Yes, very nice.
Given comments you have made about having little time to look at new stuff because, among other things, of needing to prepare for your competition, may we take it that some of the pieces you've recorded recently are in your competition repertoire?
Allow me a little constructive criticism on the first movement. No more than nitpicks really, concerning timing.
If you look at the first repeated section, you are inserting a spurious gap, equivalent to a quarter-note rest, between the 1st time bar and the bar before it. You are probably tempted into this by there also being a quarter-note rest at the beginning of the 2nd time bar, but I feel the octaves, C A, should be considered as upbeats to the G following, so there should be no gap between the A and G there. You make a similar undesirable gap between the 2nd time bars and the next section, between the F# and E octaves.
Also there is an awkwardness 5 bars before the aforementioned 1st time bar which produces a rhythmic discontinuity. I think it may be the result of making too much of the trill. There should be no dwelling on the trill, nor any gap between it and the following note, since this trill note is really an upbeat to the next bar. You play this much better the 2nd time than the 1st, but even the 2nd time there seems to be a slight hiatus before moving to the next bar (there is a slur marked from the E trill to the following D which you are breaking). You also seem to be starting the trill before you play the left hand chord. My edition (Schirmer, Bülow-Lebert 1894/1923) has an annotation to the effect that this trill should "be conceived simply as an inverted mordent with after-beat (quintuplet), and begun on the principal note", with which I agree whole-heartedly, as there really isn't enough time to play much more than 5 notes here, unless you want to improvise a cadenza
. If you think of the overall beat pattern as being in one rather than three, you want to pretty well keep that rhythmic continuity going (despite the editorial "ten"
marking attached to the A half-note).
In the development section I feel you are using a little too much pedal in the passage starting in the 8th bar (where there are 3 bars the same and then 4 bars the same), and similarly elsewhere. Although my edition does have pedal marked, spanning the 1st 3 bars, again the next 4 bars, and then the next single bar, I feel this is excessive since (as Eddy will confirm
) it makes the staccatos impossible, which are marked in the left hand on the 2nd and 3rd beats. Interestingly, in this 16-bar passage, these explicit pedal markings are not
shown for the 1st 8 bars, only for the next 8 bars, and the same is true where the passage comes again in a different key a bit later on.
Now to the second movement. Gorgeous, I love slow movements, but I do feel you're overdoing the slowness. It's only Andante
, not Adagio
. It can flow a lot more without risking the 16ths becoming rushed. My edition's metronome marking is dotted quarter = 56, in other words eighth = 168, but as you play it, it sounds more like 120.
In the third movement there is a devil of a passage where the right hand plays groups of one 8th plus two 16ths against triplets in the left hand. This is, IMO, quite a bit more difficult than if the right hand simply had to play continuous 16ths, but you seem to have conquered this well. At least I think you have. Your dynamic balance here favours the right hand so much over the left that it's difficult to hear whether the triplets are just right. Be confident, don't try to cover them up lest they not be!
I'm amused by the annotation in my edition, which comments: "All efforts towards an exact mathematical proportioning of the accompaniment triplets to the duple rhythm of the theme will be in vain. Only assiduous practice with each hand will lead to the requisite independence." It then refers to another page (last page of 1st movement of Op 54) where a method for practice is discussed. There it says, somewhat philosophically: "As any truth can attain to permanent recognition only after a painful struggle with dissonant and opposing errors, in like manner, for acquiring certain mechanical accomplishments, the expedient is to be recommended ... to exhaust all possible ways of 'how not to do it'. A player, unable so far to control different simultaneous rhythms as to play 4 notes in the right hand to 3 in the left independently of each other, should practise in alternation the following examples until he involuntarily hits the sole remaining 'right way'." The examples all show the RH playing straight 16ths, while the LH plays groups of either (a) one 8th plus two 16ths, or (b) two 16ths plus one 8th, or (c) a syncopated rhythm of one 16th, one 8th, one 16th.
I'm not absolutely convinced the mathematical approach is necessarily in vain. I reckon it would work well in a very slow tempo. For instance, I've been trying to tackle that passage in the middle section of Esplá's Levante No 9, where the RH plays triplet 4ths initially against straight 4ths in the LH (easy enough) but then against 8ths in the LH (much harder), and because the tempo is slow it just has to be right (and on your recording you make it sound natural and effortless - I'm jealous!). The way I practise it is to treat the faster of the two as the primary rhythm and then fit the slower ones in somehow, so where it's 3 against 2, this is easy: I feel the 3, and stick the 2nd straight 4th in halfway through the 2nd triplet 4th. But I can't play the other passage by feeling the triplets, I have to feel the 8ths, and having worked out that the 2nd triplet 4th has to come just after the 2nd 8th, and the 3rd triplet 4th just before the 4th 8th, I can just about pull it off.
At the slow speed I reckon the mathematical approach wins. At a faster speed like in these Beethoven sonatas, I guess you could play it very slowly mathematically at first and then speed it up, but of course at high speed the math stops working, and I guess the better approach is to train the LH to run on autopilot while you consciously focus on playing the main theme with your RH. Is that how you did it?