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Beethoven, Pno. Sonatas, Lewis and Leotta
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Buffalo News, Sunday May 4, 2008

Beethoven, Piano Sonatas Vol. 4 performed by Paul Lewis (Harmonia Mundi, three discs); Piano Sonatas Volume One performed by Christian Leotta (Atma, two discs). What a continually amazing era of Beethoven piano sonata performances we live in. Just as one brilliant complete Beethoven piano cycle from a young pianist — Paul Lewis’ on Harmonia Mundi — comes to a close, another one — Christian Leotta’s on Atma — begins with a Vol. 1 festooned with three of the greatest, the “Pathetique” Sonata No. 3 in C-Minor, the “Appassionata” No. 23 Op. 57 and the final sonata, No. 32 in C-Minor. It goes without saying that while there may be no such thing as a thoroughly execrable recording of the Beethoven piano sonatas, all are far from alike. The final three-disc set of 36-year-old Paul Lewis’ cycle is among the best of recent days. It too ends with Beethoven’s final piano masterwork, the C-minor Sonata No. 32, Op. 111. It includes the “Pastorale” and “Les Adieux” sonatas and some of the most brilliant performance around of the early Op. 10 sonatas. Leotta, as piano student, is nothing if not pedigreed (Rosalind Tureck, Karl Ulrich Schnabel) but as solid a pianist as the 28-year-old Italian is, he doesn’t begin to approach the freshness and electricity of Lewis in his set. ★★★ 1/2 for Lewis, ★★ 1/2 1/4 or Leotta. (J. S.)

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  Tags:   RECORDING STUDIO    Reviews of Recordings    Beethoven    Piano Sonatas    Paul Lewis    Harmonia Mundi    Christian Leotta    Pathetique    Appassionata    Pastorale    Les Adieux


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