BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas Nos 30 - 32 SCRIABIN Etude
For her Decca solo debut, the Italian pianist Maria Perrotta rather boldly offers a live concert recording of Beethoven’s last three sonatas. She captures the Op 109 opening movement’s seemingly improvisatory spirit and manages to articulate Beethoven’s difficult-to-execute rapid dynamic extremes while pushing the central climax full steam ahead. She doesn’t sufficiently contrast the Prestissimo’s soft espressivo episodes with those in tempo. While the third movement has marvellous moments (the gently floating mezza voce line toward Var 1’s end, Var 4’s murmuring broken chords), Var 2’s bland leggieramente execution and Var 5’s overly loud part-writing take a back seat to the more detailed precision of Mitsuko Uchida and Igor Levit, among recent favourites.
One also might wish for more give and take within the lyrical narrative of Op 110’s first movement (less perfunctory trills, more shape to the rapid left-hand figurations), plus clearer delineation in the second theme. But Perrotta impressively contours the fugue’s textures in the manner of an intensely unfolding and animated conversation.
If she holds back in Op 111’s first-movement climaxes, her nimble touch and cumulative sweep in the gnarly keyboard-writing still impress. Perrotta projects the cantabile melody of the ‘Arietta’ yet underplays the left hand’s gravitational centre. She evokes sustained calm in the final pages, then wrecks the mood with an incongruous encore, Scriabin’s Op 8 No 2 Etude, where her interpretation veers off in many directions yet never gets off the ground.