Sunday, 22 January 2017

Boris Giltburg in Beethoven

This would appear to be Boris Giltburg week in my home. Having commented on his Shostakovich CD, and earlier on his excellent Rachmaninov, I now have him playing Beethoven – Pathétique, Waldstein, and Op 111 (Naxos). On this latest CD, his Beethoven is somewhat in the sturdy Russian mould (I occasionally thought of the great Emil Gilels). The pianism is truly amazing and lovers of three star piano playing will have a field day.

Personally, I will not give this CD three stars. My preference in music of the classical period is for simplicity, and for artists such as Igor Levit, Maria Pires or Clara Haskil who give a sense almost of improvising as they play. No thought of improvisation with Giltburg; all is carefully planned and thought out (and then brilliantly executed). I recently had the same qualms about Alfred Brendel playing Schubert and Beethoven: all worked out far too carefully in advance, with little sense of spontaneity. I am being subjective here; lovers of fine piano playing and dynamic Beethoven need not hesitate, but when I wish to listen to Beethoven's last piano sonata, I'll gravitate to Igor Levit.

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