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Customer reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars

on 24 February 2010
I greatly admire Brendel as a supreme interpreter of Beethoven Sonatas, but this live performance of Hammerklavier is real disappointment. His playing lacks solidness and it sounds even prosaic at times. You can say it has a kind of fluid spontaneity and poetic sensitivity, but this momunental sonata requires something more. Les Adieux is a bit better, but again it lacks the extra factor to call it a great performance.
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on 27 December 2016
Observation and interpretation are phenomena. The other reviewer of this disc (on Amazon.com) states the following – and I ascribe to it fully:

“Though it seems thoughtful and poised, (Brendel’s Op. 106) is full of playful freshness. The notes fly off naturally, hitting their proper nuances thorough a well calibrated touch of the keys. This unique way of voicing out the minute inflexions of the piano can be well called ‘Brendel touch’. Never confoundable! Unmatchable! Enthusiastically classical!”

In a way, this says everything that needs to be said. Nevertheless, Beethoven’s Hammerklavier is – or should be - a cosmological statement. The likes of Richter, Arrau, Backhaus and Gilels deliver galaxies and nebulae. Not so Uncle Alfred. His Hammerklavier is respectful, controlled and devoid of exuberance. If something comes into existence, it’s more likely to be a package from Royal Mail. To be fair to Uncle Alfred, this is a live performance of Op. 106 which injects more tension into his music-making than usual even if the edits are self-evident on headphones. Even so, eruptions beyond mezzo-forte are rare if not non-existent. The performance of Les Adieux is cut from the same cloth. Elvis’ Mystery Train of 1955 this ain’t.

In closing, I apologise to those hardy few who saw my first draft of this review where Donald Trump (via his online Random Insult Generator) shared his thoughts on this performance. Sometimes one has to walk the line.
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