Not quite 50 years since I first heard a Beethoven sonata. In all this time I have never had such a powerful, visceral, response to a recording. Gulda’s tempo is on the quicker side. Here the issue is between two approaches. (1)”I have brilliant technique, I’ll translate the music in these terms”. Or (2) Beethoven requires this intensity and tempo. I have the necessary technical skill. So lets deploy it.” Gulda is unquestionably in the second category. Those in the first…You know who you are!
The most striking thing, consistently throughout the cycle, is the unselfconscious, almost “simple” or naive playing on the Steinway. It felt, at times, as though I had never heard these sonatas before. I found myself thinking the most absurd thought, “This is how Beethoven would want it played.” As I say, absurd. Nevertheless….That was the feeling… Point is the impression was one of absolute authenticity and truth to the score. And Beethoven’s vision… And a revalation, after so many years of listening to these works…
Over fifty years I’ve heard and collected several sets of the Beethoven sonatas. Rubinstein, the wonderful Poetical Solomon, some Intense Backhaus, Grand Arrau, Precise Pollini. And others. Each has brought great pleasure and insight into these wonderful sonatas. None, ever, has had this intense an impact, on first hearing.
Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Friedrich Gulda
Number of discs: 11
DR-Analysis: DR 12
Size: 11.86 GB