Author Topic: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas  (Read 923312 times)

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Offline lordlance

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4580 on: December 12, 2021, 12:15:35 PM »
Sviatoslav Richter.  Stephen Kovacevich. Annie Fischer. Maurizio Pollini.

Any specific Richter recordings?

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4581 on: December 12, 2021, 12:20:16 PM »
Any specific Richter recordings?

Yes - early ones, before his heart trouble.  How about this?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Richter-Leipzig-Beethoven-recording-remastered/dp/B00G2IQJX6

(I’ve just put it on. If you can tolerate the sound it is exactly what you want, or I’ll eat my hat. Electric, fast, symphonic, lots of wallop.)
« Last Edit: December 12, 2021, 12:31:03 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4582 on: December 12, 2021, 12:46:08 PM »
Most of the sonatas are actually not like the "Appassionata" but often lyrical or playful pieces...

- Gulda (amadeo) is fast and "straightforward", but not loud and despite lack of romantic flexibility actually quite consistently obeying dynamics and score markings. It's just that he usually slows down only a little at "ritenuto" or similar passages and that the bas tempo is usually fast. For me, it's a "classic" and mandatory listening up to the Waldstein and for op.106 and 111.
- Kocsis' disc with op.2/1, op.10/1, op.13 and 31/2
- Rudolf Serkin in op.13 and 57. Like Annie Fischer, often a bit rough.
- Pollini with the live op.22 and Waldstein (DG late 1990s)
- all Gelber on Denon; not unsubtle, more "romantic" than any of the others I mentioned but fastish and intense.
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.
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Offline JBS

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Re: Recommendation for Beethoven's piano sonatas
« Reply #4583 on: December 12, 2021, 12:46:54 PM »
I am sure there are approximately 50 threads dedicated to Beethoven PS recs but I come with different needs:
1) I actually find most instrumental and chamber music intolerable because they can often lack the electricity orchestral music can generate (I am sure people will disagree with that.) Sure in piano transcendental etudes is an hour long marathon of manic music but I have often found piano music sorely lacking in the ferocity that orchestral music can bring (for example Chopin - Mazurkas most notably - and even my beloved Liszt in Vallee d'obermann which bored me to death.)
2) Keeping 1 in mind I am looking for a cycle that's high-octane and explosive in energy and not necessarily "subtle" for I don't think I would appreciate those attributes.

Thank you.

I'm not sure the complete cycle is what you want. TBH, I prefer the opposite approach.
I suggest focusing on the Appassionata sonata--which needs to be played the way you like things played--and finding a pianist you like in that single piece, then following up with whatever else they recorded.

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4584 on: December 12, 2021, 01:09:01 PM »
Most of the sonatas are actually not like the "Appassionata" but often lyrical or playful pieces...



Not sure you're right there, the barnstorming aesthetic seems totally central to core Beethoven performance practice to me, from op 2 to op 120. There may be lyrical and playful moments of course, even in the Appassionata. And what lordlance asks for seems to me exactly what the Beethoven heads here often praise to the skies -- electric, high octane, ferocious . . .

Levitt may be another good one for him to think about -- at least if the recordings resemble the concerts (I have heard the recordings)
« Last Edit: December 12, 2021, 01:12:21 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline amw

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4585 on: December 12, 2021, 02:40:18 PM »
For incredibly intense and explosive playing it's hard to recommend anyone other than Schnabel, and most pianists vary from sonata to sonata in that regard. Annie Fischer and Steven Kovacevich come close in some respects. Friedrich Gulda in others (and modern-day pianists who imitate him—Yusuke Kikuchi, Valentina Lisitsa). Peter Serkin might also be a good choice, and Pollini is decent. I've never liked Richter but many people do.

It's probably easier to ask for recordings of specific sonatas that utilise that aesthetic.

Offline George

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Re: Recommendation for Beethoven's piano sonatas
« Reply #4586 on: December 12, 2021, 04:31:00 PM »
I am sure there are approximately 50 threads dedicated to Beethoven PS recs but I come with different needs:
1) I actually find most instrumental and chamber music intolerable because they can often lack the electricity orchestral music can generate (I am sure people will disagree with that.) Sure in piano transcendental etudes is an hour long marathon of manic music but I have often found piano music sorely lacking in the ferocity that orchestral music can bring (for example Chopin - Mazurkas most notably - and even my beloved Liszt in Vallee d'obermann which bored me to death.)
2) Keeping 1 in mind I am looking for a cycle that's high-octane and explosive in energy and not necessarily "subtle" for I don't think I would appreciate those attributes.

Thank you.

For a complete set, given your preferences, I would say Kovacevich on EMI would be the best fit.
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Offline Jo498

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4587 on: December 13, 2021, 02:52:04 AM »
Not sure you're right there, the barnstorming aesthetic seems totally central to core Beethoven performance practice to me, from op 2 to op 120.

The barnstorming is appropriate in some pieces and movements, less so in others. A piece can also be "electric" and playful at the same time, e.g. the 8th symphony or maybe a sonata like op.31/3.
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 MusicTurner

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4588 on: December 13, 2021, 03:11:14 AM »
- Appassionata with Gilels, Moscow 1961
- Opus 111 with Gould

Offline Holden

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4589 on: December 13, 2021, 03:44:22 AM »
- Appassionata with Gilels, Moscow 1961

Absolutely the best Op 57. Richter's 1960 Moscow performance was close to that.
Cheers

Holden

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Recommendation for Beethoven's piano sonatas
« Reply #4590 on: December 13, 2021, 05:16:46 AM »
For a complete set, given your preferences, I would say Kovacevich on EMI would be the best fit.
+1


PD

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Recommendation for Beethoven's piano sonatas
« Reply #4591 on: December 13, 2021, 07:13:24 AM »
For a complete set, given your preferences, I would say Kovacevich on EMI would be the best fit.

Also the first set, which came to my mind after reading the OP.
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Offline George

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Re: Recommendation for Beethoven's piano sonatas
« Reply #4592 on: December 13, 2021, 04:01:13 PM »
Also the first set, which came to my mind after reading the OP.

Great minds think alike.   8)
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Recommendation for Beethoven's piano sonatas
« Reply #4593 on: December 15, 2021, 04:24:44 AM »
+1


PD

Yes. I have that set. And like most of it. I actually find Kovacevich too much to handle in the Appassionata specifically... but maybe that's a good sign.
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Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Recommendation for Beethoven's piano sonatas
« Reply #4594 on: December 15, 2021, 04:44:14 AM »
Great minds think alike.   8)
Don't know his earlier recordings of them.

Yes. I have that set. And like most of it. I actually find Kovacevich too much to handle in the Appassionata specifically... but maybe that's a good sign.
To be honest, it's not my favorite set--though I know a lot of people think well of it.  Most of his playing is not my cup of tea.  I'm more of a Kempff or Gilels gal.  I thought though that the person asking for a recommendation (see higher up in the thread) would like them though.

PD

Offline Jo498

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4595 on: December 15, 2021, 05:04:24 AM »
The earlier Philips Kovacevich has only 8 sonatas op.10/1,13, 31,2+3, 101, 109-111, better sound and is less relentless. I had 3 or 4 discs of the EMI recordings and got rid of all but op.2 and I don't really like that one very much. Therefore could never be bothered to get the whole box when it became dirt cheap.
Gulda and Pollini have been charged with being nothing but fast and relentless but I think this fits better for Kovacevich/EMI and the unpleasant sound gives them an even more brutal edge.
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 Madiel

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4596 on: December 16, 2021, 02:13:00 AM »
I had 3 or 4 discs of the EMI recordings and got rid of all but op.2 and I don't really like that one very much.

If I recall correctly, he re-recorded op.2 for the box (or by the time the box was released).
I am now working on a discography of the works of Vagn Holmboe. Please visit and also contribute!

Offline lordlance

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4597 on: December 19, 2021, 12:58:02 PM »
Thanks for the recommendations, people. Because of certain circumstances, I happen to download all of Hewitt's Beethoven discs on Hyperion. Any thoughts on them? I am hearing No. 25 at the moment and it's well-played as far as my ears can tell. I heard Vol. 8 and 9 and am now going through Vol. 7.

Offline Todd

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4598 on: February 16, 2022, 06:17:31 PM »





For about a half dozen sonatas, I did an A/B between Boris Giltburg and Jingge Yan in much the same manner that I did with Minsoo Sohn and Konstantin Scherbakov, but I quickly realized that the new duo did not rise to the level of Sohn, so my interest waned, so now there is only the broadest of comparisons to make.  In general, Giltburg is the more interventionist of the two, always fiddling with this or that – dynamics, rubato, etc – sometimes obtrusively, most of the time not, but it’s not for people who want their Beethoven straight-forward.  His style does no real favors to the early sonatas, always sounding too fiddly.  But come the middle sonatas, his style works better, including in an excellent Op 31 trio and quite good, if not world-beating Op 5x sonatas.  The late sonatas do not measure up to the best, but his playing always sounds intriguing, and his execution is quite fine.  Yan is more straight-forward, though he, too makes sure to inject personality in a way some may not like as much.  In general, his early sonatas work well, sounding brisk, energetic, and mostly no-nonsense.  He maintains a similar demeanor in the middle sonatas, which does not work as well, though he’s generally not bad at all.  I write “generally” because the second movement of Op 54 is a dud, and Op 57 mostly sounds slow and stiff.  Yan recovers splendidly in Opp 78 and 79, and then moves into nice enough late sonatas.  Both end up in the third tier, though I suspect I will spend more time revisiting Giltburg in the coming years.






Figured I might as well finish off another cycle, too, by listening to Angela Hewitt’s last installment.  It is not the highlight of her cycle.  Op 106 takes just over of 46’, and while slow approaches can work, hers does not.  It just bores, straight throughout.  I kinda dozed off in the Adagio during the first listen – for real.  Never a good sign.  Op 111 comes in at a chunky 31’+.  The first movement lacks bite and drive, and the second movement, while lovely at times, just doesn’t work.  With one notable exception.  During the last trill chains, Hewitt plays the left-hand part with a perfect blend of delicacy and weight and clarity that really makes it stand out.  While it cannot make up for everything, it nonetheless captivates.  A fourth-tier cycle for me.  YMMV.
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Offline Todd

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4599 on: February 16, 2022, 06:21:11 PM »
With three new cycles down:

Top Tier – The Holy Tetrarchy
Annie Fischer (Hungarton)
Friedrich Gulda (Amadeo)
Wilhelm Kempff (DG, mono)
Wilhelm Backhaus (mono)

[Rudolf Serkin; OK, he didn't complete a cycle, but this is where he belongs]


Top Tier – The Rest of the Top Ten (sort of in order)
Wilhelm Kempff (DG, stereo)
Eric Heidsieck
Russell Sherman
Andrea Lucchesini
Emil Gilels
Daniel-Ben Pienaar

[Sviatoslav Richter; OK, he didn't complete a cycle, but this is where he belongs]


Second Tier - Cycles 11-20 (in alphabetical order)
Artur Schnabel
Fazil Say
Francois Frederic Guy
Kazune Shimizu (Sony)
Minsoo Sohn
Paul Badura-Skoda (JVC/Astree)
Takahiro Sonoda (Evica)
Wilhelm Backhaus (stereo)
Yu Kosuge
Yusuke Kikuchi


Second Tier - Remainder (in alphabetical order)
Bernard Roberts
Claude Frank
Daniel Barenboim (EMI, 2005)
Eduardo del Pueyo
Friedrich Gulda (Orfeo)
Maurizio Pollini
Michael Levinas
Peter Takacs
Robert Silverman
Rudolf Buchbinder (Unitel)
Seymour Lipkin
Takahiro Sonoda (Denon)
Younwha Lee

[Bruce Hungerford; OK, he didn't complete a cycle, but this is where he belongs]


Third Tier (in alphabetical order)
Aquiles Delle Vigne
Abdel Rahman El Bacha (Mirare)
Akiyoshi Sako
Alfred Brendel (Philips, 1970s)
Alfred Brendel (Vox)
Alfredo Perl
Andras Schiff
Boris Giltburg
Claudio Arrau (1960s)
Claudio Arrau (1980s)
Craig Sheppard
Daniel Barenboim (DG)
Daniel Barenboim (EMI, 1960s)
David Allen Wehr
Dieter Zechlin
Friedrich Gulda (Decca)
Garrick Ohlsson
Gerard Willems
Gerhard Oppitz
Ian Hobson
Ichiro Nodaira
Igor Levit
Irina Mejoueva
Jingge Yan
John O'Conor
Jonathan Biss
Konstantin Scherbakov
Kun-Woo Paik
Louie Lortie
Malcolm Bilson, et al (Beghin is second tier)
Malcolm Binns
Michael Houstoun (Morrison Trust)
Michael Houstoun (Rattle)
Michael Korstick
Paul Badura-Skoda (Gramola)
Pavaali Jumppanen
Peter Rösel
Robert Silverman (AudioHigh)
Rudolf Buchbinder (Teldec)
Sequeira Costa
Stephen Kovacevich
Stewart Goodyear
Wilhelm Kempff (1961, King International)
Yaeko Yamane
Yves Nat


Fourth Tier (in alphabetical order)
Abdel Rahman El Bacha (Forlane)
Aldo Ciccolini
Alfred Brendel (Philips, 1990s)
Andre De Groote
Angela Hewitt
Anton Kuerti
Christian Leotta
Daniel Barenboim (DG, 2020)
Dino Ciani
Georges Pludermacher
Idil Biret
Ikuyo Nakamichi
Jean Bernard Pommier
Jean Muller
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
Jeno Jando
John Kane
John Lill
Konstantin Lifschitz
Llŷr Williams
Mari Kodama
Maria Grinburg
Martin Rasch
Martino Tirimo   
Melodie Zhao
Paul Lewis
Richard Goode
Robert Benz
Robert Taub
Ronald Brautigam
Rudolf Buchbinder (RCA)
Sebastian Forster
Steven Herbert Smith
Steven Masi
Timothy Ehlen
Vladimir Ashkenazy
Walter Gieseking (Tahra)
Yukio Yokoyama


Bottom Tier (in sorta particular order)
HJ Lim
Rita Bouboulidi
Tatiana Nikolayeva
Anne Oland


Eighth Circle of Hell
[Glenn Gould; OK, he didn't complete a cycle, but this is where he belongs]

The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson