Beethoven: Piano Sonatas – No 27 in E minor, Op 90; No 28 in A major, Op 101; No 29 in B flat major, Op 106 (Hammerklavier)

Reviewed on Tue 27 Dec, 2016

It’s the meeting of drama and poetry here that captures the ear and the imagination, detail and scale both inked in to telling effect.

Here are performances of three late Beethoven piano sonatas that can take their place among the very best in a crowded catalogue. Setting out his stall in typically articulate fashion, Steven Osborne leads off with the mighty Hammerklavier and a barnstorming opening it proves to be. There’s a wholly engaging freshness of approach, a determined energy that perfectly captures the music’s forceful deliberation, its improvisatory feeling and its fleet, fluid sense of invention. It’s the meeting of drama and poetry here that captures the ear and the imagination, detail and scale both inked in to telling effect. If the earlier E minor and A major Sonatas (Opp 90 and 101) lack the capacity to grip with quite the same protean immediacy, Osborne nonetheless has much to say about them. The E minor is distinguished by a bracing dynamic variety while retaining its more lyrical and introspective moments; the A major delivered with painterly concern for colour and shape. Excellent notes by Barry Cooper.
–Michael Quinn