Beethoven: Piano Sonatas & Variations

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One of three complementary albums which celebrate the art of the Hungarian pianist Andor Foldes in the music of Beethoven, this Eloquence release pairs an eventful journey through the composer's sonatas with his excursions into shorter and lighter repertoire. Taken by itself, the release would serve as an ideal introduction to Beethoven's piano music. Foldes was renowned for his no-frills pianism, just as the composer was known in his own time for lessons which did not fuss about a dropped note here or there but concentrated on expression and direct communication. These are the qualities already to be prized in the Op. 7 Sonata, written five years after Beethoven's decisive move from Bonn to Vienna but still bursting with the exuberance of his twenties. At the other end of the composer's career, the release presents Beethoven at his most puzzling and confrontational in the Op. 126 Bagatelles - the briefest of which lasts barely ten seconds - and at his most searching in his penultimate Sonata, Op. 110. The Ecossaises and little-known Rondos present a lighter, more carefree side to Beethoven, and his best-known work for piano, Far Elise, shares a tenderness with the more profound slow movement which he had intended to use for the 'Waldstein' Sonata but eventually let stand alone as the Andante favori. Foldes made these recordings over four years at the end of the 1950s, when he was invited across the world to perform the Classical masters which he had most loved since the beginning of his prodigious career: he had performed the First and Fourth concertos in public by the age of eleven. He was a diligent and sober recording artist, as his Beethoven series for Deutsche Grammophon exemplifies."