Edinburgh International Festival music review: Rudolf Buchbinder: Beethoven 8, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Susan Nickalls.
With the end of Rudolf Buchbinder’s Beethoven cycle now in sight, it would have been nice to feel a cumulative sense of wonder instead of overwhelming relief.
Listening to him, as he sprints through these masterpieces with little regard for phrasing or even, at times, the written rests, has been painful and exhausting.
Beethoven’s broody and mysterious Sonata in F minor Op 57 Appassionata is one of the most seductive and emotionally charged pieces written for piano. On the Buchbinder rollercoaster it is impossible to relax as he steamrollers the double-dotted notes in the andante variations and all but annihilates the frisky dialogue between the skittish hemi-semiquavers in the rhythmical meltdown of the final prestissimo.
By comparison, the G minor and G major sonatas of Op 49 are lightweight warm-ups for young pianists and Buchbinder rather treats them as such; flatlining the dynamics and making them sound ordinary, which they are not.
Buchbinder’s more restrained approach in Sonata in B flat Major Op 22 at last made it possible to savour intricate details such as the ringing thirds of the opening allegro and the mellow bass notes in the contrapuntal sections of the rondo. He should let Beethoven speak more often.
Published in The Scotsman on 26 August 2015
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