Beethoven: Piano Sonatas 5, 11, 12 and 26


Piano Sonatas 5, 11, 12 and 26

Jonathan Biss


It used to be that the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas were a musical summit, to be recorded only by the most experienced interpreters. The world has moved on: recordings are no longer seen as a final statement but as a moment in time.

Jonathan Biss, a younger-generation American with a rising reputation, makes a sensible start to his complete cycle: the four works here are representative of Beethoven’s journey but do not include the popular sonatas that invite comparisons with other versions. Biss takes a middle-of-the-road view – no overly prim classicism, no romantic waywardness. He handles the slow music of Sonatas 5 and 26 thoughtfully, and the latter’s lively finale is suitably inspiring.

Elsewhere there is a want of personality: the outer movements of Sonata No 11, for example, sound prosaic.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.