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CD: Paraty

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Rondos: C, Op. 51/1 (1796) [5:05]; G, Op. 51/2 (1801) [8:43]; B flat, Kinsky-Hahn Anh.6. Andante favori in F, WoO57 (1803/4) [7:22]; Seven Bagatelles, Op. 33 (1802) [21:24]; Alla ingharese quasi un Capriccio in G, Op. 129 (1795/8) [7:25]
Natalia Valentin (fortepiano)
rec. Varallo Sesia, Italy, April 2009. DDD
PARATY 109.104 [56:11]
Experience Classicsonline

The Venezuelan-trained keyboardist Natalia Valentin moved to Paris to continue her piano studies in 1998 with fortepiano. She plays with consummate ease and a true sense of Beethovenian style. She plays an eighteenth century instrument of unknown maker, superbly restored by Christopher Clarke and magnificently recorded by Alessandra Galleron; Galleron acts as both producer and engineer.

The C-major Rondo was written in 1796. It is a most gentle piece and Valentin plays it charmingly. Sviatoslav Richter included this piece in his repertoire, by the way, and Moiseiwitch recorded it. Its Op. 51 companion, the slightly longer G-major Rondo, perhaps aims at greater depths, profundities balanced by the lighter E-major contrasting section. Valentin plays with a light touch, somehow successfully negotiating the tightrope of simplicity of expression masking much deeper concerns. Much more famous than either of these is the Andante favori. Valentin gives a most searching account before embarking on the far shallower Rondo in B flat, Anh. 6. Attributed to both Kozeluch and Mozart at one time or another, this latter piece is a charmer whose use of quasi-tremolando octaves is noteworthy.

The Bagatelles, Op. 33 are charming miniatures. Here, though, each is a masterpiece and Valentin honours this with a performance of expressive depth as well as panache and wit. The second, in particular, finds her particularly attuned to Beethoven’s gruff humour, while the delicacy of the fourth is most affecting. The sound of her instrument seems particularly apt for the cheeky fifth Bagatelle. And how magnificently Valentin honours the instruction “Con una certa espressione parlante” (with a kind of speaking voice).

Finally we hear the “Rage over a lost penny”. It closes this recital with vital charm but also reveals playing of some virtuosity. Valentin is clearly an important fortepianist.

In the Bagatelles and the first Rondo, Valentin comes into competition with Brendel (Philips 456 031-2) and it is testimony to her excellence that she emerges as an alternative rather than a second-best. Schnabel, too, recorded an impressive Op. 33 set. The instruments used are different. Valentin is a player of huge talent and clearly has a real affinity for Beethoven.

It is good to welcome a disc from this label: Ivan Ilic’s Debussy disc (108.105) left me totally cold when I heard it some time ago. Valentin’s excellent website includes a list of her activities, none of which seem to occur in the UK. A shame, as it would be wonderful to hear this artist in person.

Colin Clarke




















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