BEETHOVEN: THE COMPLETE SONATAS
Acclaimed by TIME magazine and all major trade journals when first released, this set was recently reviewed by Jed Distler in Gramophone,. "Claude Frank's Beethoven cycle originally appeared on RCA's budget Victrola label in 1970, to mark the composer's bicentennial. Its reissue in Music and Arts' midprice Merit series is something to shout about. Frank, who studied with Artur Schnabel and Rudolf Serkin, shares his teachers' concern with both the music's architecture and passion, yet brings his own brand of stylish exuberance to the mix. The early sonatas particularly rock with rhythmic brio, zesty accentuation, and characterful wit. Interestingly, they contrast to Frank's genial, slightly sedate readings of the Op. 31 group. As the cycle progresses chronologically, Frank's intelligent flexibility asserts itself with telling results. In addition to his superb, exultant Appasionata, Les Adieux, and last three sonatas, Frank finds more melodic appeal than usual beneath Op. 101 and 106's gnarly bushes. In short, this is one of the more stimulating Beethoven sonata cycles around, and I'm glad to make its reacquaintance after so many years."
Donald Manildi wrote in American Record Guide, "Frank studied with Artur Schnabel for nearly ten years, and his mentorís influence is strongly felt in the unmistakable analytical awareness, structural planning, and attention to textural detail that these performances disclose. There is also a vigor and robustness to Frankís playing that eliminates any trace of pedantry or dryness. In short, Frank retains all the positive elements of Schnabelís distinctive approach but without the latterís occasional descents into metrical or technical slovenliness. The authentic Beethovenian spririt of Frankís interpretations is perhaps best defined by listing the pitfalls he adeptly manages to avoid: he does not veer into Mozartean formality, relaxed Schubertian lyricism, Chopinesque rubato, or Lisztian bravura, nor into Teutonic heavy-handedness that crops up too often in other performances."
About the original RCA issue:
"One of the year's ten best" Time
"Among the great individual musical accomplishments of the last decade." Esquire
"A splendidly executed, masterfully interpreted accomplishment." High Fidelity
"The most poetic series of performances to be recorded." Saturday Review
CD-4640(10) (formerly 640) BEETHOVEN: The Complete Piano Sonatas. Claude Frank, Piano. Reissue of the celebrated 1971 RCA LP set. Digitally refurbished. (ADD) UPC #0-17685-46402-7
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