Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Vladimir Ashkenazy & Beethoven

No. 318  of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Tuesday BlogIt can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast318


I’m surfacing from my summer hiatus with our “Firfth Tuesday” quarterly montage.

For this third montage for July, we conclude a three-part survey of soviet composers and performers with a set of Beethoven piano sonatas performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy, who left the Soviet Uniuon for the West in 1963.

Ashkenazy’s family moved to Iceland in 1968 where, in 1972, he became an Icelandic citizen. In 1978 the couple and their (then) four children (Vladimir Stefan, Nadia Liza, Dimitri Thor, and Sonia Edda) moved to Lucerne, Switzerland. Their fifth child, Alexandra Inga, was born in 1979. As of 1989, Ashkenazy resides in Meggen.

The set of sonatas featured today are part of a larger arc where we explore the entire corpus of Beethoven piano sonatas, so there is no specific or ulterior motive in selecting these in particular.

This is not our first post proposing Ashkenazy – we noted in a Tuesday Blog from a few years back that he is heard today mainly as a conductor and not as a pianist. However, his discography as a piano soloist is immense, from J.S. Bach to Shostakovich with major incursions into Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin.

I own a 10-CD collection of the complete Beethoven sonatas by Ashkenazy; I believe these are from the mid- to late 1970’s so these are analogue recordings, digitally remastered and re-issued by London/Decca in the early 2000’s.

Ashkenazy revisited some of these sonatas in the digital age, with mixed critical reaction. At the top of his game, as an Amazon review states, Ashkenazy brings a passion into the playing (as well as a technical mastery) that brings these sonatas alive. I don’t mind Glenn Gould, but Beethoven needs not be played in a passionless, mathematical manner.

I think you will love this music too

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