Hardly any composer is more closely associated with the piano sonata than Beethoven. His thirty-two sonatas form a nigh unparalleled canon, remaining to this day one of the greatest (and most rewarding) challenges a pianist faces. Sonatas were predominantly played in intimate settings, be it at home by skilled amateurs, or by professional musicians in social gatherings. Beethoven could thus employ them as a laboratory of ideas, often surpassing himself in daring and innovation.
The three sonatas on this recording (representing the Early, Middle and Late periods of Beethoven’s creative life) are united by their key: C minor/major. Beethoven in C minor – his Fifth Symphony, the Third Piano Concerto, the Coriolan Overture – is often characterised by a dramatic, stormy, high intensity and by a relentless, sometimes demonic drive. Turned to major, C could be the bright, merry key of the First Piano Concerto, the Piano Sonata No. 3 or the First Symphony – but not only: in Sonata No. 21, ‘Waldstein’, and the second movement of Sonata No. 32 the key becomes malleable in Beethoven’s hands, ranging from mysterious to brilliant to profound and philosophical.
– Boris Giltburg
“[Giltburg's] virtuosity is beyond question, but it is what he does with it that makes such a difference.
There is emotional power here, together with apt tonal weight, but there is also a sensitive inwardness
that reveals subtle expressive facets.”
Ludwig van Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas form an unparalleled canon, remaining one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges for pianists to this day. These three sonatas represent Beethoven’s Early, Middle and Late periods but are united in the key of C – minor, for the dramatic and stormy intensity of mood in the Pathétique, and major for the radiant and poetic Waldstein sonata. In his sonata Op. 111 the cycle is completed with music of utmost dramatic tension and the deepest spirituality.
Listen to an extract from Piano Sonata No. 8, ‘Pathétique’: III Rondo: Allegro
Watch a video of part of the recording session for this disc
About the Artist
Boris Giltburg was born in 1984 in Moscow and has lived in Tel Aviv since early childhood. In 2013 he took first prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition, having won second prize at the Rubinstein in 2011 and top prize at Santander back in 2002, subsequently performing around the world. Notable débuts have included a South American tour in 2002 (and every season since), with the Israel Philharmonic in 2005, the Indianapolis Symphony in 2007, a tour of China in 2007, and an appearance at the BBC Proms in London in 2010. In 2014 he began a long-term recording plan with Naxos.
Boris Giltburg's debut disc for Naxos
Recording session: ‘Aveu’ and ‘Promenade’
The three works on this recording are collections of short pieces, strung together and forming a cohesive whole—a form which Schumann himself invented, developed and brought to perfection. Davidsbündlertänze (Dances of the League of David) was written after Schumann’s engagement to Clara Wieck, to whom he wrote, ‘If I have ever been happy at the piano, it was when I was composing these.’ Papillons (Butterflies) is the work of a youthful, unfettered imagination, and Carnaval is one of his most popular pieces, a display of both technique and emotion. Boris Giltburg, who took first prize at the 2013 Queen Elisabeth Competition, is one of today’s most exciting young pianists, lauded for his ‘massive and engulfing technique, supporting interpretations that glow with warmth and poetic commitment’ (Gramophone).
Listen to an excerpt from Davidsbündlertänze, Op. 6 Book Two - X. Balladenmässig, sehr rasch
“Giltburg can do charming, jaunty and yearning at the touch of a button,
all with a beautifully cushioned tone…”
– Sinfini Music ★★★★
“For brilliance and the requisite Schumann poetry Giltburg lacks nothing…”
– Audiophile Audition ★★★★
“Boris Giltburg’s…tempos are leisurely, which…allows the detail, voicing and inner breath of the music—all of which Giltburg explores superbly—to be heard and digested to the full. His tone is pure velvet, cushioned and almost vocal in quality with never a hint of harshness—and complemented here by excellent recording—and the phrasing is always eloquent”
– BBC Music Magazine ★★★★
“…Giltburg has the capacity to identify with and encapsulate the moods of each piece while artlessly crafting them into a shapely span.”
– Daily Telegraph (UK) ★★★★