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Ludwig Van Beethoven – MDG 947 1698-6

Piano Sonata F Minor op. 57


Carl Czerny – MDG 947 1698-6

La Ricordanza. Variations on a favorite theme by Rode op. 33


Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Sonata op. 57 (Appassionata)

F minor / fa mineur / f-Moll

  • Allegro assai
  • Andante con moto
  • Allegro ma non troppo

Carl Czerny (1791-1857)

La Ricordanza. Variations on a favorite theme by Rode op. 33

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Sonata D 958

C minor / ut mineur / c-Moll

  • Allegro
  • Adagio
  • Menuetto. Allegro – Trio – Menuetto da capo
  • Allegro

Jin Ju, piano

„Ein klarer, präziser Anschlag verbindet sich mit einem subtilen, differenzierten Spiel, das Virtuo- sität nicht zu einem Showeffekt macht, sondern in den Dienst der Musik stellt … Das kommt beson- ders noch dem Final-Allegro zu- gute, dessen musikalischen Zeich- nungen dank der beispielhaften Aufnahmetechnik glänzend zur Geltung kommen.“ (Pizzicato) Beethoven, Schubert, Czerny: Jin Ju setzt auf jedes Werk ihren eigenen Stempel.“ (HR)


“her playing is extraordinarily clear & luminous which is helped by playing one of the best in- struments captured on disc and the tangible engineering … As already mentioned, the sound of the piano in terms of the play- ing, the instrument itself and
the engineering are all outstand- ing and of the highest possible beauty. Enthusiastically recom- mended.“ (

Les Clefs ResmusicaFace à l’opulence des enregistrements pianistiques de toute nature on pourrait aisément glisser vers un manque d’enthousiasme dommageable à notre mission d’information. Heureusement, on en est parfaitement convaincu, les chefs-d’œuvre sont faits pour être propagés. La pianiste chinoise Jin Ju compte déjà un copieux palmarès révélant ses nombreux et brillants états de service. Des récompenses prestigieuses (concours Tchaïkovsky de Moscou, Concours Reine Elisabeth de Belgique…) ont été relayées par des exécutions dans d’innombrables salles célèbres du monde entier, en récital ou avec orchestre parmi les meilleurs. Ses concerts ont été plébiscités et souvent retransmis sur les radios et les télévisions internationales. Elle a enregistré (CD et DVD) les Etudesde Debussy, des œuvres  de Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin et Liszt et a obtenu un succès incroyable en Chine avec sa gravure du Concerto pour piano de la Rivière jaune avec l’Orchestre symphonique de Macao. Jin Ju  a enseigné au Conservatoire Central de Pékin, à Manchester, à Inola et ailleurs encore.

MDG lui a confié la responsabilité d’enregistrer ce programme sur un grand Steinway à la mi-janvier 2011. Le merveilleux et impérissable discours que Beethoven insuffle à la Sonate Appasionata op. 57 en fa mineur (1804-1805) retrouve sous ses doigts, non  seulement l’agilité, le brillant et l’inventivité mais aussi ce discours moins construit que généré par l’ensemble de son être. Carl Czerny, élève de Beethoven, pianiste, pédagogue et prolixe compositeur viennois, futur maître de Franz Liszt, est le bienvenu avec ses Variations sur un thème favori de Rode, un violoniste français. Cette Ricordanza (1820) est une partition divertissante d’une douzaine de minutes que popularisa le célèbre Vladimir Horowitz. Franz Schubert conclut cette livraison avec sa Sonate en ut mineur D 958 (1828) dont bien des traits l’apparentent à son grand et vénéré modèle Ludwig van Beethoven. Dans chacune des ses trois partitions, Jin Ju parvient à garder le cap, à respecter l’écriture sans jamais rien sacrifier à un supplément interprétatif contribuant à faire d’elle une authentique et incontournable pianiste de notre temps.

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Site review by Polly Nomial December 16, 2011
Performance:  Sonics (MC):

Although this disc has no competition on SACD for the Czerny and practically none for the Schubert (an expensive stereo-only disc), there are of course several for the Beethoven on SACD and for both sonatas a myriad of alternatives on RBCD.

On SACD, Jin Ju’s main competition in the Appassionata must count Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas Vol. 1 – Igor Tchetuev and Beethoven: Complete Piano Works Vol. 6 – Brautigam; both are highly individual and dramatically different, not least because of the different instruments employed (Brautigam of course is using a fortepiano). As far as timings go, Jin Ju opts for something close to Brendel’s last account for the first & second movements and Gilels acclaimed performance of the third movement. At no time do the tempi approach the close-to-breathless (but excitingly so) of Brautigam but neither does the first movement spread out as it does in Gilels’ hands.

Timings though, can hide a great deal of a performance, yet there is little that Jin Ju hides here – her playing is extraordinarily clear & luminous which is helped by playing one of the very best instruments captured on disc and the tangible engineering. The repeated quavers nag insistently and if one cavils that the second subject on first presentation is too relaxed, when it reappears all doubts vanish. Of course, a Steinway piano – no matter how good condition it is in & the recording quality – can not rival the clarity of sound afforded to Brautigam in the passages of dense chords in the lower registers but through great slight-of-hand, Jin Ju nearly manages the same sense of attack that Brautigam can employ without preventing all the harmonic and melodic details from being audible. Gilels manages a similar feat but then takes nearly half as long again as Jin Ju, never mind Brautigam. The “free” arpeggiated sections will likely decide listeners as to whether Brautigam goes too close to the edge or not for comfort – certainly Jin Ju, whilst exciting, always sounds perfectly in control.

As when re-hearing pre-HIP orchestral accounts of the Beethoven symphonies, one can feel that “slow” movements don’t have the courage of their convictions and neither go for a truly flowing tempo or one where musical phrases are in constant danger of fragmentation. So it is the case here; despite the surface beauty, there is neither the repose that Gilels bought to the music nor the flow that Brautigam manages. The finale is taken at a quick tempo but not one that can sound harried in the wrong way as Schnabel’s otherwise magnificent account demonstrates – here is one place where Brautigam definitely reigns supreme for those looking for a lightening finale. Jin Ju’s judicious choice of tempo while keeping the adrenalin level high, allows for all the details from the score to be registered by the ears whilst the eyes are closed. More naturally than earlier in the sonata, Jin Ju applies a very natural sense of rubato and voice leading that adds greatly to the musical journey. Somewhat controversially, after a thrilling coda, the last three chords are not separated by the pedalling – which may jar in some ears.

The Czerny has no competition on SACD and – Horowitz apart – precious little on other media; even if it did, modern competition would have to be very special indeed. Throughout the more outwardly virtuosic passages, one can hear the smile that must surely have been on Jin Ju’s face and it is reflected in that of the listener, so delightful and coquettish is her touch and phrasing. Wonderful stuff and some of the best piano playing issued this year.

As one might expect Jin Ju’s Schubert is just as musical as the Beethoven and Czerny that came before. Her timings are conventional in all except the last movement where she markedly more relaxed than her more established competitors such as Brendel, Perahia, Pollini & Richter. Nothing escapes the control of her fingers though and Jin Ju steers a fine course between the Beethovenian storm and bitter-sweet beauty so particular to Schubert in both the opening movements. The repose in the slow movement is most affecting yet when the accompaniment adds movement underneath the theme, there is no sense of either haste or tardiness. Like all the above mentioned competitors, Jin Ju manages to make the “throwaway” Scherzo & Trio sound more profound than it appears on paper and the finale gains from the slower than usually adopted tempo. The major gains are twofold: the textures are clearer (a particular benefit to the left hand passage work & chordal sequences) and dynamic contrasts achieved sound more natural as the ear has fractionally more time to adjust.

As already mentioned, the sound of the piano in terms of the playing, the instrument itself and the engineering are all outstanding and of the highest possible beauty.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Copyright © 2011 John Broggio and

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