Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
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[popple]

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I am new to the Classical scene and have been listening to a fair amount of Beethoven, particularly his Piano Sonatas.

I was just wondering which would be the best recording of his Sonatas would be? I am interested in his 3rd and 14th Sonata.

Just out of interest, which are the best recordings of his Symphonies?
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by [popple]
I am new to the Classical scene and have been listening to a fair amount of Beethoven, particularly his Piano Sonatas.

I was just wondering which would be the best recording of his Sonatas would be? I am interested in his 3rd and 14th Sonata.



I like Schnabel's (193x recordings). But for a beginner i think it's better election Barenboim.

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Originally Posted by [popple]
Just out of interest, which are the best recordings of his Symphonies?


'Best' it's a difficult word.
I own a lot of versions: Furtwangler, Sanderling, Jochum, Harnoncourt, Klemperer, Karajan... I like a lot the 'dancing' style of Sanderling (the six symphony specially) but each of them has his virtues.

Don't forget to Listen to the Piano Concertos, Harnoncourt/Aimard/Chamber Orchestra of Europe are a good new recording.
 
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Tyson

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I believe that Kempff's sets (he has 2, one stereo, one mono) are probably the best overall sets out there, especially for a person just getting to know these works. Barenboim is not bad, but Kempff is better, IMO. Another set worth checking out is Arrau.
 
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Tyson

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Wow, not much love for these works either? Shocking! I figured there'd be a huge response to this, as the 32 sonatas are pretty much one of the pillars of western music.

And just to contribute a little more to the thread, I'd say AVOID the Brendel stereo set of sonatas on Philips (not the most recent one, but the one before that), it is rumintive, ponderous, mannered, and boring.

Another set that I DO recommend is the Goode set. His is pretty much a "straight" approach (just the facts, ma'am), but it is over all very good. And of course, any and all recordings by Gilels or Richter are must haves.
 
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I thought the series that Artur Pizarro did for BBC (still up on their site) was pretty good. Also interesting to hear his commentary on them.
 
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My excuse.....
I don't have any complete set of Beethoven piano sonatas since I don't really care for solo instrument works except in small doses......therefore I only have a few misc best Beethoven piano sonata Cds and have no desire for complete set.

I do break my rule above a bit for Bach and have several Cds of main keyboard works......but really I much prefer concertos or orchestral works.
 
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kiwirugby

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I have to respectfully disagree with Tyson's dismissal of Brendel. I think his readings, past and more recent, are very insightful, with some really wonderful inner voicing, light pedalling, and really braod structures in the late sonatas.

All that being said, I concur with the suggestion of Kempf, whoc porvides real consistent quality across the entire spectrum of the sonatas.
 
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Bunnyears

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I have the complete Kempf (stereo) and the Arrau sets, used to have Schnabel on vinyl (borrowed permanently by college friend), and have some Serkin and Rubinstein as well. I also have the recently released Ronald Brautigam SACD/Hybrid of Sonatas , Op. 13 ("Pathétique"), Op. 14 Nos. 1 & 2, Op. 22. It's been released as volume 1, so I presume there will be more installments (hopefully). Brautigam plays the fortepiano, and I was really surprised at how beautiful and dynamic the instrument sounded. It really is a must have recording. The sound quality on both the stereo and sacd layers is excellent.

I also have some Pollini late sonatas, which are played with his usual athleticism and are very interesting. Kempf tended to be more romantic and traditional, but he also maintained slower tempos especially in the Hammerklavier, which killed the wonderful rhythms. I read somewhere that Kempf had said something about Beethoven being deaf and therefore making a mistake with his tempo markings, which is the type of statement that cannot be supported.

Serkin although drier and more restrained, is probably the most moving for me. Arrau was muscular and romantic and as always elicited a wonderful tone from his instrument. Unfortunately, the Kempf and Arrau are only available in sets now and are expensive. The Pollini is more readily available in smaller selections as is much of Serkin, of which I recommend his Expanded Edition. The recording has the three famous named sonatas: Moonlight, Pathetique and Appasionata along with a previously unpublished live performance of Les Adieux, which is more than worth the price of the recording!

I also have some John O'Conor. He is also very plummy, and tends to use the pedal a lot. I have his recording of the Waldstein and the sound of the recording itself is not of stellar quality, although the interpretation is of high quality. I haven't heard his late sonatas so I can't say anything about them, but the recording quality on the one I have didn't encourage me to buy more.

I also wasn't crazy about Earl Wild. Although his virtuousity cannot be faulted, I don't quite like his esthetics.

I wish I could say that one of these sets was definitive, but with Beethoven I need to pick and choose.

Edit:
Tyson,

You are probably aware that for keyboard instruments Bach's Well Tempered Klavier is called the Old Testament while Beethoven's Sonatas are called the New Testament. Personally, I can't understand how anyone couldn't just love them.
 
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Bunnyears

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Just took the latest Rubinstein remaster of the "famous" sonatas out for a spin, and it really doesn't disappoint. The new sound quality is so pristeen and Rubinstein's technique had not faltered yet, so this recording is just a great starting point for anyone going into the Beethoven Sonatas. (along with the Serkin).
 
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Tyson

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Yes, knew about the old testament and new testament. It tracks pretty well, with Bach being concerned with musical perfection, while beethoven was all about universal brotherhood and the human condition


Love those Rubinstein remasters from the Rubinstein Edition. The sound is vastly improved and his musicianship comes through so much more clearly.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Tyson
I believe that Kempff's sets (he has 2, one stereo, one mono) are probably the best overall sets out there, especially for a person just getting to know these works. Barenboim is not bad, but Kempff is better, IMO. Another set worth checking out is Arrau.


I think we already had this thread
. It seems everyone (including me) likes the Kempff, especially the early one. I think my overall favorite is the Arrau--excellent sound on that Phillips vinyl, too.
 
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Bunnyears

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Tyson
Yes, knew about the old testament and new testament. It tracks pretty well, with Bach being concerned with musical perfection, while beethoven was all about universal brotherhood and the human condition



Funny, I always thought of that OT/NT business differently. More according to the structure and dynamics of the music rather than any sociological bent of Beethoven. It always reminded me of Renaissance art, where the gothic style buildings symbolized the OT while the "newer" more classic style buildings (Brunelleschi, Bramante et al.) symbolized the NT. Similarly, Bach's very cerebrally architectural use of counterpoint and fugue with ornamentation along the lines contrast to Beethoven's cleaner melody lines and naturalistic and visceral dynamics. Compare Bach's opening Prelude in C major of the WTC, Bk1 and the use of broken chords to express melody to Beethoven's Für Elise (or Moonlight Sonata first movement), where again broken chords express the melody with different effect.

Btw, as a piano player, I've never seen a Bach score for violin or orchestra. Can anyone tell me if he put in crescendos or other dynamic markings like that? In the keyboard works they don't exist (ofcourse).

Putting it simply, Bach put us in touch with the power of music while Beethoven set free it's emotional range. (or perfection vs. humanity?
)
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bunnyears
Btw, as a piano player, I've never seen a Bach score for violin or orchestra. Can anyone tell me if he put in crescendos or other dynamic markings like that? In the keyboard works they don't exist (ofcourse).

Putting it simply, Bach put us in touch with the power of music while Beethoven set free it's emotional range. (or perfection vs. humanity?
)



I don't know the answer to your question, but to the second part I think Bach it's 'perfection and humanity'. If I think it twice, i can think the same of Beethoven music.
Perhaps it's a matter of balance between the two criteria. We tend to think that Bach is perfection and Beethoven is humanity.
But as a refute I had a big emotional experience reading the apocrypha Short Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach listening to Bach music (For example, the prelude of the first suite for cello solo or Matthaus Passion).
And the Diabelli Variations are an example of perfection (from almost nothing). Watch Piotr Anderszewski DVD / (Directed by Bruno Monsaingeon).

So in the end, perhaps that's why they are great composers: perfection and humanity.
 
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Tyson

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Put another way, IMO, Bach's music embraces God, while Beethoven's music embraces Man. Both are indeed emotional, but in very different ways.
 
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Shosta

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Tyson
Put another way, IMO, Bach's music embraces God, while Beethoven's music embraces Man. Both are indeed emotional, but in very different ways.


Good point of view.
But my point it's that Bach is emotional, very emotional and very human without thinking about spirituality and God.
Perhaps Beethoven has more 'phatos' but Bach, over that perfect, mathematical, 'semidivine' construction, it's human music about human feelings.
 
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