Beethoven: The Last Three Sonatas, Opp. 109-111
Having first recorded Beethoven’s final three piano sonatas in 1977, the great Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini returns to them in a new live recording. Pollini’s playing has lost none of its majesty in the intervening years, but perhaps where, in the studio, his performances may have previously emerged a little too pristine, here Beethoven’s artistic struggles and technical challenges are thrust further into the open. Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111 rages anew, its astonishing Arietta and variations restless, searching. Op. 109 initially treads a more lyrical course, but Pollini constantly heaves Beethoven’s mental agonies, once again, to the surface. This is dramatic, wild, bold playing that demands to be heard.