Alfred Brendel is well known and well respected by the musical community as a great interpreter of Beethoven, but the recordings on this cycle are second to none. Alfred Brendel brings the discipline of perfect precision to the music in a way that I have never experienced before; regardless of speed or complexity, each note stands on its own and yet is perfectly part of the whole. One might expect there to be some reduction in expressiveness as a result of such amazing precision, but quite the reverse is true. The feeling that runs through the pieces is wholly genuine, and Brendel never allows technical ability to compromise artistic integrity. Consider the 3rd movement of the Waldstein sonata. The subtlety of the rendition is second to none, and one feels intimately attached to the music, as though Beethoven himself were playing through him. The shifts in velocity, tempo, colour and just the general feeling of the piece are simultaneously uplifting and captivating. Despite this wonder of expressiveness there is never any inappropriate enrichment or thickening of tone, a trap that so many great performers seem unable to escape.
This is what it must have been like to hear Liszt perform Beethoven - Alfred Brendel is at the same time a master of precision and expression, one for whom technique and form are as one.