BEETHOVEN: Complete Piano Sonatas, Vol. 3 – Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor Op. 2/1, Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major Op. 2/2, Piano Sonata No. 3 in C major Op. 2/3 – Igor Tchetuev, p. – Caro Mitis multichannel SACD 3CM 0062007 ***** [Distr. by Harmonia mundi]:
Beethoven wrote these sonatas around 1794 to 1795 and they were published by Artaria in 1796. They were first performed in 1795 at Count Lichnowsky’s salon, the Count being both a friend and benefactor of the composer, at a gala evening welcoming Josef Haydn back from his hugely successful London tour. The sonatas were later dedicated, on publication, to the older composer.
The sonatas are constructed in strict classical form, in four movements, and, as Beethoven said later, have enough material in them for twenty works. The first’s first movement has an example of the splendidly named “Mannheim rocket”, rapidly ascending broken chords starting from low down in the bass and going on up to the top of the treble. Its extensive prestissimo last movement is demanding of the player’s fluency in passage work. The second and third sonatas are more substantial, both having delightful scherzi, and first movements which can stand alone as concert allegros.
Igor Tchetuev plays a keyboard far removed from one from the time of Beethoven, a very fine sounding Fazioli, beautifully prepared for this recording. He approaches these works with discipline and humour, the quicker movements having plenty of fizz. Slow movements are made even more arresting by the Fazioli’s tone. Angela Hewitt, also playing a Fazioli in Op.2/3 on Hyperion SACDA 67605, is more Haydnesque, and less febrile in approach than Tchetuev or, especially, Michael Korstick, on an Oehms SACD 0615. However, Tchetuev’s playing is muscular where needed, and he doesn’t make over-interpreted points which become irritating on repeated listening.
Caro Mitis has included a high quality booklet complete with excellent essay by Anna Andrushkevich. The recording quality is exemplary in all formats, the surround program in particular shining in its naturalness – unsurprising really as this is a Polyhymnia production.
Tchetuev’s beautifully prepared, thoughtful and elegant cycle is very well worth investigating and I look forward not only to the next volume, but the completion of this project.
— Peter Joelson