Saturday, December 11, 2010 On 2-CD Beethoven set, Stewart Goodyear's 'Hammerklavier' is 'spectacular'

[Beethoven: The Late Sonatas; Stewart Goodyear, piano; Marquis Classics MQCL 81507 (2010)]

The African-Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear's performances have been featured on AfriClassical several times. He has just recorded a 2-CD set, Beethoven: The Late Sonatas; Stewart Goodyear, piano; Marquis Classics MQCL 81507 (2010). The time is one hour and fifty-nine minutes. At the moment, is selling the 2-disc set at the sale price of 16.99, and Merchants offer it for as little as 14.43.

“Late Beethoven for the punk era? Maybe not, but young Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear's interpretations of Beethoven last four piano sonatas are forceful and intentionally almost inexpressive, and they're somehow of a piece with his shaved head (which is all to the good). Goodyear deserves all kinds of credit for thinking out his own interpretations of these works from the ground up. He takes everything at a brisk clip, and at some points this can come as quite a surprise: the giant Adagio sostenuto slow movement of the Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major, Op. 106, 'Hammerklavier,' despite the fact that Goodyear in his own booklet notes finds 'screaming sobs' in the music, verily breezes by and comes in at under 15 minutes (on many recordings it pushes 25). As with any really unusual interpretation there are strong points and weak points, and the 'Hammerklavier' is among the former. In many cycles this giant work seems to stand by itself, a chill monument in stone that sharply contrasts with the more lyrical tone of the other late sonatas. Here, with all the fast movements pushed hard, the 'Hammerklavier' is the apotheosis of them all, and the shorter works seem to explore one or more of the issues it raises. Goodyear's performance of this most difficult of all of Beethoven's piano works is spectacular.”

“A native of Toronto, Stewart holds a Masters Degree from the Juilliard School of Music studying with Oxana Yablonskaya. He previously studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with Leon Fleisher, Gary Graffman and Claude Frank.” “Known for imagination, a graceful, elegant style and exquisite technique, Stewart Goodyear is an accomplished young artist whose career spans many genres—concerto soloist, chamber musician, recitalist and composer.”

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