Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
The Piano Sonatas Volume 2

Piano Sonata No 12 in A flat Op. 26 (1800-01)
Piano Sonata No 13 in E flat Op. 27 No 1 (1800-01)
Piano Sonata No 15 in D major Op. 28 Pastoral (1801)
Sergio Fiorentino (piano)
Recorded in Hornsey Town Hall (Op. 26 and 27/1 in January 1961) and Guildford Town Hall (Op. 28 in February 1966)


There are now six volumes of Sergio Fiorentino’s Beethoven Sonatas in Concert Artist/Fidelio’s catalogue. Those in this, the second volume, cover the years 1961-66 and feature much distinguished playing, with considerable seriousness and characterisation as well as rhythmic acuity. In the A flat Sonata, Op. 26 for example Fiorentino vests the opening Andante con variazioni with simplicity whilst not being afraid to exploit the tied bass in the variational section to inflect a greater and increasing sense of depth. It is quite possible to imagine pianists who treat the following Scherzo as an opportunity for fingerwork display but not Fiorentino. True he is propulsive but he is always clear; yes, there is animation and drive but equally he extracts real lyrical charm from the trio and there is no hardening of tone (it remains perfectly rounded). Propulsion is never at the expense of a just tempo. In the Funeral March on the Death of a Hero Fiorentino is careful to keep the death rhythm in the left hand coursing through the length of the movement and in the finale, a brisk Allegro, he is delightfully forthright.

The E flat sonata, an opus companion of the Moonlight, illustrates how perceptively Fiorentino uses internal contrastive material to propel a movement. The lullaby nature of the initial material and the depth of left hand sonority he extracts is well contrasted with the ensuing Allegro. Similarly whilst he is frequently eruptive and tempestuous in the Allegro molto e vivace this never becomes over-scaled playing. The little Andante seems in his hands almost to play itself, so self-effacingly right does his approach appear, whilst in the finale Fiorentino’s voicings are apt and alert and well-balanced, the clarity of his fingerwork notable, his instinct for driving and purposeful direction. He can also bring out the delicate nostalgia that often lurks within this work with felicitous imagination. The Pastoral, the D major is another fine reading. He brings out the ceaseless almost informal flux of the opening Allegro; themes emerge with naturalism and Fiorentino studiously reduces his dynamics, terracing them with skill, from 5.40. In the Andante the ostinati are actively propelled, motifs delineated with care, bass and treble sonorities maintained. His right hand is full of suggestive clarity. The rhythmic virility of the Scherzo is matched by the finale, which manages to remain passionate, but at a reasonable tempo still reflectively charming. He catches its essence with real acumen and insight.

These are strong and persuasive performances, reflecting Fiorentino’s laudable qualities as a Beethovenian. The world hardly lacks for sonata recitals or cycles of the 32 (Fiorentino never got around to recording them all for Concert Artist/Fidelio) but this is nevertheless, and irrespective of other considerations, a notable disc.

Jonathan Woolf


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