Author Topic: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle  (Read 1601 times)

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Offline Todd

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #40 on: July 14, 2022, 06:29:13 AM »
And Annie Fischer may have in fact been micromanaged. But to me it doesn’t sound it

Micromanaged is the last adjective I would use to describe Annie Fischer, in either live or studio recordings.  Micromanaged applies more to someone like Mitsuko Uchida.  Such an approach can work wonderfully - or not. 

The recording process for Fischer's cycle was micromanaged, but that is not uncommon.  Shlomo Mintz wrote about how it took over a thousand takes to record his version of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas.  When I read complaints about the studio recording process, it just seems odd, and randomly applied.  Studio recordings are not in-person performances.  They are attempts at idealized performances.  Sometimes the editing work is of a high order, sometimes not.  The recordings can still be very highly lauded.  Look at Glenn Gould.  Or look at Murray Perahia's Chopin Etudes, which was initially released with the last bit of music excluded.  If one dislikes studio recordings, then either unedited live recordings (rare) or 78s are the way to go. 
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #41 on: July 14, 2022, 11:59:05 AM »
Why would the heavy handedness be more suited to the late sonatas? The op 2s aren’t the world of a child, he was in his mid 20s when he wrote them

Yes, I think that we are all aware that he was not a child when he composed it. That is not the point. The point is simply a matter of personal opinion and preference on my part.
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Offline hvbias

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #42 on: July 15, 2022, 08:08:56 AM »
Quote
These Martzy LP prices are a pure collector's fad, virtually no connection to musical quality. I actually meant only the hungaroton cycle, I wasn't even aware that these old LPs were yielding high prices as I had had the comparably cheap Introuvables box for ages.

I was referring to the Hungaroton cycle as well. The author had Fischer and Backhaus (no recollection if he differentiated stereo from mono cycles) as among the best, and what also stands out to me is he spoke quite highly of Richard Goode, I have never seen mentioned as a cycle that gets high praise.

I am usually bored by Backhaus and like Fischer much better, even though I don't quite join the panegyrics of others.
Mostly, op.10/1+3, 13, 31/2, 53, 57, 106, 111. Of course there are dramatic movement in others, such as the "Moonlight" finale or the first of op.90. And there are other sonatas that can use a lot of energy despite not being so obviously emotional.
This is for me mostly a practical point, namely that most of these sonatas have been well covered in great recordings, often outside cycles. So I don't really find them problematic. (Or if they are, like inconsistent tempi in op.106 (although I came to not automatically disliking a slowish majestic first movement) or amw's complaint that I partly share, that most play the first movement of op.53 too slow and/or the Rondo too fast, are not likely to be better in yet another cplt box...)

Much harder to find good op.2/2, op.14 or others usually only covered in cycles. And they are often more of the lyrical/playful/brilliant (like op.2/3 or 7 or 22) kind. When over 20 years ago I got the Gulda box, after having had Gilels incomplete one for about to years and before that most of the sonatas cobbled together on separate discs, I was quite bowled over because of the energy and drive of many of these earlyish "lighter" pieces. By now, I agree that Gulda can be a bit slick and fast even in them but after Gilels (good in his way but often overly serious and weighty) it's still fresh and flowing. (Supposedly the recordings were done in summer 1967 withing a few weeks and few alternative takes.)

Opening movement of op. 53 I have found problematic for quite some time. There are only two I find exceptional and take it at an appropriate tempo - Josef Hofmann live recording from the late 1930s and R. Serkin from early 1950s on Columbia.

Tempest Sonata is another where too many pianists are “buttoned upon.” The usually cool, collected Gieseking turns in a wild performance from the early 1930s (Naxos has transferred this). I have not heard any other performance sound remotely like that, it sounds like Gieseking takes the name of the sonata quite literally even if that wasn't Beethoven's intent. It's entertaining.

Quote
I doubt I have ever seen them that cheap. Otherwise I would probably have bought the whole lot (or a few more) in my "buying lots of stuff"-time ca. 2003-13 ;)

What I mean is the box was about $100, or $11 per CD. The premium side as far as box sets go.

Quote
The Tipo Ermitage live concert with Chopin Ballades? I like this also a lot, it's one of the best Recital discs ever.

Yes, that is indeed one of the best recital CDs. That set of Chopin Ballades is my personal reference. The disc I am referring to is EMI studio with Waldstein and op. 109 (though there are some artifacts like pedal squeaking), I can’t recall the 109 from that Ermitage CD too well, but that could also be because I only reached for it to hear the Ballades.

Do you hear the piano as out of tune on that disc? I don't have perfect pitch, and it takes some of those pushed old Russian pianos to mostly notice this kind of thing.

I hate performances which sound micromanaged - that’s why I hate Lucchesini’s brilliant but self conscious and over refined Beethoven sonatas set. And Annie Fischer may have in fact been micromanaged. But to me it doesn’t sound it - the sound is too consistently tough for a micromanaged sound. To me Fischer sounds spontaneous! Although I’d prefer not to listen to either, I’d take Annie Fischer over Andrea Lucchesini in op 2/1 any day, though both are excellent of course. Lucchesini mentioned positively by someone above.

Very surprised to read that, spontaneous would be at the very top of my adjectives to use to describe Lucchesini’s cycle. You can even hear places where it sounds like his off the cuff playing pushes things too far, and the following bars are almost “compensating” a bit more reigned in. I saw him play D959 and it was a similar type of playing by feel, rather different from Volodos’ god like command.

Where I dock it are in places like Appassionata where Lucchesni plays with good tempo but lacking in recklessness and overall urgency. And I would still point listeners to sonatas like Pathetique that say he was incapable of playing ugly or dynamic enough. This sonata in particular stands out as I was listening to it at live levels and the left hand cords shook things.

If you want to hear Fischer at her least spontaneous try the Schumann Fantasie on EMI, it’s stiff and boxy.

Why would the heavy handedness be more suited to the late sonatas? The op 2s aren’t the world of a child, he was in his mid 20s when he wrote them - when I was 26 I was vigorous and muscular, and we all know that the younger you are, the more serious you are: as the great man said, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now. Annie Fischer’s musical tenseness and poetic intensity seems spot on in a young firebrand’s music. As far as uniformity is concerned, not everyone holds to the idea of three distinct Beethoven styles - I’d say Annie Fischer makes a good case for the uniformity of Beethoven’s music.

I stick to what I said yesterday. While I dislike the set enormously, I think it is brilliant and revealing. And I’d go as far as to say that it’s especially brilliant and revealing in op 2/1 for example.

I would not necessarily say it’s an age thing with Beethoven but the increasing number of hardships through his life. There is little humor or wryness from op. 81a onward, though playfulness does poke through. Is it a person that is wholly sane to write Grosse Fuge in late 1820s? Or variation 3 in op 111?

I lived in the US and Ireland through my twenties, the interest of all my peers was women and partying... introduced the Irish to Beirut, or beer pong if you're not from New England  ;D
« Last Edit: July 15, 2022, 08:30:50 AM by hvbias »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #43 on: July 15, 2022, 08:50:15 AM »
I was referring to the Hungaroton cycle as well. The author had Fischer and Backhaus (no recollection if he differentiated stereo from mono cycles) as among the best, and what also stands out to me is he spoke quite highly of Richard Goode, I have never seen mentioned as a cycle that gets high praise.

Opening movement of op. 53 I have found problematic for quite some time. There are only two I find exceptional and take it at an appropriate tempo - Josef Hofmann live recording from the late 1930s and R. Serkin from early 1950s on Columbia.

Tempest Sonata is another where too many pianists are “buttoned upon.” The usually cool, collected Gieseking turns in a wild performance from the early 1930s (Naxos has transferred this). I have not heard any other performance sound remotely like that, it sounds like Gieseking takes the name of the sonata quite literally even if that wasn't Beethoven's intent. It's entertaining.

What I mean is the box was about $100, or $11 per CD. The premium side as far as box sets go.

Yes, that is indeed one of the best recital CDs. That set of Chopin Ballades is my personal reference. The disc I am referring to is EMI studio with Waldstein and op. 109 (though there are some artifacts like pedal squeaking), I can’t recall the 109 from that Ermitage CD too well, but that could also be because I only reached for it to hear the Ballades.

Do you hear the piano as out of tune on that disc? I don't have perfect pitch, and it takes some of those pushed old Russian pianos to mostly notice this kind of thing.

Very surprised to read that, spontaneous would be at the very top of my adjectives to use to describe Lucchesini’s cycle. You can even hear places where it sounds like his off the cuff playing pushes things too far, and the following bars are almost “compensating” a bit more reigned in. I saw him play D959 and it was a similar type of playing by feel, rather different from Volodos’ god like command.

Where I dock it are in places like Appassionata where Lucchesni plays with good tempo but lacking in recklessness and overall urgency. And I would still point listeners to sonatas like Pathetique that say he was incapable of playing ugly or dynamic enough. This sonata in particular stands out as I was listening to it at live levels and the left hand cords shook things.

If you want to hear Fischer at her least spontaneous try the Schumann Fantasie on EMI, it’s stiff and boxy.

I would not necessarily say it’s an age thing with Beethoven but the increasing number of hardships through his life. There is little humor or wryness from op. 81a onward, though playfulness does poke through. Is it a person that is wholly sane to write Grosse Fuge in late 1820s? Or variation 3 in op 111?

I lived in the US and Ireland through my twenties, the interest of all my peers was women and partying... introduced the Irish to Beirut, or beer pong if you're not from New England  ;D

I don't know why people think there's something special about op 133. There are zillions of pieces in the same vein. To take a famous one, Mozart 394 fugue, not played on a modern piano clearly, try Staier and Schornsheim here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p74LipAPWCw&list=OLAK5uy_nssqUeVo2yz4Yp-VFQQG2Di69sQitt0Y4&index=9&ab_channel=ChristineSchornsheim-Topic)

You'd better point out something from Lucchessini's Beethoven for me to listen to which shows that he's not self conscious.

Op 131 is itself an example of playful humour (I mean not the fugue obvs.), as is op 111/var3.   The late music is full of that sort of thing (think Diabellies) And the early music is full of stuff which seems susceptible to being interpreted as somehow suggestive of life's hardships, most obviously the largo from  op 10/3 and La Malinconia -- the whole of op 18/3 sounds a bit like late Beethoven to me in fact.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2022, 09:12:15 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Elk

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #44 on: July 15, 2022, 09:19:50 AM »
Of the many interpretations of the Op106 Adagio I have listened to, most of which have been mentioned, the one I return to as the most sublime is the Naive recording of François Frédéric Guy. I do not know if the video is the same performance, but offer it for your delectation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LrPUAO3yQo

Offline Jo498

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #45 on: July 15, 2022, 10:35:07 AM »
I agree that late Beethoven is very humorous and quirky (and he has this already in early works but like most aspects they seem mostly more pronounced in the late music, but that K 394 is one of "zillions of pieces in the same vein as op.133" might be the most ridiculous thing I read in a long time... they could hardly be more different.

I cannot think of anything Beethoven wrote in a published work that sounds so much like a Bach/baroque copy as Mozart does here, certainly not op.133 that nowhere sounds like a baroque copy. Maybe the closest is the fugal development section of the op.101 finale or the fuge in the variations op.35, or something in the C major mass. As he wrote somewhere, he always tried for a "poetic" aspect in fugues which does not have to mean lyrical but apparently could also be ugly and percussive as in Diabelli #32 or op.133. It might just mean, not like a schoolroom exercise fugue (no matter how brilliantly done).
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #46 on: July 15, 2022, 11:09:38 AM »
I agree that late Beethoven is very humorous and quirky (and he has this already in early works but like most aspects they seem mostly more pronounced in the late music, but that K 394 is one of "zillions of pieces in the same vein as op.133" might be the most ridiculous thing I read in a long time... they could hardly be more different.

I cannot think of anything Beethoven wrote in a published work that sounds so much like a Bach/baroque copy as Mozart does here, certainly not op.133 that nowhere sounds like a baroque copy. Maybe the closest is the fugal development section of the op.101 finale or the fuge in the variations op.35, or something in the C major mass. As he wrote somewhere, he always tried for a "poetic" aspect in fugues which does not have to mean lyrical but apparently could also be ugly and percussive as in Diabelli #32 or op.133. It might just mean, not like a schoolroom exercise fugue (no matter how brilliantly done).

So is your "argument" that the salient difference between op 133 and K 394 is just that the former is beautiful and the latter is ugly?
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Offline Mandryka

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« Last Edit: July 15, 2022, 11:26:57 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline JBS

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #48 on: July 15, 2022, 11:33:39 AM »
From Youtube
Ms Fischer performing the Pathetique Sonata.
I must admit this does not match my memory of the Hungaraton set.
https://youtu.be/Zbzut1AKx4Q

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Offline aligreto

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #49 on: July 15, 2022, 01:13:04 PM »
From Youtube
Ms Fischer performing the Pathetique Sonata.
I must admit this does not match my memory of the Hungaraton set.
https://youtu.be/Zbzut1AKx4Q

Is that for better or for worse and why?
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Offline hvbias

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #50 on: July 15, 2022, 03:08:52 PM »
I don't know why people think there's something special about op 133. There are zillions of pieces in the same vein. To take a famous one, Mozart 394 fugue, not played on a modern piano clearly, try Staier and Schornsheim here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p74LipAPWCw&list=OLAK5uy_nssqUeVo2yz4Yp-VFQQG2Di69sQitt0Y4&index=9&ab_channel=ChristineSchornsheim-Topic)

You'd better point out something from Lucchessini's Beethoven for me to listen to which shows that he's not self conscious.

Op 131 is itself an example of playful humour (I mean not the fugue obvs.), as is op 111/var3.   The late music is full of that sort of thing (think Diabellies) And the early music is full of stuff which seems susceptible to being interpreted as somehow suggestive of life's hardships, most obviously the largo from  op 10/3 and La Malinconia -- the whole of op 18/3 sounds a bit like late Beethoven to me in fact.

I posted several Youtube links of Lucchesini on the previous page. And sorry I misread what you'd written, I see you called Fischer spontaneous, not Lucchesini as being unspontaneous. As for him being self conscious, I don't really understand what this means, I hear the music as flowing with brilliant legato and not hesitating/thinking about what he is playing. Self conscious to me is something that is overly mannered and tinkered with- ECM Schiff, some Brendel, Igor Levit come to mind. You said over refined and that I can see, but I also hear this in everything Kempff Beethoven related and it doesn't make his performances any lesser. I also did give the example of Pathetique Sonata on the previous page that Lucchesini can play ugly when called for, there are many other moments of rather powerful left hand playing throughout.

Among those three pieces you posted I hear nothing in common with op. 133 other than they are all fugues, this piece isn't heralded as something extraordinary because Beethoven wrote a fugue. One that might actually be a better example is BWV 1065. This is really dumbing things down and I could say a Haydn symphony being in sonata form and Mahler utilizing it in his symphonies make these analogous. No it's the sum of many things that made op. 133 sound like nothing else that came before it and possibly nothing else that came after it for many decades. I hate appeal to authority but Schoenberg is about a fine an authority that ever existed, and he praised it numerous times and not any other run of the mill fugue.

Jo498 - all true, I was thinking just in the context of the piano sonatas as this was what was being discussed.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2022, 03:12:05 PM by hvbias »
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Offline JBS

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #51 on: July 15, 2022, 03:19:05 PM »
Is that for better or for worse and why?

The video is better; none of the choppiness or sense of micromanagement that put me off on the Hungaraton.  I wouldn't use the word spontaneous but at least I can see why people think highly of her playing.
I should dig out the set (or at least listen to some of ones uploaded to Youtube) since it's been a few years.

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Offline Holden

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #52 on: July 15, 2022, 04:05:50 PM »


What are the dramatic sonatas for you? I find Appassionata particularly problematic in vast majority of pianists hold back the reigns. The gold standard for me is Richter from December 23, 1960, an unparalleled account.



I also thought that but it has been supplanted by another Neuhaus student - Emil Gilels. Not the rather tame version on DGG but a recording of a similar vintage to Richter's. It's a live performance in Moscow from 14 January 1961. It's equally as electrifying as Richter's and while both pianists do some parts better than the other, I feel that Gilels nailed it! However, Richter appears to play the third movement with a bit more clarity though that could be because the Gilels was not as well recorded. You can find the Gilels on Youtube   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIrHYoRrsho   and I suspect that it might be somewhere on Spotify, Tidal or Qobuz but will take a bit of searching. YT also has a live recording from the Prague festival of 1954 that's worth a listen.
Cheers

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Offline aligreto

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #53 on: July 15, 2022, 04:48:05 PM »
The video is better; none of the choppiness or sense of micromanagement that put me off on the Hungaraton.  I wouldn't use the word spontaneous but at least I can see why people think highly of her playing.
I should dig out the set (or at least listen to some of ones uploaded to Youtube) since it's been a few years.

Cheers and thank you for that response.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #54 on: July 17, 2022, 04:08:12 AM »
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 5-7  Op. 10 Nos. 1-3 [Fischer]





Well I have decided to continue listening to this set as I do not want to abandon a cycle such as this without giving it due and fair attention [at least more than four sonatas anyway].

I have determined to temper my listening with all of the advice that I have been given here recently as I listened to Op. 10 Nos. 1-3.
Taking on board this advice has changed my attitude slightly but enough for these presentations to become more tolerable to my ear. Making “allowances” for pointers from various members has indeed made some difference for me.

A simple adjustment was to turn the volume down while listening, removing some of the “loudness” issues a little.
Another area of “improvement”, since it has been pointed out, has been my appreciation of Fischer’s sensitivity in the respective slow movements of these works. Yes, there is also heavy piano banging but I now hear some of that energetic drive that has  been mentioned.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #55 on: July 19, 2022, 01:30:56 AM »
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 8  Op. 13 “Pathetique”  [Fischer]





I am very much hearing more of the spontaneity from Fischer alluded to earlier in the opening movement of this work. In the more animated passages I still suffer with the bass heavy notes of the lower registers but that is obviously a function of the instrument played and/or the recording.
The Adagio was very sensitively and expressively played. I felt, also, that the said lower register notes and chords were well controlled and balanced here.
The final movement was a sparkling performance.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #56 on: July 21, 2022, 01:55:22 AM »
Piano Sonatas Nos. 9 & 10  Opp. 14 Nos. 1 & 2 [Fischer]

I find the outer movements of Op. 14/1 to be robust but not overly assertive. The slow movement was just a tad too robust for my taste, though, in this work.

I simply had to post that I found the playing in all three of the movements of Op. 14/2 to be quite beguiling. It had charm and a lightness of touch for the greater part throughout the work that I had not heard/noticed before, thus far, in Fischer’s playing.
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Offline George

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #57 on: July 23, 2022, 04:19:03 AM »
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 5-7  Op. 10 Nos. 1-3 [Fischer]



Well I have decided to continue listening to this set as I do not want to abandon a cycle such as this without giving it due and fair attention [at least more than four sonatas anyway].

I have determined to temper my listening with all of the advice that I have been given here recently as I listened to Op. 10 Nos. 1-3.
Taking on board this advice has changed my attitude slightly but enough for these presentations to become more tolerable to my ear. Making “allowances” for pointers from various members has indeed made some difference for me.

A simple adjustment was to turn the volume down while listening, removing some of the “loudness” issues a little.
Another area of “improvement”, since it has been pointed out, has been my appreciation of Fischer’s sensitivity in the respective slow movements of these works. Yes, there is also heavy piano banging but I now hear some of that energetic drive that has  been mentioned.

Glad you are sticking with her set. I have found that some recordings and even pianists took quite awhile to grow on me. Backhaus's Beethoven wasn't to my taste at first, but it later became one of my favorites. And Richter's recordings did little for me at first and now he is my favorite pianist.

lt was with Beethoven sonata listening that I learned to listen in a diffirent way, to let go of expectations and try my best to take each performance as it comes, rather than comparing it to an ideal version in my head. In this way, I was able to appreciate performances that normally I would shy away from, stuff like Kempff's Beethoven, Backhaus's Beethoven and Arrau's Beethoven. I am grateful for this, for it helped me open my mind to recordings of other works by other composers. 

I don't say all of this because I think you have to like her Beethoven, or even that you should like it, just wanted to share my experience.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2022, 04:43:46 AM by George »
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Offline George

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #58 on: July 23, 2022, 04:34:34 AM »
This is a specific request for assistance with appreciating this specific cycle.



1. Are you familiar with this cycle?
2. Do you like it or not?
3. What do you consider to be its strengths and/or weaknesses?

1. Yes
2. I love it!
3. Consistency, power and expressivity.

If it helps, I'll leave you a list of the sonatas where I think she truly exels:

Op. 2, Nos 1 +2
Op. 10, Nos 1+2
Op. 14, No 1
Op. 27, Nos 1+2
Op 31, Nos 1, 2, 3
Op. 54
Op. 57
Op. 81a
Op. 90
Op. 101
Op. 109
 
« Last Edit: July 23, 2022, 04:36:08 AM by George »
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Offline Todd

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Re: Help with Annie Fischer’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle
« Reply #59 on: July 23, 2022, 04:35:47 AM »
St Annie's Op 57 smites all comers. 
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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