Incl: R.Brautigam • P.Lewis • J.Muller • I.Nakamichi • G.Ohlsson • G.Oppitz • K.W.Paik • A.Schiff • S.Sugitani • P.Takács • D.Varínska
2003 - 2006 - BMG Japan
Ikuyo Nakamichi studied under Mitsuko Kinpara, Phyllis Rappaport (Michigan), Kazuhiko Nakajima and Prof. Klaus Schilde at the Hochschule fur Musik in Munich on a scholarship from the Japanese Ministry of Cultural Affairs. In 1982 Nakamichi won first and the Masuzawa Prize at the 51st Annual Japan Music Competition.
Available in Japan and:
2004 - 2006 - Hänssler
Oppitz' Beethoven cycle flew under the radar, compared to those of Schiff and Lewis, but it is, along with those two, one of the most notable to have been produced in this decade. I've not come across anything fancy in this cycle, but some astonishingly fine playing.
Availability (previously in eight individual volumes, now also as a box):
1992 - 2007 - Bridge (Arabesque)
Availability (in eight individual volumes):
2001 - 2007 - Cambria Records
Extraordinarily complete and lavishly presented set of 11 SACDs that includes all 38 (!) Sonatas ("Elector Sonatas" WoO 47 1-3, "Two Easy Sonatas" WoO 50 & 51, Sonata for Four Hands in D-major, op.6) and the Andante favori WoO57.
2004 - 2007 - ECM
Schiff used a Boesendorfer and a Steinway Grand for these recordings, taped live (except for the last three sonatas) and played in sequence. A review of volume one exists here. Charles has reviewed several other volumes as they came out.
Availability (in eight individual volumes):
2004 - 2007 - Harmonia Mundi
Availability (in four volumes and complete):
2005 - 2007 - Decca (Korea)
Perhaps Decca sent up a test-balloon in the West when they released one volume of this cycle world wide. After that it was back to releases for the Asian (Korean?) market only.
Availability of Sonatas 16-26 (complete set only in Asia):
???? - 2007? - IDC Classic
Not available as far as I know. (Volume 11 found on HMV.co.jp)
???? - 2009? - Diskant
Available (9 of 11? volumes) from Slovakia or in Japan.
2003 - 2008 (& beyond) - BIS
Among the myriad of new Beethoven cycles flooding the market, this is one of the select few that are consistently exciting, fresh, and superbly played throughout. The fact that it uses original instrument helps, but it isn't the key to this cycle's qualities, nor the key to enjoying it. The instruments (delightful, marvelous Paul McNulty creations) sound so great that even the "HIP-averse" ought to sample and see if they can't be converted. Volumes 1-8 contain all the standard 32 sonatas, volume nine all the non-standard sonatas, and the following volumes all the Bagatelles, Piano Pieces, and Variations. This makes this the most complete cycle by one pianist, ahead of Peter Takács' (see above).
Update:The complete set has now been released, on SACD, as below.
2007 - 2009 - Bella Musica
Live recordings from a young Luxenburgian pianist.
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 3: 1977 - 1989
Part 4: 1990 - 1996
Part 5: 1996 - 1999
Part 6: 2000 - 2005
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.
There are still cycles that I have overlooked or which are still missing vital information. Many of them were/are only distributed on the Asian market. Any further information about these would be much appreciated. Many thanks to Richard Winton, at this point, for vital help confirming the existence of--and supplying information for--Michael Steinberg's cycle (originally on Elysium LPs).
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