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#361335 - 11/25/01 12:08 PM beethoven late sonatas
Murray Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 8
Loc: Manitoba, Canada
Hi

I'd like some advice on a good recording of beethovens late sonatas. I'm thinking of either rosen or pollini but am open to any suggestions.

thanks

Murray

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#361336 - 11/25/01 12:28 PM Re: beethoven late sonatas
Brendan Online   content



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5299
Loc: McAllen, TX
Richard Goode
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#361337 - 11/25/01 01:31 PM Re: beethoven late sonatas
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17942
Loc: Victoria, BC
I would certainly go along with Richard Goode; his complete set is really quite wonderful. Some like Brendel, too.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#361338 - 11/25/01 03:08 PM Re: beethoven late sonatas
netizen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/01
Posts: 1926
Loc: New York
Hi Murray,

Of the two choices you present, I'd go with the Rosen recording. I've many recordings of the late sonatas, and Rosen's is easily in my top ten.

Of the others mentioned, I suppose I'd go with Brendel. You might also consider Jeno Jando's recording on Naxos (an inexpensive and sure-footed guide through the Beethoven sonatas).

Another thought... Freddy Kempf's recording of the late sonatas is, imo, stellar. In general, I'm not impressed with most young pianists handling of these works. But Kempf lacks nothing in the maturity department despite his age (I think he's like 24 or 25 years old). You can hear the first movement of op109 online: http://www.thump.org/freddy/music.html

Not as a first recording, but something to think about acquiring at somepoint is Schnabel's recording of the late sonatas.

Good luck and happy listening,
_________________________
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that
we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."-- Theodore Roosevelt

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#361339 - 11/25/01 04:39 PM Re: beethoven late sonatas
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
I would take Backhaus's Beethoven Sonata cycle before Schnabel's. In fact, Backhaus would be my first choice overall. I have started listening to some of Goode's recordings, namely the Mozart piano concerti, and I am very impressed with what I have heard so far. I am going to try to pick up some of his Beethoven Sonatas soon to see what I think.

Ryan

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#361340 - 11/27/01 01:06 AM Re: beethoven late sonatas
Murray Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 8
Loc: Manitoba, Canada
Thanks for all the suggestions. I've heard that Goodes Beethoven cycle is well thought of but I'm not in the market for the whole set of sonatas until I have a better idea what I'd like (I already have trouble explaining all these cd purchases to my wife) ;\)

I do have #30 & 32 by Schnable in his volume from the great pianists series and I see that backhaus'volume in the same series has a good sampling of beethoven sonatas so I may give it a try.

Netizen, hows the recording quality on rosens late sonatas.

One final question about pollini- what are some of the drawbacks of his recording of the sonatas; I have his recording of Schumanns piano concerto and fantasia and quite enjoyed it.

Also how about gilels?

thanks (and sorry for the rambling)

Murray

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#361341 - 11/27/01 01:24 AM Re: beethoven late sonatas
Mat D. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 512
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
Hi Murray,

Goode is a good all around choice. Richter is always great--Wilhelm Kempff is my personal favorite if I had to pick one Beethoven Sonata set; his is a beautiful, less 'heavy-handed' Beethoven. You can sense Kempff's love of the music in his playing.

Your question about Pollini...Pollini is a 'perfect' pianist and thus sometimes sounds a bit clinical. I know it's crazy, but that is the peception at times. I prefer a Richter performance--mistakes & all!! If only i could make those same mistakes...

Try to find Richter or Wilhelm Kempff performances of late Beethoven--

[ November 27, 2001: Message edited by: Mat D. ]

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#361342 - 11/28/01 08:58 AM Re: beethoven late sonatas
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
I second the W. Kempff for late Beethoven sonatas. Particularly those of his first complete sonatas recording.

Charles Rosen's are rather analytical and academic. Good for an entirely different approach.

For Op.111 (#32) nobody can touch that of Claudio Arrau, IMHO. Not even Schnabel...

Rgds,
AndrewG

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#361343 - 11/28/01 09:00 AM Re: beethoven late sonatas
Murray Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 8
Loc: Manitoba, Canada
Thanks for the suggestions Mat. I have Kempff's moonlight,pathetique and pastoral on one disc but no beethoven richter. I've read somewhere that Kempff late sonatas are at a slower tempo than some.

p.s. took your advice about Lupu's shubert impromtus on a desert island recordings string a while back-its probably my favorite recording I now own.

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#361344 - 11/28/01 09:08 AM Re: beethoven late sonatas
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
Not only the late sonatas. Kempff played everything a tad slower than the 'norm'. His 'Fur Elise' is one of the best recording of this much maligned masterpiece.

Kempff's Schubert sonatas traversal on DG is my treasured set.

His 4-CD set of Schumann piano works is probing and memorable...

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#361345 - 11/28/01 09:37 AM Re: beethoven late sonatas
Murray Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 8
Loc: Manitoba, Canada
Thanks Andrew. I always look forward to your suggestions as well. When did Kempff do his first beethoven cycle you mentioned-I presume before the 60's version that I have one disc of.

Murray

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#361346 - 11/28/01 09:48 AM Re: beethoven late sonatas
Hank Drake Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/01
Posts: 1659
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
I've only heard the second, stereo, cycle of Kempff's Beethoven--and I adore it. In general, his fast movements tend to be slower than average, but his slow movements tend to be slightly faster than average. The result is that the structure of these works emerges more clearly.

Here is the review I wrote for Amazon:

Dollar for Dollar, the Best Beethoven Sonatas on CD

Beethoven's piano sonatas were one of humanity's great achievements. They have been recorded by many pianists including Artur Schnabel, Alfred Brendel, Richard Goode, and John O'Connor--and nearly every pianist of note has recorded at least a few of the most popular sonatas.

What makes the Kempff set work best for me is the lack of a dogmatic, cookie cutter approach to the music. Kempff approaches each piece as a masterwork in its own right. The tempos are more sensible than those adopted by most other pianists, particularly in the slower movements. For example, in the Hammerklavier Sonata, most pianists cannot resist the urge to play the Adagio almost as a Largo--ignoring the fact that such a tempo would have made the movement incomprehensible on a piano of Beethoven's time--which had a quick tonal decay. Speaking of tone, Kempff has an especially beautiful sound--a product of his 19th century training. The phrasing is more flexible than today's "red light, green light" stop and go approach, and Kempff, unlike so many of today's pianists, never lets musical point making get in the way of the big picture, structually.

Although Kempff was getting along in years when these recordings were made--the 1960s--he is fully up to the technical hurdles these sonatas contain. The only disappointment on this set is in the "Appassionata" Sonata, where Kempff's clear headed approach does not suit this rage filled piece. For that particular piece, it's best to go with Richter's RCA recording. On the whole, this is the best set of Beethoven Sonatas currently available on CD--and it's at bargain price!
_________________________
Hank Drake

The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
George Szell

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#361347 - 11/28/01 10:51 AM Re: beethoven late sonatas
Mat D. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 512
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
Hank,

Excellent review--I agree.

Andrew, thanks for mentioning the Schumann 4disc set. I don't own it, but it certainly would look good on my Christmas list! I have the Schubert Sonatas set & it is great as well.

BTW, Kempff's Bach transcriptions are absolutely wonderful as well--the voices sing individually & collectively--It's a treasure.

Regards,
Mat D.

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#361348 - 11/28/01 10:58 AM Re: beethoven late sonatas
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
Thanks Mat,

for mentioning Kempff's Bach Transcriptions. I have the DG 2-fer. It is more than excellent. Is this the set you're talking about or something else? Just curious.

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#361349 - 11/28/01 11:01 AM Re: beethoven late sonatas
Mat D. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 512
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
Andrew,

Yes, that is the set--fabulous!

Mat D.

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#361350 - 11/30/01 12:26 AM Re: beethoven late sonatas
netizen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/01
Posts: 1926
Loc: New York
Hi Murray,

Sorry for the late reply to your question. The sound quality of Rosen's recording of the late sonatas is really quite good -bearing in mind the age (late 60's/early 70's). But, far and away, the most recommending aspect is Rosen's playing itself. The suggestion that Rosen's set is "academic" is, in my view, unfortunate. Rosen is sometimes trivialized or stereotyped as an "academic" pianist. This is plainly wrong. Rosen was lionized as apianist long before establishing himself as a writer about classical music. Of his New York debut, Virigil Thomson said, "He will be the pianist of our dreams." I don't think that prophecy has (or is likely) to be realized, but Rosen is clearly a most brilliant and passionate pianist. Over the years, the tone of his playing has become somewhat harsh. (A few years back I heard him play the Schumann Fantasy for a Master Class. I was quite disappointed). In the Beethoven set and other recordings, there is none of that. The performances are filled with a pianistic athleticism, fire, and imaginative grandeur that can only come from one who truly feels this music, and has the artistic and intellectual wherewithal to convey its profundity. In these and other recordings, one understands why Rosen was so admired by folks such Stravinsky, Thomson, Bernstein, Gould, and others.

As a first complete set, I would take perhaps Brendel's early Vox or the mono set of Kempf. Both I think are quite good as far as sets go --they all seem uneven in one way or another. Arrau is irritatingly slow and, in truth, his technique did not age-well. Listening to it I can't help but think of Liszt's witticism: "Happy is he who knows how to break things off before being broken by them." I would not consider it at all as a first set. Much of it's recorded when his best days were behind him, and his playing had slowed to glacial speeds (to be sure, this sometimes works, but mostly I find it painful). The music just seems to go nowhere and I suppose there are those who take slowness for profundity. There is available a set of recordings from his early years (some of the sound quality is pretty poor --this is very early stuff). In the early period of his career, Arrau's playing had the kind of pyrotechnics that can raise your hair. I recommend this set of early recordings to folks who want to know the greatness of Arrau. But his Beethoven, I'll pass.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/sto...8785463-7875938

Schnabel's is a set for the ages. I love the Op.110 and his handling of the early sonatas. He has cast a shadow that no pianist can easily escape, a fountain worth drawing from, even if one disagrees with much of it. I'll take Schnabel, finger-slips and all, over most others. (I sometimes think our ears, or at least our expectations, have been ruined by recordings that rely on multiple takes to churn out a "finished" product).

Apologies to all for this being so long a post.

[ November 30, 2001: Message edited by: netizen ]
_________________________
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that
we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."-- Theodore Roosevelt

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#361351 - 12/01/01 09:34 AM Re: beethoven late sonatas
Murray Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 8
Loc: Manitoba, Canada
Thanks for the reply netizen. I'm going to give both rosen and kempff's late sonatas a try (both are reasonably priced) and try to pick-up both backhaus I and richter II in the great pianist series down the road.

Does anyone have Ivan Moravec's beethoven vol 2 (sonatas 8,14,23 & 26) on VAI. Expensive but seems to be well thought of.

Thanks again
Murray

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