One of the most grown-up review sites around

2019
52,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free


we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


TROUBADISC

with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation


absolutely thrilling


immediacy and spontaneity


Schumann Lieder


24 Preludes
one of the finest piano discs


‘Box of Delights.’


J S Bach A New Angle
Organ fans form an orderly queue


GERNSHEIM Quartets
a most welcome issue


I enjoyed it tremendously


the finest traditions of the house


music for theorbo
old and new

John Luther Adams
Become Desert
concealing a terrifying message


ground-breaking, winning release


Charpentier
screams quality


Surprise of the month


English Coronation, 1902-1953
magnificent achievement

REVIEW
Plain text for smartphones & printers

We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount



Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

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

Sample: See what you will get

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

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Sonata No. 30, Op. 109 [21:53]
Piano Sonata No. 31, Op. 110 [20:36]
Piano Sonata No. 32, Op. 111 [23:30]
Beth Levin (piano)
rec. 20 April 2012, Faust Harrison Pianos, New York City
NAVONA RECORDS NV5908 [65:59]

Beth Levin's Beethoven sonatas suffer from unfortunate drawbacks. These include very poor sound quality which is weirdly and almost artificially reverberant at climaxes. The piano is so unflatteringly portrayed that I thought it was a period instrument. The occasional technical slips may be because the disc was recorded in one day and interpretive decisions I'm not always fond of. For examples of the latter, turn to the start of No. 30 (Op. 109), which on first listen I thought soft and graceful - but then decided was prettified. Then again there are the variations of that same sonata, where at about 9:00 there's a sudden lurch forward in tempo that can't be explained. After 12:00 there are some wince-inducing finger-slips.
 
Although the transition between Sonatas Nos. 30 and 31 is handled with a beautiful touch, vindicating the “A Single Breath” title of the disc, I have qualms about the way Levin seems to put on the brakes whenever momentum threatens to build. The final fugue is the exception, a grand conclusion, which would probably sound good in concert but not in a reverberant environment which is a bit like if the piano keys were dropping into a swimming pool.
 
The final sonata's first movement is again plagued with errors, without the kind of distinction or insight that makes some technically shaky artists worth hearing. The exposition repeat is omitted. The finale is good, in fact the next-best-played movement on the disc (behind the finale of 31), although the highest trills nearly pierced my eardrums because of the faulty recording.
 
I don't know why these performances were released on CD, and especially not with such unpleasant sound. With so many better recordings of the sonatas clamouring for your attention, this is one of those albums that need not have been made. Instead spend your money on Penelope Crawford's recording of the same three sonatas, which is also fairly recent and which I would choose over the likes of Richter, Goode, Barenboim, or Pollini.  


Brian Reinhart
 


Masterwork Index: Beethoven sonatas 30-32