Author Topic: Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas  (Read 4088 times)

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Offline AberyClark

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Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas
« on: November 20, 2012, 05:39:29 AM »
I downloaded the cheap Amazon version of the Schnabel recordings http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002KHUEOI/ref=s9_simh_gw_p340_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0S0CZENH02WB9AH8ZW23&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846. Although in MP3, I really love these performances. What would be an upgrade in sound of the complete Sonatas. I think Schnabel plays with a dark, haunting touch (maybe its due to primitive recording). Any similar style that has a little better fidelity with similar feel? I read the Kempff mono version is very good as well (some do not like the stereo version). I'm not a big fan of modern, bright, slick piano I have heard with some early digital classical recordings.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 06:21:25 AM by AberyClark »

Offline springrite

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Re: Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2012, 06:03:57 AM »
Have you tried the Annie Fischer? It's one of the best set that I have heard. I am not a big fan of the Kempff, less so the digital one. I can understand how many people like the mono Kempff set. I like it quite a bit. But I like the Fischer better.
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Offline AberyClark

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Re: Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2012, 06:14:24 AM »
I will research the Fischer version. I know her recordings are highly regarded. BTW, what release of the Schnabel version is considered best? On Amazon, many knocked the mp3 version. However, I do not think it sounds so bad for a historical transfer compressed to MP3 (I'm not a big fan of MP3, but at $1.99 I thought it was a good buy to get familiar with the complete package).

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2012, 06:32:33 AM »
There's no Beethoven cycle by any pianist, but someone will knock it, you know.
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2012, 06:50:16 AM »
I will research the Fischer version. I know her recordings are highly regarded. BTW, what release of the Schnabel version is considered best? On Amazon, many knocked the mp3 version. However, I do not think it sounds so bad for a historical transfer compressed to MP3 (I'm not a big fan of MP3, but at $1.99 I thought it was a good buy to get familiar with the complete package).
There is a whole thread just on Beethoven sonatas you will find useful. There is a link in there from Jens that summarized all the known cycles by decade (though I don't know if up to date). This may be of use as well.

It is rare that one cycle will satisfy on every sonata. Personally, I'd recommend the mono Kempff and Backhaus based on what you wrote. I think they both are in the vein of what you are looking for. The Lewis is another one that you might like (more recent).

Re Schnabel - Naxos is often considered the best, but best to hear different versions yourself if you can.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2012, 06:53:38 AM »
It is rare that one cycle will satisfy on every sonata.

I'd say that it is rare that in any one cycle, each of the elements is the Best in Class. I think that factoring that in, though, I have a number of cycles (to speak more largely than of LvB sonatas) which satisfy perfectly well.

I could certainly sign on to the idea that it is not every cycle that will satisfy on every sonata, to be sure.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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Offline AberyClark

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Re: Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2012, 06:59:22 AM »
For some reason, I thought NAXOS releases were more along cheap laser light type css. The more I learn, the label releases some highly regarded works.

Offline Cato

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Re: Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2012, 07:56:42 AM »

It is rare that one cycle will satisfy on every sonata. Personally, I'd recommend the mono Kempff and Backhaus based on what you wrote. I think they both are in the vein of what you are looking for.

I think the Backhaus Opus 111 is heavenly: an early stereo performance (I believe) is still available on London/Decca in a complete set.



This one has a 1950's mono performance:

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Offline AberyClark

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Re: Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2012, 02:52:52 PM »
I've been comparing different samples on iTunes (mostly the Moonlight Sonata). Some recordings seem to be in a different key?

Offline PaulSC

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Re: Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2012, 03:03:35 PM »
I've been comparing different samples on iTunes (mostly the Moonlight Sonata). Some recordings seem to be in a different key?
A recording in a different key is HIGHLY unlikely. But if you're listening to iTunes store samples, the bits you're hearing could be drawn from different parts of the full piece. Some iTunes previews start at the beginning of the track, others seem to start 30 or 60 seconds in…
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Offline Brian

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Re: Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2012, 05:14:46 PM »
I've been comparing different samples on iTunes (mostly the Moonlight Sonata). Some recordings seem to be in a different key?

The only times where this would ever be the case are if the performer is:
(a) using a piano built during Beethoven's lifetime, which would have been tuned differently, or
(b) being recorded either a long time ago or by terrible sound engineers!

As an example of (b), the very first recording of Shostakovich's Ninth Symphony, from back in the 1940s, has aged so badly it's now in the wrong key.

Offline 5-String

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Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2012, 09:10:02 PM »
Here's another suggestion, Yves Nat's cycle.
It was recorded in France between 1953-1955 in glorious mono and it still sounds very good today. The engineer was Andre Charlin who managed to capture the sound of Nat's piano beautifully.
I have the original 8 cd set (made in Germany) which is now out of print but this is also available as a part of the Yves Nat Ses Enregistrements box set together with the rest of Nat's recordings.
Totally worthy of checking it out.
~Chrys

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Offline AberyClark

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Re: Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2012, 07:02:01 AM »
I just picked up a Ashkenazy CD box set (complete cycle) on London Records (ADRM-425-590-2) and quite pleased. Most was recorded in the 70's (with a few recorded in 1980/81). I listened to CD 5 (No. 14. 15 and 26-op 31). The sound quality was really good. From what I have heard, I don't think I would like any "brighter" version. I have a few other Ashkenazy recordings that I enjoy as well. This set has a very "british" feel to it. You may think i'm nuts. I can sense a different tone in recording made in Britain (or Europe) compared to US recorded material. Maybe more intimate sounding. Just a personal observation.

Offline Holden

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Re: Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2012, 12:09:14 PM »
There are a number of cycles that would do easily for beginners in that they are not too idiosyncratic but still contain some great music making. One of my top recommendations would be the Annie Fischer cycle but it is very expensive. Cheaper alternatives could include:

Barenboim EMI
Kempff Mono (DG - not the Regis)
Brendel (first cycle done for VOX though the other cycles are also good)
Ashkenazy
Claude Frank
Jeno Jando

I've only mentioned those that I have heard. One cycle that intrigues me but is certainly expensive is by the NZ pianist Michael Houston. Some excellent interpretations by a man who knows how to play Beethoven.
Cheers

Holden