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Three of Beethoven’s best-known piano sonatas are presented here on an 1807 Jakob Weimes pianoforte. The demands placed by Beethoven on the keyboards of his time were high indeed, and although the composer considered the piano an ‘inadequate instrument’, it is exciting to hear music of such extremes played on a piano that is truly stretched to its limits in terms of dynamic force.

Soo Park’s delivery of these challenging works is consistently well-measured and flowing, with no more than the faintest traces of rubato. The quiet, mysterious and ominous moments of these works – of which there are several – really come alive on this instrument, and Park creates a beautiful atmosphere of suspense even in the best-known sections of these sonatas.

Those used to renditions of these works on a modern piano may find aspects of the music slightly less satisfying: the tone quality of the Weimes pianoforte is such that the undulations of the Tempest sonata’s final movement are less even, with graceful surges of colour more difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, the famously challenging pedal trill sections and glissando octaves of the Waldstein’s Rondo are delivered with ease and finesse.

This is a nuanced performance, well-voiced and beautifully timed, with a wonderful balance of mood and sound.

Miriam Levenson Read the full review on Agora Classica


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