V.Ashkenazy • P.Badura-Skoda II • D.Barenboim II • M.Binns • A.Brendel II • R.Buchbinder I • A.Fischer • J.Jandó • J.Lill • T.Nikolayeva • B.Roberts • M.Steinberg
|Alfred Brendel II|
1970 - 1977 - Philips (analog)
Not long after Brendel had finished these recordings, digital became the new thing in the recording industry and so he would go about it for a third time shortly thereafter, recording what is--at least on CD--his most prevalent cycle.
Availability: Update: This cycle has now been re-issued as part of bringing the Philips recordings into the Decca fold... and include Brendel's first cycle of the Beethoven concertos with Haitink and the LPO (76/77). The Eloquence re-issue of the 70s cycle (in the mildly controversial AMSI-ambience remastering) meanwhile includes the Chicago/Levine Concerto recordings.
197? - 1977 (?) - L'Oiseau-Lyre
Played on different period instruments.
Never issued on CD.
Availability of last 5 Sonatas:
1976 - 1978* - Hungaroton
These performances were recorded phrase by phrase with retakes, cutting, pasting, and editing taking place as late as 1992 and even beyond Fischer's death. Has its (cult?) following.
(Also available on individual discs)
1975 - 1980 - ASV (Brilliant, Sanctuary)
1971 - 1981 - Decca
My first Beethoven Piano Sonata cycle of which especially the early sonatas hold up very well while I've become rather indifferent to much of the rest.
Rudolf Buchbinder I
1979 - 1981 - Telefunken / Telarc
Buchbinder is one of the worlds most avid Beethoven sonata edition collectors with over 18 complete editions in his library. (Interviews here & here.) This is his first Beethoven cycle, recorded for Teldec, and it includes just about all of Beethoven's pieces for solo piano, making it the most complete single-perfomer-cycle, next to Brautigam's. Re-released in 2012.
Daniel Barenboim II
1981 - 1984 - Deutsche Grammophon / Metropolitan
Barenboim, Take Two. Now for Deutsche Grammophon. The DG is apparently the soundtrack to video that was filmed at Palais Lobkowitz, Palais Rasumovsky, Palais Kinsky, and Schloss Hetzendorf… directed by none less than Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. It's been just re-released on Bluray (3 disc set + Barenboim on Beethoven interview) and DVD (5 individual discs).
1984 - Melodiya (Olympia (UK), DS Berlin, Scribendum)
What little I've heard about (but not of) this cycle, it must be uncompetitive in every regard. Recorded during a series of Moscow recitals over a few months in very early 1984.
1981 - 1984 - Nimbus
1981 - 1986 - Elysium LPs
Michael Steinberg (no relation to the music critic) and his Beethoven cycle were hard to track down. (Many thanks to Richard Winton, cousin of the recordings' producer, for essential information!)
Steinberg, a graduate of Yale University and Juilliard School of Music, long time pianist-in-residence at the Villa San Michele (Anacapri, Italy), taught in the Music Department of the University of Delaware. He made these recordings in 20 sessions in the Beethoven Halle, of Hannover's Stadthalle. Originally on 12 LPs, the set was briefly re-issued in the US as three box sets of three CDs each, but is now hopelessly out of print.
Paul Badura Skoda II
1978 - 1989* - Auvidis Astrée
Once available on 9 individual CDs. Not currently available in any form**. Played on seven different fortepianos and Hammerklaviers, ranging from a 1790 Schantz PF to a 1824 Conrad Graf HK.
(*Not 1993, as I had previously thought. Hence the 'wrong' inclusion in Part 4 at first, instead of here.)
Edit: The set has just been re-released on XRCD24s in Japan (where else). **It can be found used, albeit only for a pretty penny, on European Amazon sites.
1987 - 1989 - Naxos
Naxos' pianist for all seasons seems to have recorded the complete-anything. Some Haydn I have of his is very amiable stuff, but the little I've heard of his Beethoven is too bland for making me explore it further.
On individual discs. (Two 5-disc sets containing the cycle have since been discontinued.)
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).
The (Great) Incomplete Cycles
Part 1: 1935 - 1969
Part 2: 1967 - 1974
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.
Discographies on ionarts: Bach Organ Cycles | Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycles I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX | Bruckner Symphony Cycles | Dvořák Symphony Cycles | Shostakovich Symphony Cycles | Dvořák Symphony Cycles | Sibelius Symphony Cycles