Gramophone - January 2009 - Written by Jed Distler

Heart-thought and brain-felt playing from Jerome Rose on a gorgeous grand

Much as I enjoyed Jerome Rose's earlier audio versions of Beethoven's last three sonatas, these more recent (2008) live remakes on DVD are better. For one, the flexible acoustics distinguishing New York's Yamaha Artist Services Salon and the absolutely gorgeous concert grand placed at Rose's disposal add noticeable colour, resonance and breathing room to his interpretations. In turn, Rose obviously responds to these congenial conditions with more inflected, reposeful slower movements. For example, in Op. 111 the first movement introduction's downward suspensions (bars 11, 12, and 13) convey far greater tension and continuity.

Rose also makes effortless sense of the elusive tempo relationships binding Op. 110's concluding movement, and shapes the poetic opening movements of Op. 101 and Op. 109 with the kind of controlled freedom that defines what George Szell meant by how a musicain should "think with the heart and feel with the brain". This also applies to the Op. 111 Arietta's canny dynamic scaling, authoritative melodic projection and soaring long line. Occasional rapid runs and gnarly textures push Rose's seasoned technique to the edge, causing him to rush (Op. 101's finale, for instance), but that's what "live" is about.

The camerawork preserves an accurate visual record of Rose's body language at the keyboard, yet why don't we see any continuous footage that connects pianist to audience, or vice versa? Strangely, you only see applauding audience members via insert-like shots. A bonus feature offers Rose's thoughtful, detailed yet easy-to-follow verbal comments on the music.


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