Sterndale Bennett: Piano Sonata in F minor, Op 13; Schumann: Symphonic Etudes, Op 13 (First version)

Reviewed on Thu 27 Jul, 2017

Japanese pianist Hiroaki Takenouchi lends enormously persuasive advocacy to the substantial Sonata in F minor by William Sterndale Bennett. Completed in 1837, this 36-minute work is as impressive as it is neglected.

Rich in tone and possessing an enviably secure technique, the London-based Japanese pianist Hiroaki Takenouchi lends enormously persuasive advocacy to the substantial Sonata in F minor by William Sterndale Bennett (1816-1875). Completed in 1837 and bearing a dedication to Mendelssohn, this 36-minute work in four movements is as impressive as it is neglected, launching most propitiously with a gloriously long-breathed Moderato espressivo worthy of Felix himself (exposition repeat rightly included) and attaining comparably eloquent heights in the Moderato grazioso slow movement (a deeply touching inspiration) and thrillingly combustible Presto agitato finale. Not surprisingly, Takenouchi sounds utterly besotted with this cherishable discovery, and he goes on to give a no less accomplished rendering of Schumann's magnificent – and technically daunting – Symphonic Etudes in their original guise, composed three years before Bennett's Sonata and inscribed to the Englishman (the two works also share the same opus number). All in all, a very desirable pairing.
–Andrew Achenbach