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3.6.09

Beethoven Sonatas - A Survey of Complete Cycles
Part 4, 1990 - 1996


Incl: C.Arrau IIA.R.El Bacha • R.Benz • M.Bilson & Co • A.Brendel IIIR.GoodeI.Hobson • M.Levinas • J.O'ConorA.Perl



available at Amazon

Claudio Arrau II

1984* - 1990 - Philips France (Arrau Heritage Edition)

Arrau, who started to record a cycle for Walter Legge with Columbia between 1947 and 1960 (only 11 sonatas were recorded), went on to produce one of the most cherished cycles for Philips in the 60s. Twenty years later, near the summit (if not technical peak) of his career, he recorded them again, this time in digital sound. Notably good digital sound, it should be pointed out. Broad interpretations meet with unforgiving clarity and regal rigor. Arrau died before he could re-record opp.27/2 and 106 which are taken from the earlier cycle. A 1952 Deutsche Grammophon Diabelli Variation recording is added as a bonus.

Availability:


Country / Label USA UK France Germany
Philips
Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes



available at Amazon

Complete Beethoven Sonata Survey on ionarts



Michaël Lévinas

1984 - 1991 -
Adès

Most of this cycle was recorded between 1988 and 1991, played on a Steinway.

Availability:


Country / Label USA UK France Germany
Ades

Used


Used


Used


Used

Adès 2014

(Import)


Yes


Yes


Yes




available at Amazon



Abdel Rahman El Bacha I

1984 - 1993 - Forlane

Availability:


Country /
Label
USA UK France Germany
Forlane
No


Yes


Yes

Yes



available at Amazon



John O'Conor

1986 - 1994 - Telarc

Availability:


Country / Label USA UK France Germany
Telarc
Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes




available at Amazon

available at Amazon



“St. Petersburg Collective”

1992 - 1993 - Bomba Piter / Audiophile Classics

This cycle was put together shortly after the demise of the Soviet Union, bringing together some of St. Petersburg's finest pianists (as per the label's description of this project). The participating pianists are: Dmitri Efimov, Pavel Egorov, Igor Lebedev, Roman Lebedev, Galina Sandovskaya, Vladimir Shakin, Sergey Uryvaev, Igor Urjash, Valery Vishnevsky, Tatyana Zagorovskaya, and Leonid Zaychik. The cycle has been re-released on Audiophile Classics. On either label, it's only available on individual volumes: 10 for Bomba Piter, ditto for Audiophile Classics, but on the latter label you can also get Igor Lebedev's Diabelli Variations on an eleventh disc. For lack of a name and single pianist to pin this cycle to, I'll call it the "St. Petersburg Collective" cycle.


Availability:


Country / Label USA UK France Germany
Bomba Piter
Individ.


Yes


Yes

Yes
Audiophile
Individ.


Mebbe


Yes

Yes



available at ArkivMusic



Robert Benz

1988 - 1995 - Thorofon

Available only in individual volumes, and those spottily only.


Country / Label USA UK France Germany
Thorofon
No


(Yes)


(No)

Yes



available at Amazon

available at Amazon




Richard Goode

1989 - 1993 - Nonesuch

Considered by many not just the great 'native' American sonata cycle, but one of the very best modern cycles anywhere. Understated and cool. I've heard some of this that has had the greatest of promise, and I remember being turned off by the late sonatas... but I can no longer recall whether that was justified. If I were to get another LvB Sonata Cycle, this one is atop the list of those that intrigue me. Edit 10/2017: Happily it's been re-released in a space and money-saving wallet-style box by Warner.

Availability:


Country / Label USA UK France Germany
Nonesuch 1995
Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes
Warner 2017
Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes



available at Amazon



Ian Hobson

1992 - 1996 - Zephyr

Availability:


Country / Label USA UK France Germany
Zephyr
Yes


(Yes)


(Yes)

Yes



available at Amazon

available at Amazon



Alfredo Perl

1992- 1996 - Arte Nova / Oehms

Arte Nova & Oehms were ownership-intertwined at one point, which explains the occasional overlap in their issues. (I.e. also Stanisław Skrowaczewski's exemplary Bruckner Cycle.) The recordings are identical; the Oehms re-issues tend to be packaged considerably nicer.

Availability:


Country / Label USA UK France Germany
Arte Nova

Used


Used


Used

Used
Oehms

Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes



available at Amazon

available at Amazon



Alfred Brendel III

1992 - 1996 - Philips (digital)

This cycle dominated the digital age and contributed in good part to Brendel being the face of Beethoven for so many listeners.

Availability: Reissued on Decca


Country / Label USA UK France Germany
Philips

(Yes)


(Yes)


(Yes)

(Yes)
Decca

Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes



available at Amazon


Malcolm Bilson
& Students
199? - 1996 - Claves

Played by Bilson and six students of his, on nine different fortepianos from around the time of the composition dates of the respective sonatas.

Availability (other than directly from Claves):


Country / Label USA UK France Germany
Claves
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), Akihiro Sakiya (DPIC Entertainment), Martin Roscoe (Deux-Elles), James Brawn (MSR), Paavali Jumppanen (Ondine) [Completed & Added], Yusuke Kikuchi (Triton) [Completed & Added] et al. I will also add a selection of historically important attempted cycles that were never finished but include >20 >9 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). There are seemingly abandoned cycles that will not be included, such as those of  Giovanni Belluci,  Bruno Leonardo Gelber,  Yoshihiro Kondo, or  Per Tengstrand. There are cycles that are unworthy of discussion or outright fraudulent, i.e. not actual piano playing and/or of excrutiating quality and/or cobbled together from other performances. Most famously Joyce Hatto, but apparently also Vladimir Morrone, Giancarlo Andretti, Alicja Kot, and Claudio Colombo.**

* 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).

** Invaluable research on this end done by Todd, resident Beethoven-Sonata expert (and addict) at the Good Music Guide Forum.


The (Great) Incomplete Cycles
Part 1: 1935 - 1969
Part 2: 1967 - 1974
Part 3: 1977 - 1989

Part 5: 1996 - 1999
Part 6: 2000 - 2005
Part 7: 2006 - 2009
Ronald Brautigam Special
Part 8: 2010 - 2013
Part 9: 2014 - 2016
Part 10: 2017 - ____


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 | Beethoven Symphony Cycles Index | Beethoven String Quartet Cycles | Bruckner Symphony Cycles | Dvořák Symphony Cycles | Shostakovich Symphony Cycles | Sibelius Symphony Cycles | Mozart Keyboard Sonata Cycles



1 comment:

David Engel said...

I think Claudio Arrau's performance of the Beethoven Sonatas is hard to beat. Loved watching him play the Arietta from Sonata No. 32 in The Art of The Piano. Stunning.

David
http://www.globalaroundtown.blogspot.com