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One of the most exciting pianists of the younger generation, American Jonathan Biss is widely regarded for his artistry, musical intelligence and deeply felt interpretations, winning international recognition for his orchestral, recital and chamber music performances and for his award-winning recordings. He performs a diverse repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven, through the Romantics to Janácek and Schoenberg as well as works by contemporary composers. This marks the debut release in Biss' complete cycle of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas for Onyx. The first volume features three works from Beethoven's early period and one from the middle - the famous 'Les Adieux'. This programme illustrates how Beethoven's sonatas developed from the early, virtuosic works of the 1790s to the assured compositions of his middle period.
"Biss is not only one of the most technically skilful of young instrumentalists (and heaven knows there are plenty of those around) but he has an emotional maturity that belies his years." Gramophone
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 5 in C minor, Op. 10 No. 1
1. Allegro Molto E Con Brio
2. Adagio Molto
3. Finale: Prestissimo
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 11 in B flat major, Op. 22
1. Allegro Con Brio
2. Adagio Con Molta Espressione
4. Rondo: Allegretto
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat major, Op. 26 'March Funebre'
1. Andante Con Variazioni
2. Scherzo: Allegro Molto
3. Marcia Funebre Sulla Morte D'Un Eroe
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 26 in E flat major, Op. 81a 'Les Adieux'
1. Das Lebewohl. Adagio - Allegro
2. Abwesenheit. Andante Espressivo
3. Das Wiedersehn. Vivacissimamente
“Biss's linear contouring and razor-sharp touch in the Scherzo leave [Paul] Lewis's dainty deliberation at the starting-gate...Audiences seem to inspire more dangerous and no less technically assured Beethoven-playing from Biss; perhaps a live concert would be a better context for Onyx to continue cultivating their Biss/Beethoven merger.”
22nd December 2011
“There's a wonderfully unforced quality to Biss's playing that's as effective in Beethoven as it was in the outstanding Schumann disc with which he really made his name four years ago. The way in which he eases into the opening movement of the A flat Funeral March Sonata Op 26, or perfectly weights the climaxes in Op 81a, Les Adieux, are marks of an outstanding pianist; for those who stay the course, this could be a Beethoven cycle to treasure.”
7th January 2012
“Biss takes a middle-of-the-road view – no overly prim classicism, no romantic waywardness. He handles the slow music of Sonatas 5 and 26 thoughtfully, and the latter’s lively finale is suitably inspiring.”
20th January 2012
“Biss turned 30 two years ago, and he’s anything but youthfully rash in his approach. His concern is with the range and sheer fecundity of Beethoven’s invention...Tonally, the playing is finely controlled, with a balance that’s rich in the bass and smooth in the treble, and the recording is well-focused, without clouding effects from any overhang of reverberation. What’s not to like?”
“[Biss] has all the ingredients he needs to become one of today's great Beethovenians. This disc proves he's well on the way. He teases out the brilliant and quirky heart of the sonatas; he is affectionate in the reflective slow movements, and witty and light-fingered in the virtuoso sky-rockets. He takes nothing for granted: in his hands Beethoven is no pompous grand master but an energetic radical, bursting at the seams with fresh ideas.””
29th January 2012
“The performances — brilliant, precisely thought, yet spontaneous-sounding — are a joy. I also like the way Biss has chosen to begin with four of the least often heard sonatas, then shows how wrong we are not to celebrate them, for in his hands they are a continual surprise and delight.”
“this is a marvellously promising beginning by one of the most thoughtful and technically accomplished pianists of the younger generation...his playing is by no means didactic: it is forceful, fierce but not exaggerated, and sometimes scintillating...I look forward to the next instalment”
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