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Jonathan Biss plays Beethoven with elegance and panache

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JONATHAN BISS

Beethoven Piano Sonatas Vol 5: Nos 3, 25, 27 & 28

JB Recordings MM16030

4 stars

This is volume five in what will be the complete Beethoven sonatas from American pianist Jonathan Biss. He is up against a long list of recent Beethoven sonata series recordings by fellow pianists of the same age (François-Frédéric Guy springs to mind), but he need not worry he’ll be overlooked. I am happy to report that Biss can play Beethoven without sounding like Chopin in the slow movement of No 25, or like a bashy Rachmaninov in the fast middle movement of No 28. He is restrained and Classical in his fine account of the early No 3 – probably the best on this release, and he never turns the last movement of No 27 into Debussy style. Biss plays Beethoven with intelligence and panache. If his tempo choices raise a few questions, like the ultra-fast opening of No 25, his elegant restraint makes amends to this. Good booklet notes from the pianist, and fine piano sound.

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