Beethoven Piano Sonatas, Op 10, No 1, Op 22, Op 26 and Op 81a (‘Les Adieux’) Jonathan Biss

01.29.12
Jonathan Biss
The Sunday Times

By David Cairns

Jonathan Biss’s projected recorded cycle of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas promises, on the strength of this first instalment, to be the finest since Stephen Kovacevich’s in the 1990s. The performances – brilliant, precisely thought, yet spontaneous-sounding – are a joy. I also like the way Biss has chosen to begin with four of the least often heard sonatas, then shows how wrong we are not to celebrate them, for in his hands they are a continual surprise and delight. Not least satisfying is the witty, exhilarating B flat, Op 22, which Beethoven was particularly pleased with. (“The sonata is in apple-pie order.”) The disc is rounded off with a moving account of the unconventional but irresistible “Les Adieux”.