City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

EIF 2015: Rudolf Buchbinder: Beethoven Piano Sonatas, Playfair Library, Review

By Barbara Bryan - Posted on 25 August 2015

Rudolf Buchbinder by Philipp Horak
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Playfair Library
Edinburgh International Festival
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Edinburgh International Festival
Rudolf Buchbinder (piano)

Situated in Old College, the Playfair Library is the most sumptuous environment for Rudolf Buchbinder to have chosen as his venue to perform Beethoven’s thirty-two solo piano sonata cycle. This is not the first time he has performed the sonatas in their entirety – he has in fact played them in forty-six cities. An aficionado of Beethoven’s piano works he has sourced and amassed a vast collection of the sonata scores, including first editions.

Playing on a Steinway (which has a less harsh base than a Bechstein) and performing from memory, Buchbinder has such an intimate knowledge and understanding of the nuances prevalent in this vast, unsurpassable collection of sonatas he can interpret the phrasing effortlessly. (Chopin wanted his pupils to play in virtual darkness so they could focus on the music without any distraction). The Sonatas are not being played in sequence and the four Sonatas in this performance were Sonata in G minor opus 49, no 1; Sonata in G major opus 49, no 2; Sonata in B flat major opus 22 (in which one could hear the influence of Mozart) and Sonata in F minor opus 57, Appassionata. I have never heard the finale of the Appassionata played with such speed, his dexterity was quite astonishing.

It was a wonderful recital. Buchbinder came over as a lovely, unassuming person with a huge talent. The sonatas have been performed on various dates since the 8th of August and the final trilogy of the cycle concludes on Wednesday the 26th of August at 5pm.

Ends Wednesday 26th August, 5pm at the Playfair Library. Ticket price: £25