Author Topic: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas  (Read 740475 times)

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Offline George

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4360 on: February 23, 2020, 10:37:12 AM »
This is the first cycle in a long time to make me sit up and listen. It's a very personal cycle and I like a lot of what Lifschitz does. As George mentioned, many of the slow movements are absolutely gorgeous. I don't find it annoyingly idiosynchratic. There is no "look at me, look at me, aren't I great" element. At the moment I'm just before the Pathetique.

On another note, all the previous 7 sonatas were recorded live. I hope this is the case for the whole set.

One thing I love about his playing is he does unique things, but in such a convincing way that it makes sense. In the interviews on youtube, he mentions time and time again all the research he has done with the scores. The guy is thoughtful and thorough in his approach, I suppose that is something that makes it work so well. He keeps it fresh, but in an informed way.
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Offline George

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4361 on: February 24, 2020, 06:36:30 PM »
I listened to CD 03 from Lifschitz's set over the last few days. I listened to it twice because the first time it didn't click for me like the first two discs did. His playing continues to be unique, but on CD 03 the (slower than usual) tempos and (at times, odd) phrasing don't work for me as well as they did for his first two discs. I enjoyed his Op. 7 the most on the disc, but his Pathetique sonata was disappointing. I plan to listen to more of the set later in the week. 
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Offline J.A.W.

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4362 on: February 25, 2020, 03:15:43 AM »
Found the Lifschitz Beethoven set (new) for 30 euros plus change and couldn't resist.
Hans

Offline Brian

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4363 on: February 25, 2020, 06:55:20 AM »
I know others have already said it, but that really is an atrocious cover - especially for Alpha, a label that quite often produces handsome cover art. It would be bad regardless, but the little figure of Lifschitz pasted in there - what is he doing, shaking his fist at the giant inescapable presence of LvB? - is what really makes it awful.
Agreed. I have very limited CD storage space (cuz I bought too many) and now try to restrict physical purchases to either rarities or a small handful of record labels which treat the physical product with great care and try to make something worth holding and keeping. Alpha is typically very much one if those labels but this box artwork is truly gross.

Also, after reading George's comments about listening to various YouTube interviews, I honestly hoped the booklet would have an essay by or interview with the pianist. Instead he just offers a dedication. Oh well.

Good thing it's on streaming!

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4364 on: February 25, 2020, 11:51:25 AM »
There's a lot of extreme slowness throughout. Friday I listened to Op 31 No 1, where his slow movement is 14'. He sustains it so beautifully that it doesn't ever feel like a stretch, but he also loses a good deal of the humor of the music's exaggerations.

I'm quite excited for the 28' Waldstein as that's one where I like a big romantic approach.

Maybe not that long in op 111/ii after all, I just saw that Peter Serkin (Graf) takes about the same for the theme.
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Offline hvbias

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4365 on: February 25, 2020, 05:41:30 PM »
I think this hasn't been posted here yet:


Yes, it's new recordings (40 years later!).
Feb. 28th release date, as per Presto Classical.

Really special Op. 109 for me. Weirdly he sort of rushes, even clips some of the phrases yet it still sounds divine and transcendental. The same continues through the rest of 109. His tone is also much more to my taste here with a rich burnished tone compared to the steeliness of his earlier recording. Not a fan of either recording of his in 110 and 111 didn't hit the same highs for me as the earlier recording. Lots of humming throughout :)

Really wonderful atmosphere around the recordings too, brilliantly mic'd by DG, loads of ambient information about the hall and plenty of direct sound.

Offline amw

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4366 on: February 25, 2020, 10:08:12 PM »
Lifschitz takes 2 minutes and 50 seconds for the opening "arietta" theme of op 111/ii. I don't know much about Beethoven but isn't that a bit of a long time?
Here is an ordered list of (most of the) recordings I have, since I was in the middle of splitting each one up into its variations to compare timings anyway. Favourites highlighted.

Edwin Fischer - 1:53
Michel Dalberto - 2:01
Yeol Eum Son - 2:06
Zhou Xiao-Mei - 2:06
Paul Badura-Skoda [Astrée/Arcana] - 2:11
Cédric Pescia - 2:15
Annie Fischer [EMI] - 2:16
Mitsuko Uchida - 2:17
András Schiff [Broadwood] - 2:18
Olga Pashchenko - 2:18
Robert Riefling - 2:18
Annie Fischer [BBC] - 2:19
Alexei Lubimov - 2:20
Penelope Crawford - 2:20
Fazıl Say [Warner] - 2:24
Alexei Volodin - 2:24
Dina Ugorskaja - 2:27
Gábor Csalog - 2:28
András Schiff [Bösendorfer] - 2:29
Paul Komen - 2:30
Kazune Shimizu - 2:30
Michaël Lévinas - 2:32
Einar Steen-Nøkleberg - 2:36
Yusuke Kikuchi - 2:36
Charles Rosen - 2:37
Bruce Hungerford - 2:42
Pi-Hsien Chen - 2:45
me - 2:45
Artur Schnabel - 2:48
Paavali Jumppanen - 2:49
Claudio Arrau [Music & Arts] - 2:50
Michael Korstick - 2:52
Grigory Sokolov - 2:55
Peter Serkin - 2:57
Takahiro Sonoda [Evica] - 3:12
Daniel-Ben Pienaar - 3:12
Christoph Eschenbach - 3:27
Anatol Ugorski - 3:38

You may judge for yourself whether 2:50 counts as a "long time" in this context.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2020, 10:10:40 PM by amw »

Offline Jo498

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4367 on: February 26, 2020, 12:25:15 AM »
Not sure if this was already linked, the Igor Levit is available for listening (for some time) at the Netherlands Radio

https://www.nporadio4.nl/cds/igor-levit-beethoven-complete-piano-sonatas
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4368 on: February 26, 2020, 12:44:30 AM »
Here is an ordered list of (most of the) recordings I have, since I was in the middle of splitting each one up into its variations to compare timings anyway. Favourites highlighted.

Edwin Fischer - 1:53


I've always had this theory that Zoltan Kocsis was Edwin Fischer in a previous life, so I thought I'd see what happens on this recording



and lo and behold, proof that there is metempsychosis

Zoltan Kocsis 1:58

It's very good! Let me say that again, it's very good. If anyone wants the sound files of the whole DVD they can PM me.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2020, 12:47:29 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline amw

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4369 on: February 26, 2020, 12:48:21 AM »
I've always had this theory that Zoltan Kocsis was Edwin Fischer in a previous life, so I thought I'd see what happens on this recording



and lo and behold, proof that there is metempsychosis

Zoltan Kocsis 1:58

It's very good! Let me say that again, it's very good. If anyone wants the sound files of the whole DVD they can PM me.
Count me as interested!

Offline Marc

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4370 on: February 26, 2020, 12:50:51 AM »
Count me as interested!

Me too.

(I should clean my PM archives, but I keep forgetting it. :-[)
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Offline Brian

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4371 on: February 26, 2020, 12:28:13 PM »
Really special Op. 109 for me. Weirdly he sort of rushes, even clips some of the phrases yet it still sounds divine and transcendental. The same continues through the rest of 109. His tone is also much more to my taste here with a rich burnished tone compared to the steeliness of his earlier recording. Not a fan of either recording of his in 110 and 111 didn't hit the same highs for me as the earlier recording. Lots of humming throughout :)

Really wonderful atmosphere around the recordings too, brilliantly mic'd by DG, loads of ambient information about the hall and plenty of direct sound.
Listening now. Definitely quite interesting - the speed but with warmth. Sounds live, I occasionally hear some coughing in the distance in addition to Pollini's own humming.

EDIT: To add to amw's listing above, Pollini's arietta theme is 2:14.

EDIT II: Also I am super interested in the Kocsis.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2020, 12:38:29 PM by Brian »

Offline hvbias

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4372 on: February 26, 2020, 01:32:46 PM »
Listening now. Definitely quite interesting - the speed but with warmth. Sounds live, I occasionally hear some coughing in the distance in addition to Pollini's own humming.

EDIT: To add to amw's listing above, Pollini's arietta theme is 2:14.

EDIT II: Also I am super interested in the Kocsis.

Yeah it's live, this is why I complemented DG's engineers as there is virtually no audience noise (or maybe they paid the eye watering amount his tickets go for and decided to stay quiet!); it sounds like the mics are placed closer to the piano with the amount left hand weightiness I'm hearing. But at the same time enough reverberant information from the hall that I get a feel for the recording space that it's in. Pollini does play quite briskly and one reason 111 is not entirely to my taste is how he plays variation 4 and 5. Variation 3 is also a bit lacking in the real reckless abandonment but that is fine, Gulda or maybe Grinberg might be the only ones I've heard that truly relishes this section.

If this is unedited, and I am lead to believe it might be since there are a few extremely minor mistakes here and there, then Pollini still possess tremendous skill. I'd love to see him play this program live.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2020, 01:38:34 PM by hvbias »

Offline hvbias

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4373 on: February 26, 2020, 01:46:05 PM »
Here is an ordered list of (most of the) recordings I have, since I was in the middle of splitting each one up into its variations to compare timings anyway. Favourites highlighted.

Edwin Fischer - 1:53
Michel Dalberto - 2:01
Yeol Eum Son - 2:06
Zhou Xiao-Mei - 2:06
Paul Badura-Skoda [Astrée/Arcana] - 2:11
Cédric Pescia - 2:15
Annie Fischer [EMI] - 2:16
Mitsuko Uchida - 2:17
András Schiff [Broadwood] - 2:18
Olga Pashchenko - 2:18
Robert Riefling - 2:18
Annie Fischer [BBC] - 2:19
Alexei Lubimov - 2:20
Penelope Crawford - 2:20
Fazıl Say [Warner] - 2:24
Alexei Volodin - 2:24
Dina Ugorskaja - 2:27
Gábor Csalog - 2:28
András Schiff [Bösendorfer] - 2:29
Paul Komen - 2:30
Kazune Shimizu - 2:30
Michaël Lévinas - 2:32
Einar Steen-Nøkleberg - 2:36
Yusuke Kikuchi - 2:36
Charles Rosen - 2:37
Bruce Hungerford - 2:42
Pi-Hsien Chen - 2:45
me - 2:45
Artur Schnabel - 2:48
Paavali Jumppanen - 2:49
Claudio Arrau [Music & Arts] - 2:50
Michael Korstick - 2:52
Grigory Sokolov - 2:55
Peter Serkin - 2:57
Takahiro Sonoda [Evica] - 3:12
Daniel-Ben Pienaar - 3:12
Christoph Eschenbach - 3:27
Anatol Ugorski - 3:38

You may judge for yourself whether 2:50 counts as a "long time" in this context.

Which Edwin Fischer recording is this? The one from Salzburg comes in at the time you stated, he also has a studio recording from a couple of months earlier that I've never heard (I guess vinyl only or Japan CD). I find myself in agreement with many of the bolded selections, in particular Hungerford, Schnabel and Peter Serkin. I don't know some of the others.

I thought I'd revisit Sonoda (Evica) since I've praised some of his late sonatas in the past (I really like 110 Evica), here I couldn't get over how glacial the Arietta is. I can't even imagine how Ugorski does it, but we're treated to a Bernard Michael O'Hanlon review of it so I will give it a go  :laugh:

Here is Lucchesini clocking in at 2:30 if you haven't heard it, I know this box can be hard to find. My personal favorite. https://www.mediafire.com/file/t1nq9knh9llodpc/111arietta.flac/file
« Last Edit: February 26, 2020, 01:47:39 PM by hvbias »

Offline amw

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4374 on: March 02, 2020, 02:33:39 AM »
Just realised I forgot about this thread lol

Which Edwin Fischer recording is this?
The only one that's widely available (Salzburg 28 June 1954).

Quote
I find myself in agreement with many of the bolded selections, in particular Hungerford, Schnabel and Peter Serkin. I don't know some of the others.

I thought I'd revisit Sonoda (Evica) since I've praised some of his late sonatas in the past (I really like 110 Evica), here I couldn't get over how glacial the Arietta is. I can't even imagine how Ugorski does it, but we're treated to a Bernard Michael O'Hanlon review of it so I will give it a go  :laugh:
To be honest I very rarely listen to the Ugorski recording, but I do like the Sonoda/Evica and the Eschenbach (whose last movement overall comes in at 22:26; unlike Sonoda, he attempts to play all the variations at that extremely slow tempo). Ugorski actually succeeds at playing all of the variations at his chosen slow tempo. This is harder than it sounds because as the music increases in volume and decreases in note values your natural tendency is to speed up. (Sonoda's Arietta is 3:12; his Variation I is 2:40; his Variation II is 1:42. This is exceptional only in its extremism.)

Quote
Here is Lucchesini clocking in at 2:30 if you haven't heard it, I know this box can be hard to find. My personal favorite. https://www.mediafire.com/file/t1nq9knh9llodpc/111arietta.flac/file
I've never bothered to acquire the Lucchesini cycle despite having it fairly easily available from several sources & streaming sites—not sure why. It has certainly received enough praise but I think I always found him a bit too romanticised.

Some example timings for Op. 111/ii—theme and variations 1-5:

Schiff [Broadwood] - 2:19 / 1:57 / 1:45 / 2:01 / 5:28 / 3:59
Uchida - 2:17 / 2:21 / 1:57 / 2:03 / 5:31 / 4:25
Hungerford - 2:42 / 2:02 / 1:36 / 1:57 / 5:13 / 4:10
Rosen - 2:38 / 2:25 / 2:31 / 2:17 / 6:06 / 4:05
Peter Serkin - 2:57 / 2:24 / 1:52 / 1:43 / 5:44 / 4:22
Pashchenko - 2:19 / 1:51 / 1:48 / 2:12 / 4:53 / 3:47
Schnabel - 2:48 / 1:56 / 1:53 / 1:55 / 5:19 / 4:22
Eschenbach - 3:27 / 3:17 / 2:33 / 2:11 / 6:06 / 4:52
Ugorski - 3:39 / 3:49 / 3:34 / 2:44 / 7:50 / 5:20
Sokolov - 2:56 / 2:28 / 2:43 / 2:11 / 6:21 / 4:55
Edwin Fischer - 1:53 / 1:43 / 1:36 / 2:03 / 4:32 / 3:23
Sonoda [Evica] - 3:12 / 2:40 / 1:42 / 2:02 / 5:23 / 3:56
me - 2:45 / 2:03 / 2:10 / 2:24 [with mistakes] / 5:56 / 3:40—now that I know this I'll work on speeding up the Arietta a bit in line with the rest of the variations, because I prefer the relative evenness of tempo in the Fischer conception..... and also practicing variation 3 a lot
« Last Edit: March 02, 2020, 02:38:13 AM by amw »

Offline hvbias

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4375 on: March 03, 2020, 03:55:13 PM »
Just realised I forgot about this thread lol
The only one that's widely available (Salzburg 28 June 1954).
To be honest I very rarely listen to the Ugorski recording, but I do like the Sonoda/Evica and the Eschenbach (whose last movement overall comes in at 22:26; unlike Sonoda, he attempts to play all the variations at that extremely slow tempo). Ugorski actually succeeds at playing all of the variations at his chosen slow tempo. This is harder than it sounds because as the music increases in volume and decreases in note values your natural tendency is to speed up. (Sonoda's Arietta is 3:12; his Variation I is 2:40; his Variation II is 1:42. This is exceptional only in its extremism.)
I've never bothered to acquire the Lucchesini cycle despite having it fairly easily available from several sources & streaming sites—not sure why. It has certainly received enough praise but I think I always found him a bit too romanticised.

I was listening to Ernst Levy, another very special Op. 111 for me and he also comes in at 3:12 in the Arietta, but the entire movement works for me (too lazy to break down the times by variation). So I will have to come back to Sonoda Evica and hear the entire thing. Ugorski might take considerably more time ;D Here is Levy in the Arietta: https://www.mediafire.com/file/u169xoxadwl8u7o/levy111.flac/file

Your post also tipped me off to an Annie Fischer recording I didn't know existed, the BBC one since it wasn't on the more ubiquitous BBC Legends label. I have that incoming and look forward to hearing it.

On Lucchesini's cycle as a whole, the way I have this pictured in my head is if Paul Badura-Skoda's Astree is perfectly classical and Arrau (EMI/60s Philips) is high romanticism, with Kempff (any of them) as a perfect balance between classical and romantic the Lucchesini cycle is slightly past Kempff in being a bit more romantic. It has replaced Annie Fischer's Hungaroton as now being my overall favorite.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2020, 03:57:35 PM by hvbias »

Offline George

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4376 on: March 03, 2020, 05:43:32 PM »
I am still listening through the Lipschitz set for the first time. I am finding a bit more ups and downs in the set than I expected (or wanted.) But boy when he is on, he is as good as anyone, tonight I am listening to the disc that has Op. 78, 79, 81a, 90 and 101. His Op. 78 is the best I have heard.
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