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1972 saw the magnificent Vladimir Ashkenazy at “a new peak both in his playing and in his career,” says Christopher Nupen. Though the pianist had been reluctant to agree to perform in a television studio, Nupen and his crew arranged two recitals at the University of Essex and attended carefully to every detail, ensuring that Ashkenazy would be able to focus only on the music.
Both the Chopin recital and this all-Beethoven showcase were unmitigated successes, providing an invaluable look at one of our greatest artists at the peak of his powers. After speaking briefly about his evolving relationship with Beethoven, Ashkenazy plays two Beethoven sonatas: the perennial favorite “Pathétique,” with its exquisitely romantic Adagio and eminently hummable Rondo; and the late Op. 110, one of Beethoven’s final three sonatas, lovely and lyrical in the hands of this master interpreter.