Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Rudolph Serkin / Beethoven Sonata 11 and 24, Fantasie in G minor
I'll confess at the outset that Rudolph Serkin is my favorite pianist in the repertory he recorded. He has been accused of having been indifferent to tonal beauty, of pounding the keys, of using the pedal too sparingly. None of that seems very significant to me: What Serkin does, perhaps better than any other pianist I know, at least to my ears, is to reveal with uncompromising musical intelligence and integrity, the architecture and formal logic of a piece of music. No one, for my money, does it better. It matches perfectly how I listen to music. Where others hear a too severe and sparing use of the pedal, I hear inner voices enunciated with deeply satisfying clarity; where others hear pounding I hear fire and passion. I simply, and unequivically, like the way Serkin plays. I was lucky enough to hear him in Boston during his last world tour, when he played the last three Beethoven sonatas. Yes, already an ill man, he missed some notes and dropped some others. But the performance was so illuminating, penetrated so deeply into the human soul through the music, that only a hardened heart would have thought it mattered.
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