Edinburgh International Festival music review: Rudolf Buchbinder: Beethoven 9, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Kettle.
To say Rudolf Buchbinder’s EIF Beethoven piano sonata cycle has raised a few eyebrows would be an understatement. So the stakes were high for his concluding recital in the series, and a back-to-back offering of the composer’s final three sonatas – sublime, visionary works that didn’t look like they’d necessarily be an ideal match for the heavy, determined playing he’d displayed elsewhere.
But, as previously, if we’d been wondering what all the fuss was about, Buchbinder displayed flashes of uncanny inspiration that showed what a truly great figure he could be – in among some pretty workaday playing. He had a lighter touch right from the start of Op 109, with a lovely sense of fantasy in the opening movement and a gentle sparkle to the final movement’s variations, his melodies singing with appropriate elegance. He was unafraid to be simple in Op 110, shaping the first movement’s scalic melodies eloquently, and volatile in the second movement’s unpredictable rhythms.
There was a sense of the sublime in those first two sonatas. And his Op 111 was very much a work of two halves. His first movement was harsh and determined, but his slow second movement was simply too emphatic to balance it properly, with hammer blows instead of ringing melody. He was cussedly wilful – and frustratingly erratic – right to the very end.
Published in The Scotsman on 28 August 2015
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