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 4

Piano Sonata No 26 in E flat Op. 81a Les Adieux (1809-10)
Piano Sonata No 27 in E minor Op. 90 (1814)
Piano Sonata No 28 in A major Op. 101 (1816)
Piano Sonata No 30 in E major Op. 109 (1820)
Sergio Fiorentino (piano)
Recorded: Guildford Town Hall (Op. 26 February 1966), Hornsey Town Hall (Op. 27 May 1960), Conway Hall (Op. 28 July 1959) and Greenwich Borough Hall (Op. 109 July 1963)


The fourth of Sergio Fiorentino’s six volume part-complete Beethoven cycle covers Nos. 26-30, that is, Opp. 81a (Les Adieux), 90, 101 and 109. It thus takes him to the last Sonatas but like Solomon slightly before him the cycle was never to be completed. Concert Artist/Fidelio have, at last counting, issued about seventeen sonatas and they demonstrate his commanding profile in the works, unfettered by gimmick or caprice, only occasionally lessening the rhythmic plasticity that so much informs his best playing.

Fiorentino gives judicious weight to the leave-taking of the E flat, the skipping runs of the Allegro section splendidly executed and characterised. He alludes to but doesn’t overstress those little troubling insistencies of line here. One thing remaining true about Fiorentino, no matter what the debate surrounding him, is his sustaining of a slow tempo; here he vests the Abwesenheit with a certain questing nobility and similarly in the Wiedersehen his elative freedom comes always with fluent flexibility, well contoured pedalling, not over fleet and with plenty of architecturally cogent room at the conclusion for a moment of generously grateful reflection. The little two-movement E minor is taken at a good tempo, the first movement enshrined in Fiorentino’s hands with incipient melancholy and the final movement summoning up reserves of colour and tonal purity in moments of almost Schubertian cantabile. His approach to Op. 101 is similarly convincing, Fiorentino preserving a flowing tempo for the opening movement imbued with romanticism and is rhythmically alive to the march of the second. In the final movement, which he takes quite slowly, he evokes a spirit of radiance, his articulation of optimum clarity, and the manner in which he deals with the fugato development impressive. His tone never coarsens or hardens, certainly never becomes brittle, no matter what the digital provocation; he is rousing but not artificially so; excitement is generated from the body of the text, not imposed artificially from without. In Op. 109 his opening Vivace is controlled, lyrical and affectionate. The Prestissimo shows Fiorentino’s adherence to Beethoven’s indications – once again clarity is never at the expense of drama and his technical command of the double counterpoint is not in question. The finale ("Singing with most fervent feeling") is eloquently expressive, Fiorentino managing to bind the movement with unselfconscious direction. He isn’t especially quick in temporal terms; the acuity is architectural.

The engineering has been realised with unobtrusive excellence and Fiorentino’s tone emerges with unimpaired beauty.

Jonathan Woolf

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