Beethoven: The Complete Piano Works
Artamag (4 January 2020)
COMPLETENESS, review by Jean-Charles Hoffelé
Tirimo, who loves completeness as proved by his very perfect
cycle of Schubert’s Sonatas for EMI, put down on disc not only the Sonatas but in
fact the entire work of Beethoven for solo piano.
It is no secret that the natural timbre of Martino Tirimo is
one of the most beautiful among today’s pianists, “piano without hammers”, deep and
ample sound that never saturates the instrument, polyphonic clarity and keen sense
of interior voices. This classic balance is used in Beethoven to erase moods and
allow the music to be heard first and foremost.
Tirimo first chooses the royal balance of a sound which
magnifies the expression, amplifies it, gives it a harmonic base where everything
sings. It is not the Beethoven of moods that guide him, but rather the Beethoven
at the centre of the efflorescence of new Viennese music which is the absolute
contemporary of Schubert: the emotional intensity of the late Sonatas, with an
amazing ‘Hammerklavier’ of controlled power, which weaves many links with the late
It is an overwhelming lyric journey which crowns a unique
complete set, the only one in fact since the Alfred Brendel set for Vox is less
complete and whom Martino Tirimo can look into the eye without blinking.
And now, let Hänssler offer him to record the Concertos!
Gramophone (December 2019)
Focus issue, review by Jed Distler
a major recorded achievement
a pianistic parallel to Otto Klemperer
scorching and stinging Hammerklavier fugue
Tirimo explores this body of work in order of composition
(so far as can be ascertained), yet will occasionally stray from chronology to
ensure good programming sense. One encounters intriguing juxtapositions, where
Beethoven the uncompromising artist gives way to Beethoven the practical populist
knocking off a minuet for quick cash. Tirimo’s succinct annotations serve as a
vivid musical and contextual guide to Beethoven at the piano, from the 12-year-old
composer’s remarkably assured C minor Variations, WoO63, to his valedictory Diabelli
Variations and Op 126 Bagatelles.
Tirimo favours expansive tempos…Consequently, listeners accustomed to the early
sonatas transpiring with Schnabel’s hurling brio or Richard Goode’s dry wit will
likely find Tirimo relatively austere by comparison, especially in the scherzos and
finales. Yet he justifies and sustains such deliberation in several respects.
For one, Tirimo almost always propels the music forwards by virtue of a sense of
rhythm that is solidly centred yet never rigid, helped by an appealing tendency to
heighten up beats at certain junctures. A striking and perhaps extreme example of what
I mean can be found in Op 27 No 1’s second movement. Here Tirimo’s conception of
Allegro molto e vivace offers a pianistic parallel to Otto Klemperer at his sober
extreme: unyieldingly slow, yet devastatingly specific and anything but dogged.
This analogy similarly befits Tirimo’s handling of the woodwind-like interplay in
Op 31 No 3’s Scherzo.
Furthermore, Tirimo’s scrupulous attention to Beethoven’s subito dynamics and
unpredictable accents illuminates the intricacies and subtleties of the composer’s
essentially linear aesthetic, not to mention the pianist’s astute voice-leading and
crystal-clear textures. Such an approach proves revealing in lesser-known works such
as the harmonically surprising C minor Allegretto and the ‘easy’ G major Variations,
WoO77 (Tirimo’s impeccably matched runs and embellishments). One also should take
note of the pianist’s assiduous cumulative power and variegated articulation throughout
the Eroica and Diabelli variation sets, the 32 Variations in C minor and the sweeping
Les adieux Sonata finale.
Tirimo also proves more ambidextrous than many Beethoven practitioners in regard to
a strong left-hand presence. Consequently, bass lines emerge in sharper and shapelier
profile than usual, which is an asset to the late sonatas. Notice, for example, the
uncommon clarity of the rapid, wide-spanning arpeggios in Op 90’s first movement,
the hushed figurations in Op 110’s opening and the powerful polyphonic execution in
Op 111’s exposition. Like Annie Fischer, Charles Rosen and Freddy Kempf, Tirimo is
one of the few pianists to make Beethoven’s precise detached and legato articulation
directives audible in Op 109’s second movement. He also addresses the Op 110 fugue and
Op 111’s large-scale designs and carefully worked-out tempo relationships with care.
The profoundest sonata slow movements may reach their emotional boiling temperature
in the manner of Arrau, yet Tirimo’s long-lined concentration and sense of proportion
are gripping on their own terms.
Comparable thought and consideration extends to pieces that others casually toss off.
The nobility and gravitas of Tirimo’s C major Polonaise, Op 89, for example, could hardly
contrast more with Julius Katchen’s upbeat swagger. The plaintive ‘Für Elise’ becomes a
dark lament, while the shorter Bagatelles evolve from quips to monologues.
Collectors seeking a one-pianist solution to the complete Beethoven option may
understandably choose Buchbinder’s more conventional orthodoxy (Teldec) as the safer
bet. However, those who are interested as much in Beethoven’s creative process as in the
ensuing end results should give Tirimo’s fastidious and mindful artistry its due.
Hänssler’s excellent engineering and the pianist’s informative notes add further value
to a major recorded achievement.
Fono Forum (January 2020)
Recommendation of the month, review by Ingo Harden
Tirimo’s pianism is without question first class… a model of
Not infrequently one comes across renderings [by Tirimo] in which the music
seems to develop out of itself without any demonstration of power, compelling in the balancing of
its sound, gratifying consistency of tempo and inner tension. In this way, for example, the early
F-minor Sonata or equally the ‘Tempest’ Sonata can easily withstand every competitor.
Piano News (October 2019)
Review by Carsten Dürer
the outstanding achievement of this box of the complete solo piano
works of Ludwig van Beethoven offers a curtain-raiser to the coming Beethoven year that
surely not many will be able to emulate.
Piano Journal (December 2019)
Cover issue and interview by Murray McLachlan
The musical world is about to celebrate the 250th anniversary
of Beethoven in 2020, and this present issue of Piano Journal looks forward to this
by including a special interview with the wonderful Beethovenian Martino Tirimo. Tirimo
has recently completed the Herculean feat of recording the complete piano works of
Beethoven in 16CDs, and his interview is extremely revelatory and inspiring.
Martino Tirimo has undertaken many significant challenges over
the years, including Schubert Sonata cycles, performances of the complete works of
Chopin, and also enormous projects on disc that have included the complete solo works
of Debussy and Mozart. His latest marathon is unique in the 21st century: a complete
cycle of Beethoven’s solo piano works on 16 CDs, available in a single box set!
This huge project took several years to complete and was released in the autumn of 2019.
Tirimo has been a passionate, fervent advocate of Beethoven’s
music for all of his long professional career. His new recorded cycle was released
on the Hänssler Classic label and is a deeply impressive legacy
CLASS (December 2019)
Review by Manuela Neumann
This unique collection is released by Hänssler Classic just in time
for the Beethoven 250th anniversary in 2020, and includes some surprising pieces
which are rarely heard and rarely recorded.