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25.5.09

Beethoven Sonatas - A Survey of Complete Cycles
Part 2, 1967 - 1975


Incl: D.Barenboim IP.Badura-Skoda ID.CianiC.FrankM.GrinbergGulda IIE.HeidsieckA.Kuerti • R.Riefling • T.Sonoda ID.Zechlin




Complete Beethoven Sonata Survey on ionarts

Complete Beethoven Sonata Survey on ionarts

Maria Grinberg

1964 - 1967 - Melodiya


This was available only in individual volumes, and spottily at that, until recently... Now the recordings have been re-released by Melodiya in a convenient box earlier this year (2013)!

Availability:


Country / Label USA UKFrance Germany
Melodiya
1-2-3-4-
5
-6-7-8-9


1-2-3-4-5-
6-7-8-9


1-2-3-4-5-
6-7-8-9

1-2-3-4-5-
6-7-8-9
Melodiya 2013
Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes



Complete Beethoven Sonata Survey on ionarts

Complete Beethoven Sonata Survey on ionarts

Complete Beethoven Sonata Survey on ionarts



Friedrich Gulda II

1967 - Amadeo / Decca

Friedrich Gulda's second set came at the very height of his technical facility and blew the (perceived) cobwebs off the 'heroic' Beethoven sonatas. It is a marvel of consistency and wondrous for the speed with which Gulda breezes through these works with a sense of joy and occasionally irreverence.

Although I have other favorites for about every individual sonata (save the Moonlight) this is my go-to and reference set (even as Backhaus II remains my favorite). More intense than Kempff, never lumbering like Kuerti, nor professorially sincere like Schiff, consistently more engaging in the late Sonatas than Ashkenazy, more flexible than Backhaus, not as patricianly flowing as Arrau, Gulda somehow manages to combine a highly personal reading with a compromising stance that appeals to the many rather than offending most. It could be argued that the "fresh" approach isn't necessary anymore and that Gulda has a tendency toward the superficial, but to my ears that does not detract from this astonishing achievement.

This cycle is part of what makes Brilliant's Complete Beethoven Edition so attractive and I've written a bit about it for WETA. [Links dead.]

Availability:


Country / Label USA UKFrance Germany
Decca/Eloquence
Import


Yes


Yes


Yes

Brilliant
oop


oop


oop


oop

Decca Australia

Import


Import


Import


Import




Complete Beethoven Sonata Survey on ionarts



Dieter Zechlin

1960 - 1969 (?) - Eterna / Berlin Classics


Availability:


Country / Label USA UKFrance Germany
Edel
Yes


Yes


Yes


Yes




available at Amazon


available at Amazon



Daniel Barenboim I

1965 - 1969 - EMI

Daniel Barenboim is one of the few pianists who have recorded the complete cycle trice (Twice on CD, once on DVD). Quantity doesn't necessarily make up for quality, though, and I have yet to truly appreciate either of his two first surveys or even watch his third.

Availability:


Country / Label USA UKFrance Germany
EMI 1998
Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes
EMI 2012
Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes



Not available



Robert Riefling

1960 - 1970 (?) - Valois

Robert Riefling, 1938 Queen Elizabeth Competition winner, studied with Kempff and Edwin Fischer, among others.

Not currently available and to my knowledge never issued on CD.






Complete Beethoven Sonata Survey on ionarts



Claude Frank

1967 - 1969 - RCA Victrola


Availability:


Country / Label USA UKFrance Germany
Music & Arts

Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes



Complete Beethoven Sonata Survey on ionarts



Takahiro Sonoda I

1968 - 1969 - Denon

Apparently one of the grand figures in Japanese music and someone of whom I hitherto, somehow, knew nothing. He is to have recorded the complete Beethoven sonatas three (!) times, as only Barenboim and Brendel have (so far). I cannot track down the third (there may be confusion on this point, as he also issued an edition of the Beethoven sonatas as scores), but this one on Denon can still be found.

Availability:

Country / Label Japan UKFrance Germany
Music & Arts

Yes


No


No

Yes



Complete Beethoven Sonata Survey on ionarts

Complete Beethoven Sonata Survey on ionarts



Paul Badura-Skoda I

1969 - 1970 - Gramola

Paul Badura-Skoda's "Viennese" Beethoven survey on a Boesendorfer Grand. Overshadowed at the time by the more famous to have come just before him and those who would come just after him, but a connoisseur's Echt-Austrian cycle. The cycle had been released previously on Intercord on LP and I presume (unless I find out otherwise) it is identical to the one that appeared on the Musical Heritage Society's recordings for Beethoven's bicentenary in 1970. Gramola has internationally re-released the set in late last year (Nov. 2012), so it should have become more readily available.

Availability:


Country / Label USA UKFrance Germany
Gramola
Indirectly


Yes


Yes

Yes
Gramola 2012
Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes



available at Amazon



Dino Ciani

196? - 1970 - Dynamic

Live, and notably so.

Availability:


Country / Label USA UKFrance Germany
Dynamic
Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes



available at Amazon


available at Amazon



Eric Heidsieck

1967 - 1973 - EMI France


Availability:


Country / Label USA UKFrance Germany
EMI 1995
used


used


used

used
EMI 2006
Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes



available at Amazon



Anton Kuerti

1974 - 1975 - Analekta

One of the first complete sets of the Sonatas I had, and ever declining in my estimation. Wherever Kuerti is very slow (which he is very often), the speed does not seem to be justified by an equivalent increase in musicality, lyricism, or other notable facet. And where Kuerti isn't very slow, he does not impress with the polished technique that many of the competitors display. Interesting, but hardly essential.

Availability:


Country / Label USA UKFrance Germany
EMI
Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes


This listing of all Beethoven Sonata Cycles will continue as more sets reach completion or as I find more information about sets already completed.* There are certainly plenty sets under way that should or may reach completion soon: Among them Angela Hewitt (Hyperion), Igor Tchetuev (Caro Mitis), Jonathan Biss (Onyx), Paavali Jumppanen (Ondine), Yusuke Kikuchi (Triton) et al. I will also add a selection of historically important attempted cycles that were never finished but include >20 sonatas. That would add Rudolf Serkin (CBS, 10 sonatas missing), Bruce Hungerford (Vanguard / Piano Classics, also 10 sonatas missing), Emil Gilels (DG, opp.2/1, 14/1, 54, 78, 111), and Glenn Gould (CBS/Sony, opp.7, 22, 49, 53, 79, 81a, 90 missing, op.106 separate, opp.7 [partly], 49/1, 101 available on CBC recordings).


* If you count, as I did, Backhaus II and Arrau II as complete, despite one and two (respectively) missing sonatas. I do not count Walter Gieseking (tapes of 4, 5, 7, 20, 22 for a radio cycle are lost, a studio cycle for EMI was missing seven sonatas when he died), Wilhelm Kempff "0" (Polydor, opp.2/3, 22, 27/1, 28, 31/2, 101 missing).

Part 1: 1935 - 1969

Part 3: 1977 - 1989
Part 4: 1990 - 1996
Part 5: 1996 - 1999
Part 6: 2000 - 2005
Part 7: 2006 - 2009
Ronald Brautigam Special
Part 8: 2010 - 2013
Part 9: 2014 - onward


If you have additional information about recording dates, availability, cover art -- or corrections and additions -- your input is much appreciated.

This survey is meant to list all complete sets of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas and their availability in different markets, not to review them.

4 comments:

glebowski said...

Uniquely on this site ..this sequence of pieces re Beethoven is inconsequential and ... rather pointless.An element of compression or brevity would obviously be part of such a review but to me much of it seems a sequence of brief insulting responses to artists trying to interpret some of the musical peaks of Western civilisation. Some receive no "review"I am bemused ...

jfl said...

Perhaps a misunderstanding causes your response to this.

This survey is not intended to be a review, it is merely to list all Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycles made -- as well as their availability. Comprehension is only claimed to the extend that I am trying not to miss any cycles, not that I heard them all and can say something meaningful about each one.

The brief comments on those releases I know well enough are just that: comments.

Barry said...

As for the "Moonlight" I've been after EMI for years to release Christoph Eschenbach's recording of the work. Have you heard it? The opening movement has to be the slowest ever recorded and I find it absolutely gripping. I convinced the folks there to release that 2CD slim double a few years ago, but it frustrates me to no end that three more sonatas (the "Moonlight" included) have never been released on CD.

As for complete cycles, don't forget Robert Taub's excellent cycle on Vox (preferable to his first foray on Harmonia Mundi).

jfl said...

Taub's on my list (which is ~70 cycles strong, now) and will be part of the fourth or fifth installment.

I've not heard Eschenbach's LvB. I think I may have the gEMIni double disc of the late sonatas, but as you say, it wouldn't include op.27/2, anyway.