Murray Perahia has certainly come a long way since winning
the Leeds Piano Competition in 1972. Looking back on Perahia’s
career there have been some really magnificent recordings. My
particular favourite Perahia discs from my collection have
been the outstanding recitals:
the Chopin selection that feature the four Ballades
a selection of Nocturnes
Recorded in Switzerland in 1994 for Sony Classical on SK
a selection of 15 of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without
Bach/Busoni four Choral Preludes
Schubert/Liszt four Song Transcriptions.
was recorded in 1997 at New Jersey, USA and 1998 in London
on Sony Classical SK 66511.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the New York City
pianist. Murray Perahia
faced a professional catastrophe when a finger injury looked
like ending his career. Sometimes one grows stronger through adversity and Perahia’s enforced absence from the keyboard has
clearly enabled him to relish his second opportunity as a
Perahia’s recent come-back has seen him adopt
a higher profile. There has been his new release of J.S.
Bach’s Partitas 2
Classical 88697226952 also a reissue of the complete English
on a double set for Sony Classical 88697310502.
Few can forget Perahia’s re-appearance, after an absence
of twenty years, at the 2008 BBC Proms playing Mozart’s Piano
Concerto No. 24 in C Major
with the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra under Bernard Haitink.
This Sony release from Perahia comprises Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
10, 12 and 15. I understand the disc is the first volume
in Perahia’s projected Urtext edition of the complete Beethoven
The first score on the disc is the four movement Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat major
, Op. 26 from 1801 that Beethoven dedicated to his
patron Prince Karl Lichnowsky. The generally lyrical score
opens with a splendid Andante
a theme and variations
played by Perahia with authority, grace and beauty and I
loved the Scherzo
so brisk and buoyant. In the outer
sections the solemn third movement funeral march ‘For
the death of a hero
’ is given an interpretation of a
respectfully solemn tread. Perahia is exhilarating in the
central section at 2:01-3:00 providing explosions and fireworks
perhaps evocative of guns and cannons. I was struck by the
sheer energy and confidence of Perahia’s playing of the burbling
Both opus 14 scores were composed in 1798-99 and
dedicated to Baroness Josefa von Braun whose husband was director of the Royal and Imperial Theatre in Vienna. The Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major
, Op. 14/1 is an
unassuming score cast in three movements. I enjoyed the poise
and vigour from Perahia in the opening Allegro
has chosen to convey a rather sombre and dark interpretation
of the central movement, marked Allegretto
brings out the light and varied dance-like rhythms of the
cordial final movement Rondo
- Allegro comodo
includes an unexpected display of vigour at the conclusion.
The good-humoured Piano Sonata No. 10 in G
, Op. 14/2 also follows the three movement design.
I marvel at Perahia’s exuberance in the opening Allegro
in the contrasting central movement he accentuates the
march-like theme and provides a bright and sparkling performance
of the miniature set of variations. Perahia in the Scherzo
a bustling and boisterous conclusion to the score.
The generally sunny Piano Sonata No.
15 in D major
’ is dedicated to Count Joseph
von Sonnenfels. It was Beethoven’s
publisher Cranz of Hamburg who allotted the title of ‘Pastoral
to the even-tempered manner of the four movement score.
Perahia conveys glowing, autumnal tones of nature to
the opening Allegro
and buoyant and crisp rhythms
to the contrasting stately march of the Andante
I especially enjoyed Perahia’s mischievousness in the
and the splendid variety of moods
and energies that Perahia communicates to the attractively
Recorded in Berlin at the Rundfunkzentrum
the close sound is vividly clear and well balanced. The essay
in the booklet notes is interesting, yet strangely, I could
find no information on the Sonata No. 15 in D major
Op. 28 ‘Pastoral
’. I also noticed that the composition
date of the group of four sonatas, Opp. 26, 27 and 28 is
given in the text as 1831. This should be 1801 as Beethoven
died in 1827.
These marvellous Beethoven interpretations from Murray Perahia feel
so natural and fresh, combined with an astonishing level
of assurance. This recital is a splendid achievement and
deserves to be in every Beethoven collection.