EIF music review: Rudolf Buchbinder: Beethoven Sonatas – Concert 5
EIF music review: Rudolf Buchbinder: Beethoven Sonatas – Concert 5

Edinburgh International Festival music review: Rudolf Buchbinder: Beethoven Sonatas – Concert 5, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Kettle ★★★ Wilful doesn’t even come close. There was so much that was downright bizarre about the fifth installment in Rudolf Buchbinder’s complete traversal of the Beethoven piano sonatas that it’s hard to know where to start. It …

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Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh International Festival music review: Rudolf Buchbinder: Beethoven Sonatas – Concert 5, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Kettle

★★★

Wilful doesn’t even come close. There was so much that was downright bizarre about the fifth installment in Rudolf Buchbinder’s complete traversal of the Beethoven piano sonatas that it’s hard to know where to start.

It was a likeable enough programme – none of the very popular sonatas, but nicely spread across the composer’s early, middle and late periods. But Buchbinder, right, attacked all four of the works with a similarly heavy, aggressive touch, hammering out melodies rather than shaping them, disconcertingly bringing an inner part suddenly to the fore seemingly when the whim took him, and with tempos so unstable that faster passages threatened to tumble into chaos.

He had two sonatas – Op. 54 in F and Op. 101 in A – that seem to look beyond their mere notes to a kind of transcendent simplicity, but he dispatched both with a matter-of-factness bordering on the offhand.

And then came the encore – the final movement of the Moonlight Sonata. And he was suddenly a different pianist.

It was fiery, propulsive, alive with detail, with runs up and down the keyboard shaped with dramatic urgency and full of meaning. What to make of such an obdurate, unpredictable figure? Utterly mystifying.

Playfair Library

Published in The Scotsman on 15 August 2015

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