Site review by akiralx November 9, 2007
|This is the second volume in Tchetuev's planned sonata cycle, and very fine it is - his musical personality is now become a little clearer which can help us know what to expect in later volumes.
The recording is as superb as on volume 1, with the complete absence of any ringing on the higher registers above forte, a kind of sonic 'blown highlights', to use a photographic analogy. This SACD is a bit shorter though, under 58 minutes.
Similarly the good points about Tchetuev's playing: the superb voicing of chords, excellent passagework, wide dynamic range without banging, and consistently fine choice of tempi, are all present. So too is one facet which was hinted at in volume one: his avoidance of excitement. This isn't really a criticicm, because he can and does play powerfully and dramatically (as in his superb Appassionata), but occasionally, as in the finale of the Pathétique, I do slightly miss a hint of flamboyance.
I was comparing his reading of the Pathétique with Pollini's from a few years ago - one of the Italian's better Beethoven recordings. Listening to the two one would never guess Tchetuev is less than half Pollini's age - his sounds very much the older man's performance. It's not dissimilar to Barenboim's first (EMI) recording, slightly mature beyond the soloist's years.
But I don't think Tchetuev is yet in danger of turning into a humourless junior Alfred Brendel (who plays Schubert much better than Beethoven in my view), or heaven forbid, Claudio Arrau at his dullest. But maybe he should inject a little more youthful exuberance in the next volume.
Tchetuev's choice of generally unhurried tempi might be one reason, though he never sounds too sedate, and is always interesting as a result of his sheer pianism. His performance of the slow movement is superb, flowing, warm, with some idiomatic rubato, and those ideally voiced chords. I like this interpretation a lot, but I'll be turning to other pianists as well for this work.
He's back on top form for the Pastoral sonata, this really is excellent, though maybe others, like Barenboim on DG, have injected a tad more wit into the quirky central passage of the Andante. His reading of the finale is especially fine.
He's similarly good in the 11 minute op.78 sonata, in two movements: Kovacevich on EMI also does this one very well, but here Tchetuev chooses a slightly faster tempo for the opening movement, and the whole performance is enjoyable.