Most critics did not like Barenboim’s recordings of Beethoven’s thirty two piano sonatas when they were first released, finding fault with the extreme tempos, but I find them spontaneous and scintillating. There’s nothing I like more in music than a bit of thoughtful provocation, and there’s plenty of that here.
I get a big thrill from these performances although they would not be my first choice. There are moments when they are not well played, the pianist walking some extreme edge, passages not well articulated, as if what Beethoven wrote on the page meant little to the pianist.
Yet, despite the wrong rhythms and the glossed-over details, these recordings are appealing, and I will gladly place them next to my treasured Brendel and Giles.
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