Beethoven: Piano Sonatas – No 3 in C major, Op 2 No 3; No 14 in C sharp minor, Op 27 No 1 (Moonlight); No 23 in F minor, Op 57 (Appassionata); No 26 in E flat major, Op 81a (Les Adieux); No 32 in C minor, Op 111; 32 Piano Variations on an Original Theme in C minor

Reviewed on Thu 02 Nov, 2017

It’s the sense of deeply considered, intensely felt choices that mark this recital out as something special.

This first solo recital from Evgeny Kissin in more than a decade also marks his return to the venerable Yellow Label after 25 years. Beethovenians, pianophiles and Kissin completists will need no urging to add this compendium of live recordings from 2006-16 – with Kissin at his most compulsive and compelling – to their collections. It’s the sense of deeply considered, intensely felt choices that mark this recital out as something special. Six seminal works chart Beethoven’s development from the early Third Piano Sonata – stepping out of Mozart’s shadow with an Adagio rendered here with hypnotic stillness and precision – to the late 32nd Sonata, seething, surging and sighing in Kissin’s alert and richly sympathetic reading. For silky, sublime poetry, try the opening of the Moonlight Sonata, for fireworks the enthralling helter-skelter energy of its finale. The contrasts of the Appassionata are beautifully delineated, Les Adieux exquisitely brittle, the whole rendered with consummate skill and subtlety. My disc of the year.
–Michael Quinn