BEETHOVEN: Early Vienna Sonatas = Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 2. No. 1; Sonata in A Major, Op. 2, No. 2; Sonata No. 3 in C Major, Op. 2, No. 3; Sonata No. 19 in Minor; Sonata No. 20 in Major – Ronald Brautigan, fortepiano – BIS

by | Nov 15, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

BEETHOVEN: Early Vienna Sonatas = Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op.
2. No. 1; Sonata in A Major, Op. 2, No. 2; Sonata No. 3 in C Major, Op.
2, No. 3; Sonata No. 19 in Minor, Op. 49. No. 1; Sonata No. 20 in
Major, Op. 49, No. 2
– Ronald Brautigan, fortepiano – BIS Multichannel SACD 1363,  81:04 ****:

Ronald Brautigan is a pupil of both John Bingham and Rudolf Serkin, and
he seems intent to record the complete Beethoven sonata cycle on Paul
McNulty reconstruction of an 1802 Walther & Sohn. Brautigan does
not take the written repeats at the movement ends, a practice Brautigan
feels is anachronistic, especially as the Beethoven development
sections made them superfluous. Between the light action of the
fortepiano and the relative brevity of the movements, several of the
early Beethoven sonatas, like the 1796 F Minor, assume proportions more
appropriate to the sonatina, on the same scale as the two 1805 Op. 49
pieces. The articulation in fast passagework is clean and brisk, the
ornaments carefully etched, the melodic lines spun out in bravura
fashion.

The C Major Sonata, from its girth and its power to assemble large
forms from otherwise inconsequential motifs, stands out, even through
the thinner acoustics of the fortepiano. Those who favor the fortepiano
medium as the more authentic style of performing early Beethoven will
doubtless praise the clarity of the fugal sections, the clean
articulation of the left hand filigree. The little G Major Sonata which
ends the disc has the lovely Tempo di Menuetto Beethoven employed in
his popular Septet, Op. 20, a vigorous jaunt with which to conclude an
intelligent and sober approach to the sound-ethos of the period. [And
very realistically preserved in surround sound, making the early
instrument sound not nearly as tinkly as via just two-channel
reproduction…Ed.]

–Gary Lemco

Related Reviews