Gramophone Award; Music Web International: outstanding.
With just two discs released so far, Ronald Brautigam’s cycle of Beethoven’s piano music has already become firmly established. From the very start the reviews have been glowing, describing Volume 1 (BIS-SACD-1362) as ‘not simply refreshing, but exceptional and revolutionary’ (klassik.com) and hailing it as the start of what ‘could be a Beethoven piano-sonata cycle that challenges the very notion of playing this music on modern instruments, a stylistic paradigm shift.’ (Fanfare).
Brautigam’s performances of the early sonatas of Op. 1 and Op. 2 (Volume 2, BIS-SACD-1363), met with a similar reception, and were described as ‘revelatory’ (The Times, UK) and as ‘lifting us to heights that one thought were unattainable on the fortepiano’ (Classica-Répertoire).
Alongside with Brautigam’s playing, his instrument – by master builder Paul McNaulty – and the quality of the recordings – by Ingo Petry – have also been singled out for praise. These three join forces once more, in the Sonatas Op. 7 and Op. 10, composed by a Beethoven who at 26 had become the talk of all Vienna, and whose services as a performer, composer and teacher were avidly sought after by the aristocracy.
The Sonata Op. 7, at the time nicknamed Die Verliebte, was dedicated to one of Beethoven’s pupils, the Countess Barbara Keglevics, with whom he may have been in love. Be that as it may – the sonata’s strong focus on emotional and psychological effects has made many consider it a milestone in Beethoven’s development: the first Romantic work he produced.
The young composer’s desire to break away from the classical mould is also evident in the three sonatas Op. 10, most particularly in No. 3, with its highly romantic and personal second movement.