Bach: English Suite No 3; Beethoven: Sonata No 23; Schumann: Symphonic Etude / Rudolf Buchbinder

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BACH English Suite No. 3. Partita No. 1 in B?: Gigue. BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata, “Appassionata.” SCHUMANN Symphonic Etudes • Rudolf Buchbinder (pn) • ORFEO 775...

BACH English Suite No. 3. Partita No. 1 in B?: Gigue. BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata, “Appassionata.” SCHUMANN Symphonic Etudes Rudolf Buchbinder (pn) ORFEO 775 081 (78:34) Live: Salzburg 7/29/2004

Performances recorded live permit a spontaneity of expression to emerge that is often lacking in studio versions. Digital fixes are often absent from live renditions and are too often present in studio renditions. And the studio enables retakes of entire movements, which can result in a discontinuous conception of an entire work. But live includes “warts-and-all” of the moment.

Here we have Rudolf Buchbinder live from Salzburg before an enthusiastic audience, judging from the vigorous applause between pieces and at the conclusion. Buchbinder is not a common figure this side of the Atlantic, but he is a formidable pianist and musician well known throughout Europe. A former child prodigy now in his sixties, he has concertized and recorded extensively, but few of his recordings are available here (based on

Except for a somewhat indulgent use of embellishments, Buchbinder’s playing of Bach’s Third English Suite is exemplary. His emphasis of the left hand parts in the repeats (compared with a somewhat subdued left hand in the first appearances) is a welcome approach. Buchbinder’s “Appassionata,” on the other hand (no pun here), is not exemplary, but is somewhat indulgent. The forte/piano contrasts and the energicos and their releases, built into the first movement by the composer, are exaggerated by Buchbinder, not grossly perhaps, but unwisely. One might say there is too much “ ata ” to feel the passion. The second movement variations are frequented by small inflections that Buchbinder seems to use to insert his personal stamp. I have always regarded this movement as one that speaks so well for itself that it is best when offered as plain and songful. The concluding movement shows Buchbinder at his best, giving the listener a tour de force finale to a tour de force sonata.

Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes is an extraordinary set of 18 brief variations (the final variation is not really brief) in C? Minor that comprise Schumann’s op. 13. On this disc, the five variations deleted by, presumably, Schumann some years after initial publication, but later restored by Brahms, are included. Buchbinder’s traversal of these variations is every bit as attractive as that of Alexis Weissenberg’s (also live), reviewed by me in 30:6. Although I prefer Weissenberg’s more poetic approach, Buchbinder’s ideas need to be heard by all.

This is a disc to own, warts and all, because of its spontaneity and its offering of a superb musician’s musical ideas about three major, all in the minor (key), pieces. The concluding Bach Gigue is an encore for an “in the major” change.

FANFARE: Burton Rothleder

Product Description:

  • Release Date: July 31, 2008

  • UPC: 4011790775128

  • Catalog Number: ORF-C775081

  • Label: ORFEO

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Robert Schumann

  • Performer: Rudolf Buchbinder