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Reviews: Interview with Beethoven - Vestard Shimkus

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Reviews: 1

Review by Fugue November 23, 2011 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
My goodness, this young man (born in 1984) can play! He begins with his own "EU Variations," a piece to celebrate Latvia's (his birthplace) entrance into the European Union. The main theme comes from the last movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, which has been the traditional theme of the EU. He subjects it to all sorts of amazingly virtuoso variations. Parts of it sound as if it would keep a duo busy, much less a single pianist! He follows it up with Sonata Op.2 No.3, which he plays with great vigor and elan. The concluding piece is the mighty "Hammerklavier," Op. 106. This is easily one of the most thrilling performances I have ever heard. I recently received Peter Takacs' set, so I had a ready SACD comparison. Overall, Shimkus is a far more impetuous player who is not content to let the music speak for itself--every note and phrase gets attention. He employs an enormous dynamic range and demonstrates jaw-dropping technique. Tackas' is a fine performance, but it must yield in bravura and imagination to Shimkus' version. Some listeners might find that Shimkus is a bit too energetic--not me! Picture Richter's muscularity, Volodos' sheer virtuosity, and Pogorelich's dreamy/poetic side (before he went insane or whatever happened to him!), and you have Shimkus.

The sound is also extraordinary. His piano is recorded a bit closer than Takacs' but in a more reverberant environment. The rear channels contain perhaps a tiny bit too much of the direct sound, but it's not objectionable. Overall, his Steinway piano is captured with thrilling presence and power.

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