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Posted September 8, 2013
Imagine playing Beethoven's piano sonatas with the speed of Schnabel (whom I never cared for since he had nothing else to offer), the right hand clarity of Ashkenazy, the humor of Brendel, and the jazziness of Kovakevic (formerly Bishop). Add a left hand with an unparalleled gift for voicing, counterpoint, and a rich repertoire of launchings from chords into the continuing music varying from extra sostenuto to extra staccato. You now have HJ Lim's rendition of the "complete" (actually 30 of the 32 as #19 and #20 are missing) Beethoven p.s.'s.
This set is not for those who aren't already familiar with the p.s.'s and the tempos Lim chooses for many of the movements will alienate more than a few aficionados. However, this may simply be due to the fact that recording tempos have generally decreased over the past half century or more. Schnabel correctly insisted that LVB wanted the tempos fast, as Beethoven himself was a notorious speed demon at the keyboard.
I also believe it's a good thing to challenge one's listening skills. Notice all of Lim's extraordinary (and often unique) musicality in addition to her speed. I guarantee you will feel like you are hearing some of the piano sonatas for the first time! GSL