Author Topic: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas  (Read 817506 times)

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Offline Todd

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4440 on: July 19, 2020, 09:00:51 AM »
Regarding complete cycles on fortepiano, this one is worth hearing ...




The reigning period instrument champ until:

1.) Andrea Lucchesini records a period instrument cycle, or

2.) Penelope Crawford completes a period instrument cycle, or

3.) Andras Schiff records a period instrument cycle, or

4.) Some heretofore unidentified keyboardist records a cycle superior to the notional cycles listed above
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Offline amw

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4441 on: July 23, 2020, 01:08:03 AM »
I'm holding out hope for Olga Pashchenko (admittedly, not much hope).

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4442 on: July 23, 2020, 01:13:54 AM »
I listened to the first movement of Rosel's op 106 and amazingly, enjoyed it.
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Offline Mookalafalas

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4443 on: September 11, 2020, 05:24:33 AM »
Apparently this is just coming out today...

It's all good...

Offline Todd

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4444 on: September 21, 2020, 08:51:42 AM »



So far this year, none of the LvB sonata cycles released* have come close to cracking the top tier.  I don't really expect one to, unless maybe FFG delivers a surprise second cycle or Krystian Zimerman an even bigger surprise first cycle, but one always hopes for knockout Beethoven.  Here's one such disc.  Schuch can do whatever he wants with a piano, and what he wants to do is intervene.  A lot.  There's no garish rubato or accenting, but in all three Beethoven Sonatas on offer, he can't go a full bar without adding a personal touch.  His combination of accenting and rubato is unique and pronounced, and not everyone will like it.  His use of the sostenuto pedal is more pronounced than normal, too.  And his virtuosity turned to anti-virtuosity is a marvel.  He could play the music fast if he wanted, but instead his supreme control of tempo, and his choice to purposely slow some things down, and to play with ultra-fine dynamic gradations, compels.  The coda of 31/2 offers a case in point, but it's evident from the Op 13 Grave that opens the disc.  Indeed, Op 13 encapsulates everything Schuch does in the first movement.  It's a feast for the ears, with so many things going on, that it will take at least a half dozen listens to digest them all.  On first listen, the end result seems to be that Schuch delivers three strongly individual readings, played at the highest level, capped off by one of the greatest recordings of 31/1.  Each movement is a universe unto itself, with the outer movements more animated and possessed of limitless dynamic shadings.  But the Adagio grazioso emerges as playing of genius.  Playing up the parody nature, Schuch throws everything he has at, with insanely good trills, varying in volume and note length just because; accelerandos to make you think why not; exaggerated pauses and sforzandi because it only makes sense.  It almost overwhelms.  He doesn't veer off into Kuerti or Sherman territory, and he plays better than either of them, and it just stomps all over expectations.

Three small, modern works are also included, starting with Mike Garson's Pathetique Variations, which is a very fine pastiche informed by jazz and other less than purely conservatory approved ideas.  Henri Pousseur's Coups de Des en Echos and Leander Ruprect's Sonata in D Minor are gnarlier modern works, and both work nicely enough, though they are not up to the Garson, at least to my taste.

Once again, Mr Schuch delivers a purchase of the year.


* Minsoo Sohn, Konstantin Scherbakov, and Barenboim IV still need to be listened to, of course.  Maybe one of those will set the modern standard.  (I mean, probably not.)
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Offline jlopes

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4445 on: September 21, 2020, 09:17:43 AM »
or Krystian Zimerman an even bigger surprise first cycle

I still can't believe DG chose to release Pollini's live 109-110-111 with awful sound earlier this year instead of a Zimerman take of these three sonatas - after all he mentioned (in the D959/D960 booklet interview) that he now wanted to record them. Well, I can believe, actually. It's impossible to expect smart things from DG nowadays, I'm afraid.

Offline Scion7

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4446 on: September 21, 2020, 09:44:24 AM »
Agree about the live Pollini.  The ones from the 1976/77 cycle are the only ones for me.



The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal

Offline amw

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4447 on: September 25, 2020, 03:32:42 PM »


On the basis of this recording, containing Op. 7, 10/3, 13 & 27/2, Hisako Kawamura joins the elite tier of Beethoven interpreters; she may be the greatest living one on modern piano (but I would wait for the last two volumes before making that judgment). There are two potential downsides to her playing that I'll get out of the way quickly: she does not shy away from producing a harsh and violent tone, and her rhythmic sense can be somewhat metronomic. The appeal of her playing lies mostly in her mastery of touch, in all its gradations from the softest and gentlest possible piano to the loudest and most metallic forte. She does not produce very interesting colours (though that's also partly due to her instrument of choice) but her utter control of every note and sound is paralleled only by, among living artists, Yeol Eum Son, Daniil Trifonov and Arcadi Volodos. The difference between her and those artists is that she does not limit herself to making everything sound beautiful. Her control extends to a willingness to break the "rules" of piano touch to suit the character of the music, which makes her instead a successor to Lili Kraus and Annie Fischer.

That attention to character also sets her apart from the bulk of present-day interpreters: her Beethoven can be witty, playful, violent, solemn, amiable, mysterious or straightforward, all within the same movement as necessary. It is always fundamentally alive, and she does not attempt to impose a consistent aesthetic from work to work. (So her playing is not "consistently" fast, slow or medium, youthful or mature, classical or romantic, etc.) In these early sonatas she often eschews use of the pedal, but this if anything seems to give her even more freedom; her fps have to be heard to be believed. I'm obviously very interested to hear what she does with the pedal in the later sonatas which do call for it.

This volume is now available on streaming services & internationally. A second volume, containing Op. 31/3, 53, 57 and 78, has been released but is only available in Japan; it is unclear how long the delay will be before it hits the international market. Two additional volumes are expected (most likely in 2021) to contain Op. 81a, 90, 106, 109, 110 & 111. (There do not seem to be any plans to record any of the other sonatas.)

Stylistic points of comparison: in addition to the pianists I mentioned, also Maria Tipo, Yusuke Kikuchi, Vladimir Horowitz

You might not enjoy this if your favoured interpreters are: Emil Gilels, Wilhelm Kempff, Wilhelm Backhaus, Hans Richter-Haaser, Sviatoslav Richter

Offline Todd

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4448 on: September 25, 2020, 04:16:55 PM »
There do not seem to be any plans to record any of the other sonatas.


No bueno.

Now I want to try this recording.  Probably her Rach 2, too, while I'm at it.
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Offline amw

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4449 on: September 25, 2020, 06:14:41 PM »
Her Chopin is also elite tier in my view (and her Schubert and Schumann are at least very good). I haven’t heard the Rachmaninov.

Offline George

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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4451 on: September 26, 2020, 02:15:07 AM »
You might not enjoy this if your favoured interpreters are: Emil Gilels, Wilhelm Kempff, Wilhelm Backhaus, Hans Richter-Haaser, Sviatoslav Richter

Thanks, I do enjoy these, and with - until now 70+ complete sets - I have reached some kind of saturation point and will surely pass this new set by.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4452 on: September 26, 2020, 03:41:56 AM »

 10/3,

oooooo!  That's one I can listen to, so on goes the largo e mesto.

Is this a premonition of late Beethoven wisdom à la Schnabel? Not in her hands it ain't. Emo teenager wisdom maybe. I like it!  No I don't. Yes I do a bit.  Well maybe it's OK once or twice. Glad to know it exists.



You might not enjoy this if your favoured interpreters are: Emil Gilels, Wilhelm Kempff, Wilhelm Backhaus, Hans Richter-Haaser, Sviatoslav Richter

You might enjoy this if your favoured interpreters are: Glenn Gould and Friedrich Gulda.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2020, 03:49:59 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Todd

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4453 on: September 26, 2020, 04:34:47 AM »
Her Chopin is also elite tier in my view (and her Schubert and Schumann are at least very good). I haven’t heard the Rachmaninov.


I have her Chopin/Schumann disc and Chopin Preludes.  She is very good, though I prefer others in every work I have heard.  Since her first LvB volume can be downloaded for a reasonable price, I will probably give it a shot.  Always good to hear a different take - especially if Op 7 is included.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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Offline George

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4454 on: September 26, 2020, 05:10:14 AM »
Thanks, I do enjoy these, and with - until now 70+ complete sets - I have reached some kind of saturation point and will surely pass this new set by.

I hear ya, man. I have far less than 70 sets and have reached a point where I won't likely be buying more.
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Offline hvbias

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4455 on: September 26, 2020, 10:24:03 AM »
I listened to her play the Pathetique Sonata, certainly had me tapping my foot (maybe the metronomic precision amw mentioned) and she played with propulsive brio, really reminded me of Friedrich Gulda. I thought her phrasing of some of the loud sections and how she abruptly cut them off was a bit odd. Overall not for me.

The first Chopin Ballade in G minor was very good, elastic tempo, that same propulsiveness from the Beethoven and some power in controlling those rolling dynamic changes. I plan to return to the rest.

Offline amw

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4456 on: September 26, 2020, 11:50:03 AM »
Friedrich Gulda is another name I should have mentioned yes, although she is more like the 1967 Gulda than the 1953 (Orfeo) Gulda (which is my preferred Gulda set). I think Gulda did not have the same degree of control of touch though.

Glad some people have listened & posted their thoughts though! (I try to make sure my views are always indicated as subjective. For me I knew Kawamura was the Beethoven interpreter I'd been looking for within ~20 seconds but it did take listening to the entire album to formulate my reasons why.)

Offline Todd

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4457 on: October 08, 2020, 05:24:54 PM »





Volume two now out.  The collection of movements only serves to annoy; release the whole set, dammit.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Everything dies - Alien Bounty Hunter, The X-Files

Everyone dies - William Barr, United States Attorney General

Offline Scion7

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4458 on: October 08, 2020, 05:56:23 PM »
 ^ I don't find her convincing on Beethoven.  She's much better with other composer's material, such as Liszt.
The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal

Offline Todd

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4459 on: October 08, 2020, 05:59:43 PM »
What does "convincing" mean?
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Everything dies - Alien Bounty Hunter, The X-Files

Everyone dies - William Barr, United States Attorney General