Juli 09
International Record Review
  • CD Beethoven

Everything about this release is distinguished. For one thing, it features as realistic a reproduction of a piano as I have ever encountered. The instrument is simply brought into one´s room with an accuracy of timbre, breadth of dynamic range and a compelling immediacy that even in this age of sonic wizardry is not commonplace. Of course, this would be a minor consideration were the performances less than satisfying, but this is certainly not the case. Clearly this young artist has a command of style and structure not always encountered from one who is only 33 years old. The playing is technically secure, even in the most demanding passages. Moreover, Cédric Pescia´s tone is never clangy or brittle, even in the loudest moments. Nor is there any hint of mannerism, a particularly striking virtue in light of the fact that he has studied with Daniel Barenboim and Pierre-Laurent Aimard, both of whom could be at times either heavy-handed or rhythmically lose in their approach to Beethoven. Most of all, what comes through in these readings is Pescia´s command of line and structure, his ability on the one hand to convey the many rhapsodic moments in these works that stamp them as “late” Beethoven, while also underscoring a formal integrity that links them to his “middle” period.

Of course with so many fine recordings of this music available, one has every reason to wonder how the work of such a young artist compares to that of older, often admirable ones. His approach is less heavy-handed than Arrau´s, his tone more tonally attractive than Kovacevich´s and his technical facility more polished than Schnabel´s. Indeed, the one pianist who Pescia most  recalls is Pollini. Both play without exaggeration, display an awareness of the long line and project an intense emotional response to the music without ever spilling over into excess.

For anyone looking for a single disc featuring these works (Pollini´s recordings are part of a two-CD set which includes Opp. 101 and 106, Schnabel´s single-disc recordings are sonically antiquated though musically superb), Pescia´s readings are highly recommended. Brief but uncommonly intelligent insert notes are an added virtue.