AllMusic Review: Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas, Vol. 2 -
This is the second volume in a Beethoven piano sonata cycle on the audiophile Russian label Caro Mitis. A new set of Beethoven sonatas by a little known pianist on a small label might seem less than a necessity, but thus far the interpretations offered by the young Ukrainian-born pianist Igor Tchetuev have been distinctive enough to warrant exploration even for listeners who already have several sets of Beethoven sonatas to choose from. Tchetuev's readings are all extremely restrained. The performances are as far as can be imagined from those of the old Russian school. In the opening movement of the Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, "Pathétique," he lets the slow introduction and the mode mixture in the main Allegro theme make their own points. The top dynamic level is not high and nothing gets pounded or distorted. Yet you couldn't say that Tchetuev is oriented toward Beethoven's Classical side, either. The extreme precision of his playing tends to give Beethoven's music an episodic feel, to turn each movement into a carefully told story. And he has obviously thought out each piece in every detail. The Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28, "Pastoral," doesn't sound very pastoral, but of course it wasn't Beethoven who called it that, but a later publisher. The work in Tchetuev's hands turns into an odd kind of quiet fantasy, with great emphasis on details of figuration and decoration whose motivic links to one another emerge with sometimes startling clarity. The little two-movement Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp minor, Op. 78, offers an ideal illustration of his approach. He plays the tiny slow introduction in a completely unassuming way, and all the emphasis is on the motivic and texture structures of the two short movements. He brings out the way the movements are linked by call-and-response devices, and there are many absorbing small details. Listeners who like the fist-shaking, barricade-storming Beethoven may be nonplussed by Tchetuev's playing, but it's ideally suited to an audiophile sound environment, and it provides plenty to absorb over repeated hearings.
Audiophile Audition Review: BEETHOVEN: Complete Piano Sonatas, Vol. 2 -
The results are darn near irresistible. Bring on Volume 3! Very highly recommended!
Volume 2 of this so far excellent series from Russian label Caro Mitis just confirms my impressions of the first installment of this cycle – it’s a hands down winner on all levels! Igor Tchetuev continues his survey of the Beethoven Sonatas with Nos. 8 (Pathetique), 15 (Pastoral) and 24, and his mastery of these seminal works is just as much in evidence as the first time around. I’m convinced that with time, this series of recordings will stand as a reference along with the great ones. While some have criticized his occasional lack of exuberance as a negative, I see it more as restraint – flamboyance needs to be applied judiciously to these works. A clear case is the almost measured approach he takes to the rondo of the Pathetique sonata; while many would fly dizzyingly though this movement, Tchetuev takes a less frenetic pace. While his unhurried approach may not suit everyone’s tastes, it is no less true to Beethoven’s intentions, and the superb pianisms that spring forth from his perfectly tuned Fazioli concert grand are a delight to listen to.
As with everything I’ve heard from Caro Mitis, the recorded sound is remarkably good. Once again, the use of Meitner and Polyhymnia equipment and personnel have served the music well, and the sound is to die for, especially when utilizing the SACD multichannel layer. Very few discs can offer as good an illusion of a piano occupying a real space, and when the pianist is every bit the match for his muse and the recording team, the results are darn near irresistible. Bring on Volume 3! Very highly recommended!
"Diapason", March 2008: Ludwig van Beethoven Complete Piano Sonatas, vol. 2 -
Le second volume de l'intégrale des sonates de Beethoven qu'entreprend Igor Tchetuev confirme l'excellente impression laissée par le premier (cf. na 549).
On y retrouve le jeu élégant, transparent, un peu onirique, qui distingue le jeune Russe (né en 1980) au sein d'une discographie pourtant chargée. Certains trouveront peut-être que la sonorité des aigus est un brin clairette (elle contraste cependant harmonieusement avec des basses plus mates) ou que le premier mouvement de la "Pathétique" manque quelque peu de tension et de poids. Il est vrai que Tchetuev ne s'inscrit pas dans une vision épique ou courroucée de ces sonates, privilégiant une approche plus esthétique que théatrale. Cela ne veut pas dire que les contrastes sont gommés ou même amoindris, mais qu'ils se fondent dans des lignes toujours raffinées.
Certaines pages sont irrésistibles, par exemple l'Adagio de la Sonate na 8, léger comme un songe, et cantabile comme rarement. On apprécie aussi tout particulièrement le galbe de l'Andante de la Sonate nO 15, la simplicité élégiaque du Rondo qui suit ou le coté génialement improvisé du finale de la Sonate na 24. A la fois inventif et sobre, Tchetuev offre une lecture équilibrée, pleine de tendresse, qui a la pureté d'une approche apollinienne sans en avoir la froideur.
SA-CD.net reviews: Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas Vol. 2 -
This is the second volume in Tchetuev's planned sonata cycle, and very fine it is - his musical personality is now become a little clearer which can help us know what to expect in later volumes.
The recording is as superb as on volume 1, with the complete absence of any ringing on the higher registers above forte, a kind of sonic 'blown highlights', to use a photographic analogy. This SACD is a bit shorter though, under 58 minutes.
Similarly the good points about Tchetuev's playing: the superb voicing of chords, excellent passagework, wide dynamic range without banging, and consistently fine choice of tempi, are all present. So too is one facet which was hinted at in volume one: his avoidance of excitement. This isn't really a criticicm, because he can and does play powerfully and dramatically (as in his superb Appassionata), but occasionally, as in the finale of the Pathétique, I do slightly miss a hint of flamboyance.
I was comparing his reading of the Pathétique with Pollini's from a few years ago - one of the Italian's better Beethoven recordings. Listening to the two one would never guess Tchetuev is less than half Pollini's age - his sounds very much the older man's performance. It's not dissimilar to Barenboim's first (EMI) recording, slightly mature beyond the soloist's years.
But I don't think Tchetuev is yet in danger of turning into a humourless junior Alfred Brendel (who plays Schubert much better than Beethoven in my view), or heaven forbid, Claudio Arrau at his dullest. But maybe he should inject a little more youthful exuberance in the next volume.
Tchetuev's choice of generally unhurried tempi might be one reason, though he never sounds too sedate, and is always interesting as a result of his sheer pianism. His performance of the slow movement is superb, flowing, warm, with some idiomatic rubato, and those ideally voiced chords. I like this interpretation a lot, but I'll be turning to other pianists as well for this work.
He's back on top form for the Pastoral sonata, this really is excellent, though maybe others, like Barenboim on DG, have injected a tad more wit into the quirky central passage of the Andante. His reading of the finale is especially fine.
He's similarly good in the 11 minute op.78 sonata, in two movements: Kovacevich on EMI also does this one very well, but here Tchetuev chooses a slightly faster tempo for the opening movement, and the whole performance is enjoyable.