists like Claudio Arrau, Richard Goode, Artur Schnabel and, more recently, Freddy Kempf attain through rhetorical inflexion and breathing room. One can also argue that Pizarro's brusque and brisk dispatch of the central Prestissimo goes faster than the ear can cogently register the swirling lines and mysterious pauses. In No. 32's Arietta Pizarro's control and efficiency technically impress, as well as his perfectly gauged tempo relationships in the Arietta. Pizarro fares best in Op. 110's lyrical, introspective sections, taking the first movements's cantabile marking fully to heart and singing out the Adagio in broad, flexible arcs.

While this disc can be played on either a conventional or SACD player, the multi-channel, surround-sound format boasts greater warmth and sonic presence.

International Record Review