Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

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Belle
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Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

Post by Belle » Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:52 pm

I've been listening to and watching Kissin's Verbier Festival performance of Op. 111 and I must say it is a knock out!! The ending was particularly affecting and I was already weak at the knees by this stage. I'm used to Richter, Kovacevich and Brendel in this repertoire, but I'm finding Kissin is re-energizing my enthusiasm for this work: it's a real 'essay' and 'dramatic narrative' under his fingers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2beoK2wSng

maestrob
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Re: Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

Post by maestrob » Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:02 pm

Sorry, Belle, but Kissin still doesn't "get it." I wish I had a score so I could point to exactly where he slows down too much, but I don't. It happens in the development section of the second movement, where he slows to a snail's crawl in the treble clef section, and it's downhill from there: I simply couldn't listen further.

I, too, am used to Richter, of course, and I recommend Backhaus, Brendel, early Kempf (1930's), Russell Sherman or early Arrau (available on Decca now). Sorry to be so blunt, but we disagree strongly on this.

Belle
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Re: Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

Post by Belle » Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:49 pm

I follow the score every time I listen to these works and there are plenty of pianists who don't observe all the markings. I know the versions of which you speak but I prefer the Kissin because it gives me pleasure to hear him doing all those 'wrong' things with a particular freshness which also provides a renewed sense of the drama and 'narrative' direction of the piece. Kissin is a wonderful musician who is obviously thoughtful and intelligent and not an exhibitionist (like some modern pianists I won't name).

John F
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Re: Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

Post by John F » Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:23 pm

In addition to maestrob's favorite recordings, I'd add Egon Petri's, especially in the first movement and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli's especially in the variations. (Development? I don't get it.) Both are on YouTube.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

Post by Belle » Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:27 pm

And yet I've heard some people complain about Michelangeli's "idiosyncratic" performances. We've all got our preferences, obviously.

jbuck919
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Re: Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:22 pm

Funny thing about the Opus 111, unquestionably the greatest piano sonata ever written (and I know I will get flak for that). When I was in Maryland I heard over the radio a performance by the winner of the state high school competition, who played it as though he had composed it, and I am not exaggerating. His second piece was one of the Liszt concertos with the state school orchestra, the latter performing quite badly. Go figure. BTW, everyone please remember that this site is searchable. I simply put in Beethoven Opus 111 and this thread came up in the top ten postings.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Belle
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Re: Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

Post by Belle » Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:48 pm

My own preference is for Op. 109, though Op. 111 comes very close. I'm presenting a program on the Beethoven sonatas for our community music group later this year after having presented a preparation program a few weeks in advance on 'The Piano Sonata; its history and development'. I find I just can't stay away from this for very long.

Here's a comparative performance of Op. 109 by Goode and Levit. I note that the latter has just been awarded a major prize, but I've forgotten what it's called.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JZGiY--2LM

Goode seems in too much of a hurry in the first movement. Though it can be well served by virtuosic treatment I feel some of the interiorority of it (if I can put it that way) is lost with this approach. (See how easily the subject is switched from Op. 111!!). The third movement of Op. 109 always brings me to my knees. The first 36 bars and their repeat at the end of the variations - and what breathtaking variations! - are astonishing.

I suppose my comments about Kissin were really saying that I hear Op. 111 anew with him because I've always favoured Op. 109.

maestrob
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Re: Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

Post by maestrob » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:30 am

When one plays the variations movement of the Op.111 , the point where Kissin fails for me is exactly where he slows the tempo to a crawl: it should be done tempo primo, so one hears the silvery shimmering of the piano's treble notes.

The impulse to do something "new" infects every performer, and Kissin gave way to that impulse. I'm glad his idea was effective for you, Belle, but for me it's just plain egotism that's not in service to the music.

Incidentally, the reviews on American amazon are quite mixed, due to both interpretation and sound quality. I was contemplating buying this two-disc set, but now I shall not.

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Re: Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

Post by Lance » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:01 pm

Frankly, I was eager to hear Kissin's account. I have some reservations about his playing at times, but overall, an outstanding pianist especially as he gaines in age. I was both surprised and delighted to hear his Op. 111. My thoughts may change with some repeated listening. My favourite recordings have been first, Solomon's early 78-rpm recording which appeared (through EMI collaboration) on an RCA Victor LP, then appeared on EMI LPs/CDs, and finally on Testament along with another later recording of the work. He also recorded the work live. After that, it was Michelangeli's recording for Decca/London, appearing on LP first and subsequently appeared on CD. I thought Michelangeli was similar in interpretation to Solomon and consider it one of Michelangeli's best recordings. But we all have our ideas and our favourite recordings. Thankfully we have many to pick from, either singly, or in complete editions. Beyond that, another recent Op. 111 acquisition was with Claudius Tanski (MD&G), a pupil of Alfred Brendel, and who is a superb pianist in every way.
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maestrob
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Re: Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

Post by maestrob » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:22 pm

Lance wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:01 pm
Frankly, I was eager to hear Kissin's account. I have some reservations about his playing at times, but overall, an outstanding pianist especially as he gaines in age. I was both surprised and delighted to hear his Op. 111. My thoughts may change with some repeated listening. My favourite recordings have been first, Solomon's early 78-rpm recording which appeared (through EMI collaboration) on an RCA Victor LP, then appeared on EMI LPs/CDs, and finally on Testament along with another later recording of the work. He also recorded the work live. After that, it was Michelangeli's recording for Decca/London, appearing on LP first and subsequently appeared on CD. I thought Michelangeli was similar in interpretation to Solomon and consider it one of Michelangeli's best recordings. But we all have our ideas and our favourite recordings. Thankfully we have many to pick from, either singly, or in complete editions. Beyond that, another recent Op. 111 acquisition was with Claudius Tanski (MD&G), a pupil of Alfred Brendel, and who is a superb pianist in every way.
Thanks for the new names, Lance. I don't have Michelangeli, but I admire Solomon very much. I'm also intrigued by Claudius Tanski and will check him out.

Holden Fourth
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Re: Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

Post by Holden Fourth » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:56 am

Op 111 is a work that polarises opinion because of the many ways that it can be interpreted.

My first recording was Barenboim on EMI and he probably set the way that I like this work to be played. The Arietta is one of the most sublime pieces of piano writing ever composed IMO. What I want to hear is the ethereal nature of this movement and most pianists don't do it for me. The main reason, and I'll include Richter (one of my piano Gods) in this, is that it is played too fast. The inner ebb and flow of the piece is lost.

Pianists who do slow it down and make it work include Barenboim (EMI). But the guy who really nails it is Arrau. His 1970 Paris performance on a Classic Archives DVD is just sublime.

If Kissin has followed suit I'd be interested to hear it.

Belle
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Re: Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

Post by Belle » Sat Jan 13, 2018 7:05 am

What do you think of Pollini in 2012?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndv73B-pVas

Holden Fourth
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Re: Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

Post by Holden Fourth » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:05 am

So I bit the bullet and clicked on the Youtube link and immediately went to the part of the arietta after the variations. I've never been that impressed with Kissin in Beethoven but what I heard made me go back and listen to the whole sonata.

This gets a big thumbs up from me. It's not in the typical mold but it's a fresh and valid approach and it is well up there in top performances of this work.

Lance
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Re: Kissin's Beethoven Sonata Op. 111

Post by Lance » Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:56 pm

Glad to hear this from you! I was immediately impressed with the whole performance. Different from the "norm," so to speak, but nonetheless, very musical and interesting.
Holden Fourth wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:05 am
So I bit the bullet and clicked on the Youtube link and immediately went to the part of the arietta after the variations. I've never been that impressed with Kissin in Beethoven but what I heard made me go back and listen to the whole sonata.

This gets a big thumbs up from me. It's not in the typical mold but it's a fresh and valid approach and it is well up there in top performances of this work.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

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