Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Piano Sonata No 31 in A Flat, Op. 110; Piano Sonata No 29 in B Flat, Op.106, 'Hammerklavier'.
Danzas Argentinas Op. 2

Blanca Uribe (piano)
AmazonUS $10.49

The Colombian-born pianist, Blanca Uribe, is both an experienced concert artist and a teacher: she has been a professor at Vassar College for over 30 years. On the evidence of this CD she is a fine and thoughtful pianist. According to the liner notes, she has a particular affinity with the works of Beethoven and on this disc she offers performances of two of his most challenging late sonatas.

The helpful liner notes point out the contrasts between the two sonatas with the thematic material of Op.110 described as "vocal". This seems to suit Uribe's style well. She brings grace and poise to the first movement. Perhaps she does not have quite the breadth of, say Solomon but her approach is cooler (and that is not meant pejoratively). In her hands the third movement Adagio is calmly poetic and the fugal finale has admirable clarity.

In the 'Hammerklavier' the drama of the first movement is well projected although the performance does not have quite the drive of Brendel's 1995 recording. In his classic 1952 account Solomon draws out the Adagio to an astonishing (and mesmerising) 22'20. Uribe, wisely, does not attempt such an approach. Her beautifully poised performance lasts a "mere" 16'44 and while not perhaps as searching as Brendel here she is controlled and fully convincing. The short, dramatic Largo is well handled, with a good sense of suspense (could this section not have been separately tracked?) The tumultuous fugal finale rounds off the performance very satisfyingly.

At first sight the Ginastera pieces may seem an odd choice to fill the disc. However, as the CD is meant to showcase Ms Uribe's pianism their inclusion is appropriate since it is clear from her biographical details that she has a great degree of experience in the Spanish and Latin American repertoire. The three short Danzas, which were new to me, date from 1937 and last about 8 minutes. They comprise a nimble 'Dance of the Old Cowherd'; 'Dance of the Graceful Young Girl' which, in Uribe's hands sways seductively, building to a passionate, central climax; and an obsessively rhythmic 'Dance of the Shrewd, Suspicious Gaucho' which provides an exciting conclusion to the disc. Deliberately, I listened to the Danzas between the two Beethoven works and found them a refreshing contrast.

In summary, a most enjoyable Beethoven disc with the Ginastera dances proving a surprising but welcome bonus.

John Quinn

A most enjoyable Beethoven disc with the Ginastera dances proving a surprising but welcome bonus.

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