Review: Beethoven Piano Sonatas

03.22.13
Jonathan Biss
The Irish Times

By Michael Dervan

American pianist Jonathan Biss, who is recording the Beethoven sonatas at the pace of one disc a year, has a good way with words. The fact that Beethoven's Sonata in E flat, Op 7, and the Moonlight Sonata are both sonatas, he says, "seems roughly as probable as a St Bernard and a dachshund both being dogs." Biss's playing is every bit as directly to the point, whether it's limning the atmospherically rippling stillness of the Moonlight's first movement, the sheer brio that fires up the E flat Sonata, or the winding, benevolent fluidity and cheeky humour of the Sonata in F sharp, Op 78. And Biss takes the surprise-packed, switchblade ride of the Fantasy, Op 77, in his stride, too.