Chandos’s second collection of Beethoven Sonatas from Bavouzet contains the two Op. 27 Sonatas (the second of which is the Moonlight), the three Op. 31 Sonatas (the second of which is the Tempest), Sonatas Op. 28 (Pastoral), Op. 53 (Waldstein), and the unnamed Sonatas Op. 22, 26 and 49. Written between 1795 and 1805, they represent the composer’s middle period. The earlier works retain a classical elegance, but this disappears in the Op. 31 set. By the time of the Waldstein (and its rejected slow movement, recycled separately as the Andante Favori), the composer has decided to use the piano sonata as a platform for making some big statements.
Unlike some pianists, Bavouzet recognises that a different approach, even a different touch, is required from one work to the next. The accents in Op. 22 for example are sharp and briskly classical, whereas the accents in the finale of the Moonlight Sonata and the first movement of the Tempest are fuller, more in keeping with sturm und drang. His pedaling in the first movement of the Moonlight (the trickiest aspect of that music) is perfectly judged, and he finds a tender quality in a slower than usual rendition of the Allegretto.
Overall, Bavouzet’s Beethoven features emphatic bass lines and aggressive sforzandi, which work well for this period (when the threat of deafness was encroaching and the composer was becoming a truly eccentric individual). Sound is clear and present.