No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13
The Knife is posting the sonatas in random order, so today is the Pathetique, one quarter of the way into the sonatas. Famous for it’s potentially sugary sweet adagio cantabile, it’s actually bookended by two more ferocious movements, brimming with structure and hooks.
Glenn Gould is well known for his precision and driness in many of his recordings, from Bach to Prokofiev, but here his adagio is perfectly poised, ardent and beautifully paced. One of the many pleasures of Glenn Gould is reading the several grumpy reviews on Amazon, and often in the Penguin Guide, by people who can’t cope with his individuality and deviations from their norm.
Wilhelm Backhaus is almost a caricature of impregnable teutonic solidity, not least in his appearance. His sonata collection is a bargain, depending on where you look, and his Pathetique, like Gould’s possesses an ineffable calm beauty at its centre.