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Dunelm Records

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Rondo in G Op 51 No 2 (1797/1798) [9:40]
Bagatelle in A, Op 119 No 4 (1820-1822) [2:01]
Bagatelle in A, Op 119 No 10 (1820-1822) [0:13]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Sonata No 20 in A D959 (1828) [40:16]
Bernard Roberts (Piano)
rec. live, Whitely Hall, Chethams, Manchester, 24 August 2005

Dunelm records continues its connection with and support of Chethamís School of Music in this celebrity recital. Bernard Roberts is known for his Beethoven sonata series recorded for Nimbus in the mid-eighties. That cycle was my introduction to the glorious last movement of the Op 109 sonata.†
Dunelm, as some may know, is truly a grass-roots firm, with Jim and Joyce Pattison, who head the label, record the performances, write the liner notes, construct and print the booklets and individually burn the CDs.† With all of this work, they donate the profits of this recording - as well as the profits of another disc I reviewed - to Chethamís.† The Pattisons take what they do quite seriously, obviously from love of music and the artistry evident in the performers.
The live performance here is restrained, distinguished, and a wonderful, if somewhat short, program.† I should add that it is difficult to discern that it is in fact a live performance: only a couple of distant coughs over the course of the recording betray the presence of an audience. The opening Beethoven Rondo Op. 51 No. 2 is a restrained, wonderfully performed, similar generally to the recording of the work that Brendel made for Vox in the early sixties, and a good deal more laconically-inclined than Kempffís performance for Deutsche Grammophon.†

Regarding the Schumann, the first movement is done exceedingly well; a more restrained performance than Brendelís (Philips).† Robertsí playing has definition and keeps its tone distinct and unmuddied in the opening minute of the piece.† He keeps us well-grounded in the music, with little flash, little sentimentality, and little reliance on effect.† What we have here is simple and unpretentious, which in itself displays an uncommon artistry all its own.
The slow second movement is especially effectively performed, again with no reliance on effect other than the music as it is, played simply.† Brendel has more of an emotive impact, and for repeated listenings, remains one Iíd pick over this performance of this movement in particular.† Roberts bests Brendel in the definition and grace of the scherzo movement, with more distinctness and sparkle, as well as more time spent enjoying the beauty of the middle section ó Robertsí performance clocks in a full minute longer in this movement.† Whereas the opening of the last movement in Brendelís performance carries a somewhat wistful backward glance at what has gone before, Roberts looks forward and delivers more crisp definition.
As almost an appendix, likely the encores for the recital, we have two of the Op. 119 bagatelles of Beethoven, No. 4 and No. 10, both in A.† If only more of the bagatelles would have been performed!† †It is an unfortunately somewhat short programme, but one that makes up for its brevity with solid performance and intimate recording.† The miking is close - not excessively so - and audience noise is practically non-existent.† An enjoyable recording.
David Blomenberg

see also reviews by Philip L Scowcroft, Ian Milnes and Dominy Clements


Dunelm Records


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