Author Topic: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas  (Read 600001 times)

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Offline George

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4200 on: July 08, 2019, 06:28:22 PM »
Thanks George!

I'm a bit surprised to see Barenboim.... I've been reading through the past several years of this thread, and got the impression you didn't care for him too much.... I have the DG.

My pleasure!

Barenboim's DG was my very first Beethoven sonata set. Overall, no, I don't like his Beethoven sonatas. However, I do think he does quite well with Ops. 111, 14/2, 22 and 78.

I also like his concerto set with Klemperer, even if it is isn't among my very favorite LvB concerto sets (Serkin/Kubelik, Sherman/Nuemann and Backhaus/Schmidt-Isserstedt.)

[These days, I think Barenboim shines brightest in the Brahms Piano Concertos with Barbirolli.]

 
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4201 on: July 08, 2019, 07:04:35 PM »
I have never heard his 111 (it's quite recent I think), I'm comparing Houstoun more to the Denon era Afanassiev in Brahms, Schubert, Schumann etc.

Someday I will do some more detailed comparisons for the last 5 sonatas, these are some of the contenders that would place highly though:

Op.109:
Maria Tipo (studio) A+, (live) A
Schnabel A
François Frederic Guy I (harmonia mundi) A-
Steven Osborne B+
Mitsuko Uchida B+

Op.110:
Gabor Csalog A-
Michaël Lévinas A-
Anderszewski B+
Osborne B+
Takahiro Sonoda III (Evica) B+
Uchida B

Op.111:
Pi-Hsien Chen A-
Eschenbach A-
Uchida B+/A- boundary
Osborne B+
Schnabel B+
Korstick B

I’ve just booked a ticket to hear Leonskaja play all three sonatas together. She’s getting some positive reviews with the programme so I have high expectations. It’s in a couple of months.

Don’t forget there are two Schnabel op 109/111

(Be sure to check Csalog’s Schubert, there’s something interesting going on there. Let me know if you find the booklet anywhere, if he’s written for it.)
« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 07:36:56 PM by Mandryka »
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Online Jo498

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4202 on: July 08, 2019, 11:30:17 PM »
I think you could do worse than the 1970s Pollini for getting to know them. He is somewhat "cool" but this also has the advantage of not getting used to overly eccentric or mannered interpretations.

There are probably some listener's guides online. Overall I am somewhat puzzled that the myth of the difficult Late Beethoven is still going on. I am not being facetious but as a relative beginner around 17 yo I found quite a bit of late Beethoven more accessible than lots of other classics, including some early and middle period Beethoven. True, there are some stumbling blocks, above all op.133 and the op.106 final (and maybe also the slow movement of this work due to sheer length) but there is also a lot of melodically appealing, accessible music.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
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The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Online jwinter

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4203 on: July 09, 2019, 05:22:37 PM »
Thanks for all of these suggestions, much obliged! 

Off-topic, George I totally agree on the Barenboim/Barbirolli Brahms -- long time favorite of mine.  I think it's tied with his Mahler 6 for my favorite recording from that conductor; rugged, powerful stuff.   
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

-- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Offline George

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4204 on: July 09, 2019, 05:25:44 PM »
Thanks for all of these suggestions, much obliged! 

Off-topic, George I totally agree on the Barenboim/Barbirolli Brahms -- long time favorite of mine.  I think it's tied with his Mahler 6 for my favorite recording from that conductor; rugged, powerful stuff.

Fully agree! Barbirolli's M6 is a force to be reckoned with.
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Offline staxomega

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4205 on: July 10, 2019, 01:11:19 PM »
Op.109:
Maria Tipo (studio) A+, (live) A

Op.110:
Takahiro Sonoda III (Evica) B+

Both of the Tipo Op. 109 were among my favorite Beethoven piano sonata discoveries from last year. I should hear them again to compare/contrast. On the disc with Op. 53 there is something very unusual- you can hear birds chirping in some of the quieter passages!

I have also really been taken with Takahiro Sonoda's Evica Op. 110, that left handed playing is something else.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2019, 01:13:48 PM by staxomega »

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4206 on: July 11, 2019, 04:35:45 AM »
Who are your favorites in these sonatas?  Are there any tips you might offer to a less experienced listener to aid in navigating these works?

Other than the above mentioned I have a faint spot among others for Badura-Skoda, Lucchesini and Solomon.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4207 on: July 11, 2019, 09:23:22 AM »

What would you recommend after that?  I'm thinking Gilels and Backhaus, maybe Charles Rosen...

Who are your favorites in these sonatas?  Are there any tips you might offer to a less experienced listener to aid in navigating these works?

If you want a modern piano, I think you should try a completely different approach, I think you should see what you make of Schiff's colourful, light, and lyrical way with Beethoven, he'll have you singing along and tapping your toes like with pop music.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 09:27:37 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4208 on: July 12, 2019, 01:31:59 AM »
Having spent parts of the last several days getting caught up on this thread, I followed it up by enjoying some excellent Beethoven on video .... Kempff performing the Moonlight and #27, followed by Gulda & Szell WP in the Emperor Concerto.  I thought the Moonlight sonata was particularly lovely in this recording:







I think the Schumann on this DVD is interesting.
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4209 on: July 12, 2019, 07:59:18 AM »
If you want a modern piano, I think you should try a completely different approach, I think you should see what you make of Schiff's colourful, light, and lyrical way with Beethoven, he'll have you singing along and tapping your toes like with pop music.

You mean this, right?



If yes, thanks for the tip.
"I compose music because I must give utterance to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts." --- Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4210 on: July 12, 2019, 08:01:06 AM »
Yes I do.
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Online jwinter

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4211 on: July 12, 2019, 08:19:22 AM »
Yes I do.

Duly noted.  I have lots of Schiff in Bach, Mozart, and Schubert, but not in Beethoven... I may need to check that out.  How would you compare Schiff to Richard Goode or Paul Lewis -- in a similar vein?

Much obliged to all for the suggestions!
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

-- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Offline George

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4212 on: July 12, 2019, 08:25:03 AM »
Duly noted.  I have lots of Schiff in Bach, Mozart, and Schubert, but not in Beethoven... I may need to check that out.  How would you compare Schiff to Richard Goode or Paul Lewis -- in a similar vein?

Much obliged to all for the suggestions!

While I am not a fan of Schiff's Beethoven, I am curious which LvB complete sonata sets you own.
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4213 on: July 12, 2019, 08:40:38 AM »
Duly noted.  I have lots of Schiff in Bach, Mozart, and Schubert, but not in Beethoven... I may need to check that out.  How would you compare Schiff to Richard Goode or Paul Lewis -- in a similar vein?

Much obliged to all for the suggestions!

I don't know Goode or Lewis well enough to comment, what I can say is this, in the late sonatas, in op 111,  Schiff plays the music like a troubadour, a jongleur. My thought was that this is so different from Kempff etc that, given that you're stuck, it's worth a try.

But really, you can hear for yourself easily enough can't you? They're all easily available.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 08:48:47 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Brian

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4214 on: July 12, 2019, 08:55:43 AM »
Duly noted.  I have lots of Schiff in Bach, Mozart, and Schubert, but not in Beethoven... I may need to check that out.  How would you compare Schiff to Richard Goode or Paul Lewis -- in a similar vein?

Much obliged to all for the suggestions!
The general consensus around here is that Goode and Lewis make very pretty sounds, but aren't too interesting deep down. I have only heard 5-6 sonatas from each of the three pianists, but expect Schiff to be livelier, less constantly legato, and more "historically informed" - like a HIP performance on a modern piano.

Offline San Antone

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4215 on: July 12, 2019, 09:41:33 AM »
The general consensus around here is that Goode and Lewis make very pretty sounds, but aren't too interesting deep down. I have only heard 5-6 sonatas from each of the three pianists, but expect Schiff to be livelier, less constantly legato, and more "historically informed" - like a HIP performance on a modern piano.

I'd say that Goode is somewhat more muscular than Lewis (who I think does a better job with Schubert) but yeah, neither is top tier, although certainly worthwhile.  I'd agree that the Schiff ECM New Series recordings reflect his more recent HIP orientation, albeit on modern piano.  A style of playing that is more evident in his Bach recordings, but I think the newer ECM recordings of either composer are measurably better than what he had recorded previously.  Also ECM's recorded sound is a pleasure to listen to.

Of all the pianists mentioned on this page, my vote would be for Schiff/ECM.

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4216 on: July 12, 2019, 09:45:48 AM »
Duly noted.  I have lots of Schiff in Bach, Mozart, and Schubert, but not in Beethoven... I may need to check that out.  How would you compare Schiff to Richard Goode or Paul Lewis -- in a similar vein?

Much obliged to all for the suggestions!

I find Goode rather straight and unsophisticated and a bit boring.
Lewis is a prettified variety of Kempff (if that is possible) but without his insight.
Schiff is concerned about micro-details and a bit mannered. Tiring in the long run.
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Online jwinter

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4217 on: July 12, 2019, 11:46:14 AM »
While I am not a fan of Schiff's Beethoven, I am curious which LvB complete sonata sets you own.


Since you asked ... I went through a period several years ago (back when I was a regular member of the forum) when I bought and collected a great number of recordings.  As I'm sure many folks here can relate, it's very easy to acquire a box set with 5 or 15 or 50 CDs -- it's another matter entirely to devote the time to listen to and really appreciate the music.  I acquired what I considered a good basic library of the "standard repertoire"/warhorses/classics/whatever you wish to call them, focusing mostly on orchestral music, and then went on to acquire things like kids, added job responsibility, parents with health issues, etc., which resulted in my losing some things like extraneous time, CD budget, etc.


My kids are getting older now, which frees up some time, and I'm now spending some of it getting re-acquainted (or in many cases acquainted, if I'm honest) with some of the recordings I piled up back in the day.  Up until last month I hadn't bought a classical CD in about 4-5 years.  I made an exception for the big Szell Columbia recording set, and am now very cautiously picking up a few choice items (such as the Marzendorfer Haydn set that I mentioned in the Haydn thread). 


All of which is preamble to an embarrassingly long list of cycles owned by someone who still doesn't quite "get" the later sonatas.  I clearly need to spend some time listening to what I've already got, and intend to.  I have physical copies of the following sets, off the top of my head.  I also have a couple more in MP3 format, notably Annie Fischer, and some random assortments of sonatas by other pianists.



Arrau
Backhaus stereo
Barenboim DG
Brendel III
Frank
Gilels
Goode
Gulda (Amadeo)
Heidsieck
Kempff mono
Kovacevich
Kuerti
Lewis
Nat
O’Conor
Schnabel (Naxos)


Recommendations for good places to go within the above list are very welcome, though I'll also bank information on other sets (such as Schiff) for the future. 


Thanks for listening, and for all of the recommendations and guidance!  :)



The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

-- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Offline George

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4218 on: July 12, 2019, 12:12:08 PM »
...snip....

Arrau
Backhaus stereo
Barenboim DG
Brendel III
Frank
Gilels
Goode
Gulda (Amadeo)
Heidsieck
Kempff mono
Kovacevich
Kuerti
Lewis
Nat
O’Conor
Schnabel (Naxos)

Recommendations for good places to go within the above list are very welcome, though I'll also bank information on other sets (such as Schiff) for the future. 

Thanks for sharing all that!

Wow, you have an impressive list of complete LvB sets, there. I think your idea to listen more is a wise one. 

Looking at your list, the ones that I find to be the most consistent and enjoyable:

Backhaus stereo - Great sound and nearly as well performed as his mono set. He's such a knowing guide through this great music. One feels as if they are in good hands listening to him play Beethoven.
Gulda (Amadeo) - A top three Beethoven set, IMO. (Annie Fischer and Lucchesini being the other two) Love his clean, fast way of playing. Comes off as Beethoven as young adult.
Kempff mono - Surprisingly solid mono sound, performance here certainly betters his later stereo set on DG. Less fireworks, more beauty.
Schnabel (Naxos) - Urgent, spontaneous sounding playing here. I love this classic set. And I love Mark Obert-Thorn's musical/listenable transfers.

As for where to go with what you have, I would suggest listening through one or more of them in order. I think that Backhaus and Gulda would be your best guide through the structure of the works. For the emotional aspect, Annie Fischer and Schnabel are second to none. And for the beauty of the music, Kempff mono and Lucchesini should be of great help. I realize you don't have the Lucchesini, I just mention him because after years of thinking I had all the Beethoven sonata sets I'd ever need, I found his set used for a great price and was immediately hooked on his playing, which is live on this set.

« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 12:15:13 PM by George »
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Offline Brian

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4219 on: July 12, 2019, 01:18:28 PM »
I agree pretty much 100% with George's post.

In addition I want to note that quite a few of the cycles you own are known to be "eccentric." Not in a BAD way, but in a way that is to say that they're more for connoisseurs and Beethoven junkies and weirdos like me, rather than somebody who is just trying to "get" the pieces for the first time. These more oddball performers would include Gilels (very very romantic, often rather slow - I think they're totally wonderful), Heidsieck, Lewis (as described above), Nat (very "French"), Gulda (the exact opposite of Gilels), and honestly some of the stereo Backhaus too.

Again - not to insult those performers. They all are capable of achieving big highs. But they're more individualized vs. somebody like Kempff who can guide a first-timer through without seeming to have a "bias". And they also occasionally simply miss - like I love Heidsieck in most of the sonatas, but his "Pastoral" really annoys me with its weirdness.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 01:20:13 PM by Brian »