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The Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder (born 1946), a pupil of Bruno Seidlhofer (1905-1982), is an acclaimed specialist in Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms. In this personalised look at Beethoven’s life and works, Buchbinder recounts his own performing life with Ludwig, starting with a public performance at age seven of Beethoven’s Six Variations on an Original Theme in G major WOO 77 as the youngest piano student at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Since his teens, Buchbinder has been performing all-Beethoven recitals, including in chamber music. He admits he learned about phrasing and cantabile playing by performing with such string players as Henryk Szeryng, Nathan Milstein and János Starker in Beethoven sonatas for violin and cello. He has also explored minor masters of Beethoven’s time such as the Bohemian pianist Jan Václav Voříšek (1791-1825), whose Sonata quasi una fantasia Op 20 (1825) was championed by Buchbinder along with such enthusiasts as Radoslav Kvapil and Nikolai Demidenko. My Beethoven contains savoury comments about works such as the Sonata No 12 in A flat major, Op 26, whose third movement funeral march provides ‘real goose-bump moments’, and the final movement of the Sonata No 13 in E flat major, Op 27 No 1, which must not be played ‘like an Etude, although the demands on the mobility of the left hand may almost be called insidious’ (Buchbinder uses a word of Southern German origin, ‘hinterfotzig’, also meaning malicious or sneaky). My Beethoven decidedly deserves translation into English.

BENJAMIN IVRY Read the full review on Agora Classica


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