Sunday, September 2, 2012

In review--Perpetual Motion


Javier Perianes (Piano)
Beethoven Moto perpetuo (perpetual motion)
Harmonia Mundi

When I desire to hear the softer side of Beethoven, I listen to his piano sonatas.  Think Moonlight Sonata which these days, ends up on new age and relaxation CDs.  Spanish pianist Javier Perianes performs four of Beethoven’s sonatas and the musician focuses on the perpetual motion implied in these compositions.  Yet, the opener Sonata no. 12 (Marcia Funebre), first movement, pauses and reflects or at least it sounds that way coming through my laptop speakers.  The liner notes cite that the compositions all end with moto perpetuo (a rapid succession of notes).  If you want to hear an example, listen to the fourth movement, Allegro of Sonata no. 12.

However, my concern revolves around the relaxing qualities of the sonatas, and even with the rapid succession of notes that end each composition, calmness envelopes, even with the most rapid passages.  We shouldn’t expect another Moonlight Sonata, but expect haunting nocturnal beauty nonetheless.  Perianes plays with hush tones and channels Beethoven’s melancholic moods.  While I enjoy hearing German musicians perform Beethoven’s work, hearing a Spanish pianist feels lighter.  The dynamics between loud and soft still exist, but so does a lyrical interpretation.

My favorite piece is the third movement, Allegretto of “The Tempest” sonata, which I first heard Glenn Gould perform on the soundtrack for Thirty-Two Short Films about Glenn Gould.  You will hear perpetual motion on this piece and dynamics that leap off the piano’s keys.  Although I would never accuse Beethoven of over exuberance, here the composer comes off as a jolly giant.  Overall, the recording relaxing me while also keeping alert so I can complete my work.  In fact, I’m listening to the recording as I type this review.  I highly recommend Javier Perianes’ recording, (and not just this recording).

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