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Filippo Gorini - Beethoven: Sonatas Op. 106 & 111 - Gramophone

Two years ago it was the Diabelli Variations; now 24-year-old Filippo Gorini is scaling scarcely less Himalayan peaks. And I find it hard not to cut-and-paste from my review of his previous disc (10/17). His playing is once again technically irreproachable, tasteful and mature. Yet once again it is not inclined to follow Beethoven to the outer extremes of risk-taking or spiritual exploration. I certainly don’t want to fall into the ‘how dare he?’ syndrome, especially when the outer movements of the Hammerklavier display such compelling energy, drive and sweep. But I cannot but feel that the Scherzo is a little on the sane side, while the Adagio sostenuto, finely paced though it is, neither scales the heights nor plumbs the depths.

In Op 111 the first movement is once again consummately musical, though arguably a little over-integrated, its drastic contrasts smoothed over rather than exposed. The Arietta poses a bigger problem, because Gorini here ignores Beethoven’s L’istesso tempo markings. Thus his first variation is faster than the theme, the second is a good deal faster than the first, and he slams on the brakes for the third. He may be far from alone in taking these options but the effect is to destroy any sense of accumulating pressure before the dam breaks. Not only that, but in the third variation he goes so far towards equalising the long and short notes that the innocent ear might suppose they were actually notated as equal in length.

None of this is to say that this well recorded disc does not deserve to open more doors for the richly gifted young Italian. He may even return to these works in the future with interpretations that earn him a place in the pantheon. I just wish he didn’t seem so determined to reach for that status so soon.

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Gramophone
01 April 2020