One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Some items
to consider

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati




simply marvellous

Outstanding music

Elite treatment

some joyous Gershwin

Bartok String Quartets
uniquely sensitive

Cantatas for Soprano


alternatively AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat, Op. 106, Hammerklavier (1818) [44:50]
Piano Sonata No. 3 in C, Op. 2 No. 3 (1794/5) [26:35].
Markus Becker (piano)
rec. November 2004. DDD
CPO 777 239-2 [71:30]

I very much enjoyed Markus Becker's disc of Dussek for CPO on 777 020-2 (see review): piano sonatas Opp. 44, 61 and 64. Yet Dussek is one thing; the Beethoven of the Hammerklavier altogether another. Becker clearly takes a heroic view of this gargantuan work; just listen to the challenge of the opening bars. There is plenty of understanding of voice-leading here, too. It is just that there is a tendency for Becker to get more pedestrian as the movement progresses. The Scherzo fares well enough, but it is not really until the huge slow movement that we get to hear what Becker is capable of. Becker takes it at my kind of speed: very, very slowly it takes him just one second under twenty minutes. He has the long-range clarity of thought and the cantabile, legato touch to sustain it. If this is not the deepest version - try Schnabel, Pollini or Brendel for that - Becker nevertheless sustains the tension over such a large span.
A shame, then, that the finale almost spoils it by being rather careful with the fugue's expository semiquavers. In live performance I feel sure Becker would not tread quite so thoughtfully. The tension does flag, though this is more Bachian than Beethovenian playing. Ironically, Becker is at his best just before the end. There is so much to admire here, yet this is clearly an interpretation in progress.
The B flat Sonata, Op. 22 is one of the longest of Beethoven's earlier works in this genre. It is also notoriously tricky: that pesky C major so many white notes! Yet Becker makes light of the difficulties, clarifying voice-leading and projecting a crystal-clean treble. This is very well caught in CPO's recording. The dreamy yet not unstylish Adagio is pitted against an opera buffa-like Scherzo where the polyphonic strands play Tom-and-Jerry with each other. The finger-twister finale is expertly negotiated with a real sense of rightness.
Becker is a pianist to watch. I would like to see him live, for sure. Unfortunately the booklet is not up to CPO's normally high standards. There is no recording venue specified, something CPO are normally consistent about also, his instrument is referred to as a 'fortepiano' and just next to that a Steinway model 'D'.
Colin Clarke




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.