Author Topic: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas  (Read 441830 times)

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Offline bioluminescentsquid

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3660 on: June 22, 2017, 08:38:16 AM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSDq_w4W_KA

Interesting recording by, of course, Wim Winters (I think he's a generally interesting clavichordist, especially the liberties he takes with tempos and articulation, and I haven't hit on any duds yet from him). I see that there is a mini-debate in the comments section about the perhaps "demonstratively slow" (words of Gerald van Reenen) tempo.

I'm similarly conflicted. It's certainly very refreshing at this tempo, and quite nice to see elements such as broken chords and long runs not treated as just background musical wallpaper for the voices in the foreground, but actually counterpoint-like harmony. Voices are equal here, but some are equaler (in a good way, of course - this isn't Renaissance polyphony). But sometimes the whole thing stagnates and I find myself more anticipating the next notes to come than enjoying the music. (Even moreso in his Mozart).

But this is über-romantic Beethoven, full of rubato and perhaps Hamletian hesitation, hints of sturm und drang. Most recordings of this piece sound comparatively Galant, I think.

Need a few more listens to fully comprehend.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2017, 08:45:16 AM by bioluminescentsquid »

Parsifal

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3661 on: June 22, 2017, 08:46:10 AM »
But perhaps we'lll get lucky with a cheap reissue by a revamped Naïve!  :)

Naive, Arcana, Astree, mystifying how the same recordings cycle through the alphabet soup of sporadically bankrupt French labels. In any case, if it does come back, don't hesitate. They go out of print again in a flash. I managed to get Badura-Skoda's Schubert set on Astree now it's OOP again. Same for the Festetics Haydn set.

I blame Hollande.

Offline George

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3662 on: June 22, 2017, 08:51:40 AM »
At the moment the complete set is available from Japan, issued by Denon I believe. Still expensive though... ($ 260 / € 235)



But perhaps we'lll get lucky with a cheap reissue by a revamped Naïve!  :)

Q

For 9CDs, that's about $29 per CD for XRCDs, so not that bad.
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Offline bioluminescentsquid

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3663 on: June 22, 2017, 06:38:14 PM »
At the moment the complete set is available from Japan, issued by Denon I believe. Still expensive though... ($ 260 / € 235)



But perhaps we'lll get lucky with a cheap reissue by a revamped Naïve!  :)

Q

I have files - you can message me if you want them. This is actually the only Beethoven set I own; beautiful pianos and playing, but tempos are a bit too brisk for my liking. On the Galant-to-Romantic scale, this one's firmly in Galant classicism.

Offline Pat B

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3664 on: June 23, 2017, 11:14:33 AM »
Is this the one you guys mean: https://www.amazon.com/Claudio-Arrau-Beethoven-Piano-Sonatas/dp/B004TWOXI0/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498131932&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=Arrau+DVD+Beethoven+Op.+111

I ask because the dates they give are 1970 and 1978, not early 60s.

There are 4 commercially-available videos of Arrau in op.111:

1960, from the BBC, now on ica (http://www.icaclassics.com/legacy-dvd/claudio-arrau-van-cliburn)
1964, from Canada, now on VAI (http://www.vaimusic.com/product/4388.html)
1970, from Paris, on EMI (amazon B000092T5J) and Euroarts (amazon B00HS7C0D8)
1977, from Bonn, also on Euroarts, the one you linked

These are all distinct from his numerous audio recordings, which for extra confusion include a different 1960 performance released on ica.

I recently received the 1970 but haven’t watched it yet.

There is an excellent Arrau discography here.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2017, 11:16:09 AM by Pat B »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3665 on: June 23, 2017, 11:27:06 AM »
but tempos are a bit too brisk for my liking.

And this from someone who likes Koopman 😄

Re galant/romantic, this is interesting and complicated. The thing that stops me rushing to agree with you is the impression I have that PBS really enjoys playng up all the asperities of the old instruments.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2017, 11:31:36 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Holden

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3666 on: June 23, 2017, 02:09:55 PM »
There are 4 commercially-available videos of Arrau in op.111:

1960, from the BBC, now on ica (http://www.icaclassics.com/legacy-dvd/claudio-arrau-van-cliburn)
1964, from Canada, now on VAI (http://www.vaimusic.com/product/4388.html)
1970, from Paris, on EMI (amazon B000092T5J) and Euroarts (amazon B00HS7C0D8)
1977, from Bonn, also on Euroarts, the one you linked

These are all distinct from his numerous audio recordings, which for extra confusion include a different 1960 performance released on ica.

I recently received the 1970 but haven’t watched it yet.

There is an excellent Arrau discography here.

The one I meant was the EMI 1970 version shown as the third choice above. I took a bit of a guess at the date.
Cheers

Holden

Offline Pat B

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3667 on: June 23, 2017, 08:56:05 PM »
The one I meant was the EMI 1970 version shown as the third choice above. I took a bit of a guess at the date.

That’s what I figured you meant since the earlier 2 were not on Classic Archive. But thanks for the clarification.

4 different performances on video is unusual!

Offline Amore di Viola

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3668 on: June 23, 2017, 09:31:03 PM »
Thanks for sharing all the great comments to my post, which is already two pages old! In my tortoise style, I'll work through them. To my astonishment, I found Penelope Crawford on Spotify.
I guess I won't find my way out of the LvB labyrinth anytime soon...

Offline bioluminescentsquid

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3669 on: June 25, 2017, 06:50:42 AM »
And this from someone who likes Koopman 😄

Re galant/romantic, this is interesting and complicated. The thing that stops me rushing to agree with you is the impression I have that PBS really enjoys playng up all the asperities of the old instruments.

Touché. Although he's fallen a bit out of favor these days, I haven't listened to his Forqueray or Buxtehude in aeons!

In a way, though, Badura-Skoda is Koopman, who also revels in the pungency of his harpsichords. But I don't know how to place Koopman on the Galant-Romantic scale, although I remember comparing Koopman's playing to Mannerist art.

Offline Brian

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3670 on: June 26, 2017, 06:03:07 AM »
I guess I won't find my way out of the LvB labyrinth anytime soon...
Lucky you!!

Offline Brian

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3671 on: September 14, 2017, 07:24:59 AM »


Imagine if I passed these recordings to you as MP3s - the sound quality is pretty much that level, taken from live broadcasts which clearly weren't meant for an album release (or, in the case of "Moonlight", possibly not meant to even be listened to). Imagine I said they were some incredibly obscure youngish pianist - let's say the very talented but almost totally unknown Daria Rabotkina.

What would you think then?

Would you hear how badly recorded "Moonlight" is, and how slow and drawn-out the opening is, and just skip it?

Would you think that the "Appassionata" was marked by illogical dynamic adjustments, marred by occasional chords played louder or softer for no clear reason? Would you think that the pianist was using the live environment to test out any old idea that popped into her head, the equivalent of an artist doodling on a cocktail napkin? Would the slightly ponderous, and occasionally inconsistent, tempos bother you?

Would you find "Les Adieux" to be substantially better, with an especially poetic introduction, but still a little "safe" and cool in the first movement? Would you hear the fleet finale and think, "hey, this pianist does have some promise"?

Would you be gratified, when Op. 111 begins, to notice both seriously improved sound quality - almost up to modern standards - and seriously great pianism, driving forward a hard-charging first movement that finally delivers on the flickers of promise from the earlier performances? If so, what will cross your mind when you see that the Arietta lasts over 20 minutes? Will you think "hey, she's kinda getting away with it" all the way through the "boogie" variation, then - in the first of what I often call the Magic Variations - realize that the Celibidachian tempo is oozing down into some kind of attempt at eastern meditation on each note? Does it feel like it keeps getting slower? Does that sound cool, or annoying? And then there are seven minutes left to go? Aren't some of the trills weirdly aggressive?

Isn't it cheating to speed up so dramatically - the tempo practically doubles - when the main theme returns at about 15:40?

Would you charitably assume the pianist's tone must be warmer, more luminous than the constricted live sound (apart from Op. 111) captures?

Would you think it's weird that Daria Rabotkina (or whomever) was releasing a live album where they didn't even edit out all the coughing between movements?

Would you, overall, think anything more than "hmm, there is a glimmer of interest here, perhaps someday she will do a studio album with Brahms rhapsodies or Schumann, and that might be worth sampling"?


How much clothing is the emperor wearing?
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 07:27:47 AM by Brian »

Offline Todd

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3672 on: September 14, 2017, 07:47:10 AM »
How much clothing is the emperor wearing?


Or how many contractual obligations is he fulfilling?






Evgeny's first solo recording in a while.  Comprised of live recordings made between 2006 and 2016.  Unlike prior live Kissin recordings, these were not made by DG or recognizable production companies, but instead rely on "archival tapes produced under various technical conditions", to borrow from the liner notes.  Private recordings are included.  Sound is not SOTA.

That out of the way, the set opens with Op 2/3, from 2006.  If Kissin doesn't play the Allegro con brio particularly fast, he plays it with admirable control and clarity, as far as the sound lets one hear, and the Adagio also displays admirable control, and, not unexpectedly, some strong left hand playing.  Kissin plays the Scherzo expertly, with nicely varied dynamics and clean articulation and a sense of fun, and a just plain spiffy trio.  The Allegro assai is dashed off with a sense of fun, and what sounds like one slip.  A good start, if not a version for the ages.  The WoO 80 Variations, recorded in 2007, and even less hot sound, comes next.  Kissin dashes off the theme and mostly speeds through the variations, and, when need, like in the sixth, eighteenth, and twenty-ninth variations, rattles the walls with awesome, supremely controlled power, as if Kissin is subconsciously saying to other pianists "Behold, ye puny mortals!".  The Moonlight sonata, from 2012, follows and the very poor sound hurts the performance.  The opening movement sounds atmospheric enough, the Allegretto is a nice enough bridge, and then Kissin lets rip in the Presto agitato.  In some ways, it is preferable to his earlier studio recording, in some ways not, sonics chief among the nots.

The second disc opens with Op 57, from the Concertgebouw from last year.  Kissin plays up the contrasts.  He starts very slow and quietly, and in the slower passages he tend to accentuate those elements, but then in the faster passages he speeds up and he plays with awesome power and control.  Sonics are sub-par for 2016 vintage, but they capture the dynamic range well enough.  It must have been thrilling to sit in the first few rows.  Kissin plays the Andante con moto at a steady, slow, more adagio like pace, and the evenness makes it sort of soothing in all but the third variation, while he tears into the final movement, belting out the loudest passages without resorting to mind-numbing speed.  It's not the best Appassionata I've heard, but it points to an evolution of style in Kissin's playing.  Op 81a, from 2006, follows.  The pianist doesn't really break any new ground interpretively.  He does the slow and somber opening and more vibrant remainder in the opening movement, and a good job of a forlorn second movement, but it is in the final movement where he shines, with energy aplenty.  Not one for the ages, but one for an entertaining evening.  The twofer ends with Op 111, from 2013.  Kissin plays the Maestoso fast with somewhat restrained left hand playing, then plays the Allegro con brio ed appassionato at a snappy speed, with more potent left hand playing, though the sub-par sound weakens the impact.   The second movement is slow, and starts with a slow, but not especially profound Arietta in the first half, though the back half is calmer and more serene, the vocalizing notwithstanding.  The first two variations are not the most elevated, though they sound nice, and Kissin plays the third variation with less drive and power and syncopation than one might expect beforehand, though it is okay.  The "little stars" are curiously slow and stiff and not especially elevated, yet there's a calming effect.  The chains of trills are unsurprisingly well executed, and as the playing builds toward the coda, the playing becomes a bit more accelerated and hard, losing a lot of the more typical transcendent sound, at least until the beginning of the last set of trills, which Kissin plays more gently, while the accompanying melody gentler yet.  If he doesn't deliver one of the more profound Op 111s, he delivers a passable one.

So, a mixed bag of a recital.  In the event anyone needs proof that Evgeny Kissin has chops, this set demonstrates that.  He's evolved as an interpreter over the decades, which makes the prospect of future recordings, of whatever repertoire, quite enticing, or perhaps something to avoid, according to taste.

Sound varies and is not up to snuff for a modern, major label release.  That written, it is not hard to appreciate Kissin's playing, and the limitations are less evident through headphones than speakers.  Here's to hoping future DG issues are either proper studio efforts, or A-list technical talent records future recitals and concerts.
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Offline Todd

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3673 on: September 20, 2017, 05:41:59 AM »



You like slow late Beethoven?  If so, Olivier Chauzu might just be the guy for you.

Op 101 starts with a slow Allegretto ma non troppo, bordering on Andante at least, and maybe Adagio.  Yet it holds together and flows and sounds wonderfully deliberative, if not transcendent.  The march is slow and heavy, but again Chauzu makes it hang together very well.  The Adagio again is slow and not especially transcendent, and the fugal playing is on the slow, emphatic, heavy side, and quasi-orchestral in scale.  In some ways, the playing lacks most of the traits I prefer, but somehow it captivates.

Chauzu plays Op 106 more slowly yet, taking just shy of forty-nine minutes.  While I appreciate a variety of approaches and tempi for the work, that's on the generally too long side.  Some really long versions work for me, Eschenbach coming to mind, but it's rare.  This is a rare recording.  Chauzu is slow across the board, too - by movement, 12'45", 3'01", 20'+, 13'+.  The first two movements sound quasi-orchestral and move forward with immovable musical force.  (Others may say they sound lumbering.)  They do sound slow, but that doesn't matter.  It's unabashedly big and slow.  And clear.  Chauzu prefers to reveal details.  The Adagio sounds cool and detached.  It doesn't really evoke a sense of desolation or anger or darkness or anything.  It's somewhat clinical, though also attractive.  The slow Largo and comparatively slower fugue sound heavy yet clear, quasi-orchestral yet as transparent as chamber music. 

This is not a disc to love.  It's not a disc to put on to just enjoy.  It's a disc to listen to in order to follow individual voices and to be enveloped by a big, detailed sound.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Mookalafalas

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3674 on: September 22, 2017, 06:48:22 PM »
Maybe this is old news, but I just stumbled on this and was surprised--a super-bargain complete set (came out in August)

It's all good...

Offline Marc

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3675 on: September 24, 2017, 03:45:18 AM »
Maybe this is old news, but I just stumbled on this and was surprised--a super-bargain complete set (came out in August)



Old news or not: thanks anyway!
Just ordered it.

:)
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3676 on: September 24, 2017, 04:21:15 AM »
Old news or not: thanks anyway!
Just ordered it.

:)

Budding completism?  ;)
Tiden læger alle sår,
heldigt nok at tiden går.

Offline Marc

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3677 on: September 24, 2017, 06:20:00 AM »
Budding completism?  ;)

I want it all and I want it NOW. :P

Nah, Kovacevich is just too interesting to let go for this price.
Hit and miss, I guess, but still interesting.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3678 on: September 24, 2017, 08:26:50 AM »
I want it all and I want it NOW. :P

Nah, Kovacevich is just too interesting to let go for this price.
Hit and miss, I guess, but still interesting.

I can't explain this very well, but he's got a way of bringing out the way the music can function at the level of the sounds, the almost physical impact of the repetition of sounds, rather than by melody or voicing. Like in the Rite of Spring.  It's an approach which is interesting to think about in the sonatas which Beethoven wrote when he was deaf - you can imagine him feeling the vibrations.
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #3679 on: September 24, 2017, 01:39:20 PM »
Nah, Kovacevich is just too interesting to let go for this price.
Hit and miss, I guess, but still interesting.

Yes, interesting I agree.

The interpretation is on the aggressive side, reinforced by a very close miking. You are not left in doubt, that the piano is a percussion instrument.
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