These notable performances complete Martin Roscoe’s distinguished Beethoven Piano Sonata cycle for Deux-Elles. He’s saved the mighty ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata (Opus 106) for the culmination, and a magnificent account it is too. The first movement is measured yet impetuous, forceful yet light-fingered, with time to consider without losing flow, and suitably gruff at times – a fine balance of essentials; then a frisky Scherzo, poised yet capricious. With the great Adagio Roscoe is reassuringly spacious – nineteen minutes – a profound meditation exploring the music’s recesses, contemplating a world beyond, an existential experience from which we are brought back to Earth by the Finale’s fiendish fugue given with bravura and clarity – what I consider a ‘Bach moment’ is perfectly realised (3:52-3:59) – the whole lifted off the page with diabolism and no strain, resolutely concluded.
Leading up to Opus 106 is the E-minor Sonata, Opus 90, commanding and confiding, the second (final) movement blessed with shape, light and shade. Opening the recital is Opus 79 (G-major), a joyous rendition in the outer movements (sparkling and witty in the Finale – Alfred Brendel has devoted lecture time to Beethoven’s musical humour) with a song-without-words Andante coming between, sensitively essayed.
Patrick Naylor’s explicit engineering ensures nothing of Roscoe’s inspired playing is missed (Potton Hall), and producer Mike George and the pianist collaborate an interview for the booklet. Deux-Elles DXL 1169.