Author Topic: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas  (Read 659433 times)

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Offline Florestan

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4100 on: February 23, 2019, 05:53:12 AM »

I'm not sure what is meant by "great ones".  All or most of them are great.



Yes.



Various sonatas for various reasons.  I may have posted on it before.

You know, I applaud this approach in the other thread, where it is entirely appropriate. In this one I find it unnecessarily supercilious --- I am here to learn and discover, not to showcase my alleged, yet inexistent, knowledge or moral superiority.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2019, 05:58:43 AM by Florestan »
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Offline staxomega

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4101 on: February 23, 2019, 06:11:07 AM »
It’s a very good set, and performing the slow movements fairly moderately is much more historically accurate (& potentially more effective). My main criticism of the set & feeling of 1 dimensionality comes from the dynamics and colours I think, his playing doesn’t seem to have the kind of differentiation and contrast of some other pianists. And he’s fairly metronomic but hardly the worst offender in that regard.

I can see that on the color and dynamics, but I didn't think he was that bad in this respect as that is something that would quickly have it on non consideration list and I did go back and forth on Goodyear's for some time. For instance on color this is one area where I feel like the very well loved Gulda Amadeo is lacking so it's one I'm personally not a particularly big fan of, as unpopular as this opinion may be. With some ~ 15 cycles complete/near incomplete and asking myself would I really want to revisit a cycle often (or even a few times if being lenient) I'm starting to be more stringent on my requirements for keeping something.
Edit- just to give some basis for where my tastes tend to lean for complete/incomplete these are the ones I would want to take with me to a desert island- Annie Fischer, Andrea Lucchesini, Backhaus mono, Rudolf Serkin, Eric Heidsieck and combination of Arrau's EMI/American Decca or Philips analog.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2019, 06:20:31 AM by staxomega »

Online Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4102 on: February 23, 2019, 06:58:49 AM »
aukhawk's comments above made me think about how the major sonatas are overplayed and considered echt-Beethoven, while the others are neglected and considered somehow inferior. So my question is: do you subscribe to the notion that only the great ones are truly worth hearing? do you have any favorites among the lesser appreciated, less frequently played and recorded sonatas? Which and why? (Okay, that's four questions, actually).

I find it all depends on performance, sometimes recordings capture my imagination. This one, for example, has op 14/2 and I love it, it really touches me.



And this op 22 by Pommier

<a href="https://youtube.com/v/RG2QfSC2J-Q" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://youtube.com/v/RG2QfSC2J-Q</a>
« Last Edit: February 23, 2019, 07:06:40 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline amw

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4103 on: February 23, 2019, 07:20:05 AM »
I just did. You do have a point, the latter sounds like a string quartet version of the former,  at least as far as the first 3 minutes of each work go.  :)

Now it makes me wonder: is is just coincidence or a conscious choice of Schumann?
I can't see how it wouldn't be a conscious choice—Schumann was after all married to one of the first & best known exponents of the Beethoven piano sonatas in the concert hall. (And had himself hoped to be one but it didn't work out.)

Quote

These are pretty good recordings btw.

Offline Florestan

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4104 on: February 23, 2019, 07:28:09 AM »
I can't see how it wouldn't be a conscious choice—Schumann was after all married to one of the first & best known exponents of the Beethoven piano sonatas in the concert hall. (And had himself hoped to be one but it didn't work out.)

An interesting idea to explore further. Many thanks for pointing me to a very strange beast --- Beethoven's Op. 31 / 3. I mean, a scherzo and a menuet in the same sonata? And am I alone in hearing thematic unity between the movements?

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These are pretty good recordings btw.

Thanks, I picked the first ones of my library that came under my mouse's click.  :)
« Last Edit: February 23, 2019, 07:37:58 AM by Florestan »
I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts. --- Rachmaninoff

Offline amw

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4105 on: February 23, 2019, 07:34:20 AM »
I can see that on the color and dynamics, but I didn't think he was that bad in this respect as that is something that would quickly have it on non consideration list and I did go back and forth on Goodyear's for some time. For instance on color this is one area where I feel like the very well loved Gulda Amadeo is lacking so it's one I'm personally not a particularly big fan of, as unpopular as this opinion may be.
I'd agree with that, although I still retain the Gulda set & think it has virtues despite that. Similar w Goodyear.

Quote
Edit- just to give some basis for where my tastes tend to lean for complete/incomplete these are the ones I would want to take with me to a desert island- Annie Fischer, Andrea Lucchesini, Backhaus mono, Rudolf Serkin, Eric Heidsieck and combination of Arrau's EMI/American Decca or Philips analog.
& to give a basis for my tastes, I would bring to the desert island Paul Badura-Skoda's Naïve Astrée period instruments set, Michaël Lévinas's Adès/Accord set & a bunch of individual recordings/volumes (Peter Serkin 27/28/29/30/31/32, Maria Tipo 3/21/30, Olga Pashchenko 21/23/26, Pi-Hsien Chen 27/32, Michael Korstick 15 + variations, András Schiff 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8, Paavali Jumppanen 1/2/3, etc)

which probably makes me a hipster of some kind, unfortunately

Offline Jo498

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4106 on: February 23, 2019, 10:58:37 AM »
Also it must be said from the perspective of posterity that the middle period sonatas were much more influential than the late ones, sometimes to a very obvious extent—compare 31/3/i to Schumann’s Op.41/3/i for example.

In the first movement of Faschingsschwank aus Wien, a Rondo, several episodes are supposedly paying homage to, I think, Chopin, Mendelssohn and Beethoven (and in the last episode the Marseillaise enters). I am still not quite sure which pieces are quoted, but I think the Beethoven homage is inspired by the Trio of the Menuet of op.31/3. Never thought about the string quartet, though.

As far as I am concerned, I like several supposedly "smaller" sonatas a lot, e.g. op.2/2 or op.14/2, even the "sonatina" op.79. And I am not that fond of a few rather famous ones, e.g. I don't like the Waldstein as much as I probably should. And about the  "funeral march" op. 26 I have the feeling that Beethoven should have written a few more variations, published it as a variation set and skipped the rest...  :P Although my least favorites are probably op.54 and op.22.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4107 on: February 23, 2019, 11:06:24 AM »
I don't like the Waldstein as much as I probably should.

Why are you supposed to like it that much?
I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts. --- Rachmaninoff

Offline San Antone

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4108 on: February 23, 2019, 11:44:09 AM »


BEETHOVEN  Piano Sonatas Op. 109, 110 & 111  Alexei Lubimov



I'm not entirely sold on the sound of the piano.  There is a dull somewhat muffled sound that at first I thought something was amiss with my speakers until I noticed that he is playing a period keyboard.

 
« Last Edit: February 23, 2019, 11:49:55 AM by San Antone »

Offline amw

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4109 on: February 23, 2019, 06:32:05 PM »
An interesting idea to explore further. Many thanks for pointing me to a very strange beast --- Beethoven's Op. 31 / 3. I mean, a scherzo and a menuet in the same sonata?
Definitely something Beethoven did on a few occasions—also the Piano Trio Op.70/2, another somewhat "underrated" work that's a personal favourite of mine (prefer it to the Archduke or Ghost Trios), the 1st and 8th Symphonies, the C minor string quartet Op.18/4...

Quote
And am I alone in hearing thematic unity between the movements?
I don't think so but I don't have any sources offhand that analyse the sonata in detail.

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4110 on: February 24, 2019, 03:27:12 AM »
Many thanks for pointing me to a very strange beast --- Beethoven's Op. 31 / 3. I mean, a scherzo and a menuet in the same sonata?

Yes, but note, that this scherzo is written in sonata form and contains no trio. So formally it is not a "true" Beethovenian scherzo. He just called it a scherzo in order to define the character of the music.
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Offline Que

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4111 on: February 24, 2019, 03:50:25 AM »
I'm surprised that amongst all recommendations on period instruments, Paul Komen (Globe) hasn't been mentioned...yet.  :)

Passionate, straightforward and rhythmically astute playing. Beautiful instruments. For some inexplicable reason the series was aborted after 5 volumes. Still plenty to enjoy, tough.  :) The albums are on Spotify and available as downloads.

On period instruments I also like Badura-Skoda, which I only know in digital form - eagerly awaiting a CD reissue....

Q
« Last Edit: February 24, 2019, 12:53:33 PM by Que »

Online Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4112 on: February 24, 2019, 04:30:04 AM »
I'm surprised that amongst all recommendations on period instruments, Paul Komen (Globe) hasn't been mentioned...yet.  :)

Passionate, straightforward and rhythmically astute playing. Beautiful instruments. For some inexplicable the series was aborted after 5 volumes. Still plenty to enjoy, tough.  :) The albums are on Spotify and available as downloads.

On period instruments I also like Badura-Skoda, which I only know in digital form - eagerly awaiting a CD reissue....

Q

Yes I tend to agree with you about this, I also like the way he's interested in exploiting and exploring the possibilities of the instrument too, he uses the asperities.
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Offline Que

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4113 on: February 24, 2019, 05:45:11 AM »
Yes I tend to agree with you about this, I also like the way he's interested in exploiting and exploring the possibilities of the instrument too, he uses the asperities.

Agreed.  :) His playing shows that the instrument is an important factor in the performance (and the composition).

The instruments he used are from the Edwin Beunk collection.

Q
« Last Edit: February 24, 2019, 05:48:35 AM by Que »

Offline staxomega

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4114 on: February 24, 2019, 07:22:59 AM »
I'd agree with that, although I still retain the Gulda set & think it has virtues despite that. Similar w Goodyear.
& to give a basis for my tastes, I would bring to the desert island Paul Badura-Skoda's Naïve Astrée period instruments set, Michaël Lévinas's Adès/Accord set & a bunch of individual recordings/volumes (Peter Serkin 27/28/29/30/31/32, Maria Tipo 3/21/30, Olga Pashchenko 21/23/26, Pi-Hsien Chen 27/32, Michael Korstick 15 + variations, András Schiff 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8, Paavali Jumppanen 1/2/3, etc)

which probably makes me a hipster of some kind, unfortunately

I didn't include all the individual CDs in my reference list, I somehow keep this straight in my head :) At some point I should write these out.

Offline staxomega

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4115 on: February 24, 2019, 07:45:20 AM »
I find it all depends on performance, sometimes recordings capture my imagination. This one, for example, has op 14/2 and I love it, it really touches me.



And this op 22 by Pommier

<a href="https://youtube.com/v/RG2QfSC2J-Q" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://youtube.com/v/RG2QfSC2J-Q</a>

Your post reminded me of my second favorite performance of the Hammerklavier (Gulda first)


Ghost of Baron Scarpia

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4116 on: February 24, 2019, 09:22:17 AM »
And again, I can think of a lot I would say against such a practice. People now tend to deplore the 19th century practice of shuffling movements between symphonies, something which definitely happened to Beethoven. Your habit is basically no different.

You can do it if you like. Just don't kid yourself that you're listening to what the composer wanted you to listen to. Or the performers for that matter. And recognise that you are distorting all sorts of things about tempo and proportion and key relationship that were planned.

I sometimes listen to individual movements. Of course I don't "kid myself" that I am listening to what the composer wanted me to hear. I do this precisely because I don't like what the composer wanted me to hear. I don't do it that much, mostly in Mahler, and mostly to avoid the vocal movements. I usually take the 2nd, 3rd, 4th symphonies only in parts.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2019, 10:16:47 AM by Ghost of Baron Scarpia »

Offline Jo498

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4117 on: February 24, 2019, 10:39:34 AM »
Yes, but note, that this scherzo is written in sonata form and contains no trio. So formally it is not a "true" Beethovenian scherzo. He just called it a scherzo in order to define the character of the music.
This is the same in op.18/4 and the 1st and 8th symphony. Technically these are all in place of slow movements. They are in a contrasting key and sonata form (or at least not in the tripartite form with trio) while the next movement in these pieces is in the main key and with a trio section.
Still. except for the andante of the 1st symphony that is somewhat in between slowish and scherzando they don't have the character of a slow movement (although the one from op.31/3 certainly feels the liveliest of all of them). In op.18/4 and the 8th symphony no movement is slow, in op.31/3 the menuet in moderate tempo almost works like a slow movement.
Scherzo/Scherzando refers at least as much to the character as to the form. The typical form is usually identical with a menuet or other dance forms, so this is not the only criterion for a Beethovenian scherzo.

Earlier, there is Haydn's c# minor sonata that has a scherzo/scherzando in a contrasting key as 2nd movement and a menuet as finale.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Marc

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4118 on: February 24, 2019, 03:43:50 PM »
You know, I applaud this approach in the other thread, where it is entirely appropriate. In this one I find it unnecessarily supercilious --- I am here to learn and discover, not to showcase my alleged, yet inexistent, knowledge or moral superiority.

The fun thing is, that on f.i. Pollini's twofer of so-called 'Favourite' ones, op. 79 in G Major was also included.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beethoven-Favourite-Pathtique-Moonlight-Appassionata/dp/B0052ZA7RO/?tag=goodmusicguideco

Just a small sonata without pretentions, but damn (oops, did I just write that?), do I like it very very much! The slow movement is short, but breathtakingly beautiful.
Here is a clip of op. 79 with Barenboim live:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgPIARFhMfA

So, in a way, Todd has a point: all 32 sonatas 'mit opuszahl' are great. Of course, op. 49 is a still young 18th century Beethoven, and, personally, I'm not really fond op op. 31/1, with the exception though of the Rondo Finale. But that's probably my fault, because apparently I don't get Beethoven's sense of humour. All three of op. 31 are still well worth exploring, because it represents the 'complete' Beethoven of that time (early 19th century): the transition from 'early' to 'middle period' Beethoven. 'Der Sturm' (The Tempest) op. 31/2, is one of those so-called great ones, but op. 31/3 is awesome, too.

I recall 'exploring' the sonatas piece by piece, and in the end I had to conclude, with Todd, that they're all great. Some are greater than others, but hey... nothing wrong with that. ;)
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4119 on: February 25, 2019, 01:12:13 AM »
I sometimes listen to individual movements. Of course I don't "kid myself" that I am listening to what the composer wanted me to hear. I do this precisely because I don't like what the composer wanted me to hear. I don't do it that much, mostly in Mahler, and mostly to avoid the vocal movements. I usually take the 2nd, 3rd, 4th symphonies only in parts.

I find that over time when I think I don't think I like part of what a composer wanted me to hear, but I keep listening to it, I usually end up appreciating it more.

Note that this is not a statement that I should persist with things that I don't respond to at all. But when we're talking about a composer I generally do respond to, and a work where I already like parts of it, it seems inherently more likely that the issue is in me not "getting" something initially rather than the composer having suddenly had an off moment.

Cf A considerable amount of the work of Vagn Holmboe who I regularly nominate as one of my favourite composers. There have been any number of his works that I haven't initially liked in full, but I've sensed there's something there worth exploring. If I decided to just avoid those bits, they would never click.
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