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Daniel Barenboim: Beethoven's Complete Piano Sonatas is the work of a mature artist / Financial Times

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Pensive playing touches hidden depths and stretches the music for expressive effect

During the lockdown Daniel Barenboim said he had more time to play the piano than for 50 years. One of the outcomes is a new recording of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas, plus the late Diabelli Variations, to mark the composer's 250th anniversary.

This is music that has followed Barenboim throughout his long career. He played his first cycle of Beethoven's sonatas in public at the age of 16 and this is his fifth complete recording of them, each successive recording neatly documenting his thoughts about the music at different decades of his life.

The new set is self-evidently the work of a mature and thoughtful artist. The playing is pensive, on the slow side, soft-edged, often short of Beethovenian fire. Where Igor Levit's recent recording drives forward breathlessly at white heat, Barenboim finds extraordinary amounts of elbow room, stretching the music this way and that for expressive effect.  EPA/Maurizio Gambarini

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