***** The best sounding recording of a piano
This performance of two Beethoven sonatas recorded before a live audience in a castle in Germany by pianist Lilya Zilberstein is incredible in two respects. First, the Appassionata is played as well as anyone I know, including the many legends of the keyboard who have recorded this masterpiece. Zilberstein has it all--technique, style, and passion. Equally remarkable is the sound. This is the best sounding recording of a piano I have ever heard--it must be heard to be believed, and if you are lucky to have a fine sound system you are in for a stupendous aural treat. If wish to hear a magnificant performance in otherwordly fidelity I urge you to track this release down before it becomes unavailable.
***** Exceptional Appassionata
Sonata 23 is a war horse. There are literally 3-5 dozen versions online from older versions Schnabel (much too fast) to Brendel and Horowitz (quite staid) Kissin Gilels Schiff Goode and others. This one has superb recording. It is live and one can feel the tension with the audience. It is exceptionally clean and not exceedingly fast. You can hear the nuances that lay buried in the ear with the speedsters. She has wonderful rubato moments and the phrase to phrase dynamics are exceptionally well done. Importantly it is very exciting to hear though you know every note; it appears fresh as I feel it is new, modern interpretation. Congratulations Lilya. I hope to hear you in concert in Boston.
***** Even among all Beethoven sonatas on the market, this one stands out
The disc is a product of Germany's K&K label, which specializes in live performances held in historically significant, if not acoustically appropriate, locations. Here they manage both. The Castle Church of Bad Homburg offers a fine ambiance for piano music in general and for Zilberstein's muscular, dynamic style in particular.
The disc offers the first half of a live concert whose date is localized only to October 2007; the second half was devoted to music of Brahms. At 52 minutes the program is short, but it is complete in itself, and one wants to hear the other disc if only to find out whether Zilberstein can sustain the intensity level from this half.
Zilbertstein has managed to devise fresh, fully realized interpretations of these two sonatas - no small feat, especially in the case of the ubiquitous Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ('Appassionata'). Hear Zilberstein's exquisite shaping of the work's brooding opening page. The Beethovenian short-short-short long motif that plays such an important role in binding the music together is introduced in the shadows, but soon enough emerges as an exclamation with sufficent force to propel the main theme through its numerous harmonic transformations.
The level of tension in the entire sonata is remarkable; even the middle movement seems to see the with repressed energy. The early Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 2, No. 2, is equally strong, with a unique rhythmic conception of the main theme.
Just sit and listen: even among all the Beethoven sonatas on the market, this one stands out.