consistent control of everything: technique, sound, texture. But it’s much more predictable. It’s not even that it’s passionless: every variation has a certain individuality, but he seems more content to let Beethoven speak for himself, than Korsantia did.
Take the 3rd variation, very understated changes of register; both Korsantia and imagine sforzandos as if they were implied by Beethoven and Perlemuter has nothing jump out of the texture. The 4th variation, the right hand is virtually non existent, and it becomes an etude for the LH. In the 7th variation, written szforzandos are understated, he reads these as natural high points in a phrase rather than a sudden explosion of sound. In the 10th variation he creates a melody from the first 16thnote of each beat which isn’t much of a stretch, but makes it a far tamer variation than how I hear it.
Now in the 8th variation, this quality is such an advantage. I’ve spoken before in each previous post about the sound I’m after, and consistency is perfect in this place. I also love the shaping he gets in the left hand melody. It’s so hard to have a melody ofall quarter notes that still has direction and shape.
The 11th variation is so consistent that we don’t really have any staccato notes even though many are clearly marked as such. In the 12th variation, I admire his ability to so lightly shape the descending chords, but the interplay between piano and forte is so understated, you’d barely know that Beethoven wrote different dynamics here.
Several posts back, I spoke about different approaches to Fugues…Clearly Perlemuter is all about showing off the fugue subject wherever it is. I don’t mind this, but in episodes, where there’s no subject whatsoever, I find he quite underplays everything which I’m less of a fan of; something has to be the star. I really like the sensitivity to the shaping of the melody in the last ‘post-variation’; amongst all the right hand filigree, the melody is very beautiful.
"Modern performers seem to regard their performances as texts rather than acts, and to prepare for them with the same goal as present-day textual editors: to clear away accretions. Not that this is not a laudable and necessary step; but what is an ultimate step for an editor should be only a first step for a performer, as the very temporal relationship between the functions of editing and performing already suggests." -Richard Taruskin, Text and Act