Beethoven: Appassionata / Orkis

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Lambert Orkis offers three performances of Beethoven's Appassionata sonata, each featuring a different instrument of Viennese design. No doubt period piano connoisseurs will anticipate a bountiful taste test of timbre and resonance between the disparate Wolf and Regier fortepianos and the modern Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand. Orkis, for his part, discusses in the booklet notes how he had to change his performance technique in order to adjust to each instrument's physical characteristics, although the interpretations (recorded on consecutive days) appear to be cut from the same conscientious, perceptively detailed cloth.

The Wolf fortepiano, based on instruments by Nannette Streicher circa 1814-1820, has a transparency and bite that lends itself to the high degree of nervous tension Orkis cites in his performance. Actually I hear "tense" more than "tension", in that the pianist's earnest adherence to Beethoven's combative accents and sudden dynamic shifts sometimes pulls focus from the music's dramatic sweep and rhythmic momentum. Although Orkis clearly enjoys the Bösendorfer's sustaining power in the slow-movement variations, he pursues a surprisingly limited dynamic range in comparison to Garrick Ohlsson's more powerfully projected version (also played on a Bösendorfer Imperial Grand). However, the R. J. Regier fortepiano's alluring tonal differentiation inspires a similarly detailed reading with greater note-to-note continuity and backbone, as well as the newfound abandon in virtuosic passages Orkis accurately cites. A fascinating disc.

--Jed Distler,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: BCD9169

  • UPC: 090404916922

  • Label: Bridge

  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven

  • Performer: Lambert Orkis