If you mix the compelling aspects of her mentor, Alfred Cortot, with the influences that Idil Biret found in the playing of Wilhelm Kempff, you will have the key to this Seventh volume of Beethoven’s complete sonatas. It is one of the few cycles that does not have a common stylistic approach throughout, each work taken as a single entity. Few pianists point so strongly to the influences of Haydn in the Sixth, the crispness in the outer movements resulting in a final Presto full of cheeky fun. The Twelfth is a very different matter, for it came from a period when Beethoven was moving into the great sonatas that marked his final period, and the soloist has to embrace in one work so many differing styles and moods. The simplicity Biret brings to the opening paragraph signposts a performance that has been carefully thought through, the unhurried scherzo and a understated Marcia funebre not sounding at odds with the sparkling brilliance of the closing Allegro. The disc ends with a named sonata, the ‘Pastoral’, though Biret does not let that title modify her strong and vibrant account. I particularly like her brisk second movement, though others may find it too staccato. The very brief scherzo leads to Biret’s dancing final Rondo. The 2003/2005 sound is very good.
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