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BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonatas Nos. 8, 14 and 21 (Moiseiwitsch, Vol. 9) (1927-1950)

Composer(s):Beethoven, Ludwig vanTausig, CarlWeber, Carl Maria von
Artist(s) Moiseiwitsch, Benno, piano
Period(s) Classical (1750-1830)Romantic
Genre Classical Music
Category Instrumental
Catalogue 8.111115
Label Naxos Historical
Quality   320kbps

Born in Odessa, ‘the cradle of Russian pianism’ in 1890, Benno Moiseiwitsch was one of the great pianists of the twentieth century. Volume 9 of the Naxos Moiseiwitsch Edition features a superlative reading of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, of which the critic of The Gramophone wrote: ‘Moiseiwitsch has surely never made such a good recording as this’. The 1941 recording of the ‘Pathétique’ Sonata is also exceptionally fine, with Moiseiwitsch’s full tone at the beginning faithfully captured by the engineers. The tempo of the Allegro di molto e con brio is urgent and fast, while the pianist’s sublime tonal qualities can be heard to full advantage in the Adagio.


Review By Bryce Morrison,Gramophone,November 2006

After an alarmingly long delay Naxos's "Great Pianists - Mosieiwitch" continues with Vol 9. So here, thankfully, is an incomparable pianist admired this side of idolatry by, among others, Rachmaninov and, later, Bolet in Beethoven. Here, in Beethoven, his performances sweeping all earnestness and solemnity to the winds with a debonair, scintillating ease and elegance. Rarely can the term "lightweight" have come to seem such a super-fine virtue in Beethoven, an approach as far from the Schnabel tradition as possible. Moiseiwitsch was a virtuoso in the most aristocratic sense, incomparably fleet and vivacious in the Path�tique's Allegro di molto con brio, coolly without falseness or special pleading in the Adagio, sleek and feline in the finale. He eases his way into the

True, there are many endearingly old-fashioned touches - a luxuriant change of tempo for the second subject, the odd unmarked arpeggiation for added spice - but everything is as true as it is personal. The encores by Beethoven, including the composer's elaborate first thoughts for the Waldstein's slow movement, Scarlatti-Tausig and Weber (has anyone ever played the Moto perpetuo from the C major Sonata with such nonchalant grace and brilliance or altered the final page so mischievously?) are all vintage.

Such playing is beyond price and to have Moiseiwitsch's Chopin and, indeed, everything else on Naxos's super-bargain price would be musical glory indeed. The sound of the recordings has come up excellently and this issue is another indelible reminder of a sadly far gone age.



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