Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas have long been regarded as the Mt. Everest of the form, heights that can be scaled only by pianists who possess the keyboard technique to realize the depth of the composer’s vision. By those standards, if Uchida isn’t the equal of such giants as Arrau, Kempff, and Schnabel, she certainly comes close enough to make this an outstanding release. Her pianissimos are feathery-light; her fortes are as powerful as one might wish, and her trills are analogues of Beethoven’s spiritual ideas. She renders Beethoven’s full dynamic palette with nuances that make every shading register. Uchida never makes an ugly sound. Her tone remains warm, colorful, and full-bodied. More important, her interpretation encompasses the inward, contemplative slow sections as well as the energetic ones, and she plays Beethoven’s contrapuntal passages with a clarity that makes every musical strand count. She’s helped by outstanding engineering, too. Not all of the transcendental Beethoven is captured here, but Uchida comes a lot closer than most pianists can aspire to. That alone makes this disc a must-have. -- Dan Davis
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Refined and subtle in her pianism, Japanese virtuoso Mitsuko Uchida proved along a fabulous career a strong and constant affinity with Viennese classical style. Therefore, she was expected to approach Beethoven's keyboard treasure at a certain moment. Signed by her, a magnificent traversal of Schubert's piano works emerged in recorded form some years ago. Also, she explored with great success Mozart realm (sonatas and concertos), so the Titan's masterpieces were still waiting for her inspiration. The final trilogy of the 32 sonatas ranks among the most intriguing and demanding works, especially shaped for such refined interpreters. And the proper moment occurred recently (2006) to the great delight of Uchida's fans. A wondrous (yet very sober and restrained) version of opp. 109, 110 & 111 featured all the elegance in Uchida's playing. The drama of this final pronouncement is all confined in these three sonatas. How delicate though deeply felt sound they in Uchida's hands! How...
Lyrical in the extreme. Ms. Uchida sings.
I admire Mitsuko Uchida's scholarship, and her clearly planned trajectory in choice of repertory. My impression, which is solely based on my observation of her career, is that she wisely chose to begin with Mozart, as that simply was what she knew she could play with all her heart, bringing to the music intelligence, the perfect techinique (and as a pianist, believe me, that technique is maybe not even "teachable" but a karmic gift...)
There is good reason why we have had to wait awhile for Uchida to give us these recordings of Beethoven 109,110, 111. Articlate is the one word I find that best sums her playing of these works. Others reviews have expressed the beauty of the engineering of these recordings. I'm sure Uchida-san stayed through the process that gives these recordings much of their beauty. All her hard work to express all she felt it, the meaning of these Sonatas she would not allowed to be lost in the long work of the acoustics, the engineering; praise her for...
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