Beethoven's 32

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barney
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Beethoven's 32

Post by barney » Sat Jul 18, 2020 12:07 am

From the Spectator
Some delightfully acerbic asides. I love his comment on Levit, though it may well be unfair - perfect example of how to slap someone in passing.


Damian Thompson
Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas were his musical laboratory – here are the best recordingsThe sonatas are where Beethoven’s imagination catches fire most unpredictably
From magazine issue: 18 July 2020


If you want to understand Beethoven, listen to his piano sonatas. Without them, you’ll never grasp how the same man could write the hummable, easy-listening Septet of 1799 and the scraped dissonances of the 1825 Grosse Fugue, which even today scares Classic FM listeners.

It’s the 32 sonatas, not the nine symphonies or 16 string quartets, that join the dots. The symphonies are monuments rather than a guidebook. For example, the Second doesn’t warn you that the Eroica is about to explode in your face. The quartets, meanwhile, jump from the six of Opus 18, in which Beethoven essentially pours new wine into old bottles, to the three Razumovskys of Opus 59, by which time he has moved to another planet. In fact, only seven years separate the two groups of quartets; the change in Beethoven’s musical language seems bewildering unless you know the 13 piano sonatas he published between 1799 and 1806, in which he’s clearly planning to launch into space.

The sonatas are Beethoven’s laboratory. The opening bars of the Pathétique are the first proper eruption of Beethoven’s turbulent ‘C minor style’. The finale of the Hammerklavier sonata plunges us into the harmonic violence that makes the Grosse Fuge so shocking. And in the A flat Piano Sonata, Opus 110, we enter the sound-world of his late string quartets.

It’s in the sonatas that Beethoven’s imagination catches fire most unpredictably. The piano was his instrument. He used it to make mischief without explaining himself to posterity — or the performer. Pianists still struggle to make sense of the slapstick desynchronised chords of the G major sonata, Opus 31 No. 1, and the brutal double octaves that interrupt the minuet of the F major Piano Sonata, Opus 54.

The most perceptive performances of Beethoven’s sonatas tend to come from pianists who play all of them. Likewise, the most superficial readings come from cherry-pickers who splash around in the Appassionata or try to milk the profundities of the late sonatas while ignoring the rest. That’s why I like complete cycles. Alfred Brendel recorded three. So did Wilhelm Kempff, if you include his 1961 recitals from Japan; he also nearly finished one on shellac. Wilhelm Backhaus produced two. Although these three pianists sound nothing like each other, they allow Beethoven to speak for himself. That’s also true of Artur Schnabel, of course, and if he’d been born later he’d have left us more than one set. Alas, what might have been the greatest cycle of all, by Solomon, was cut short by a stroke.

Dozens of pianists have recorded all 32 sonatas. I’d single out the neglected Yves Nat, Maria Grinberg and Eduardo del Pueyo, plus the celebrated Stephen Kovacevich and Richard Goode. Equal to any of these is ‘Ashtray Annie’ Fischer, though you have to put up with her piano’s ear-splitting treble.

And now a bunch of pianists have finished cycles in time for Beethoven’s 250th anniversary. Two of them, by Jonathan Biss and Angela Hewitt, are exquisitely played without a hint of coarseness. And that’s the problem. Sometimes Beethoven wants you to bang away like a pub pianist. So, as they say on Building a Library, it’s time to bid them farewell. And let’s lose Igor Levit, who rushes through movements without letting them breathe, presumably impatient to get back to his day job as a left-wing Twitter megabore.

Two new cycles cry out to be heard. Konstantin Lifschitz, recorded live by Alpha, takes huge interpretative risks: the Arietta of Opus 111 is almost motionless, which would be a crime if it didn’t descend into unforgettable tonal darkness. Fazil Say on Warner has a way of lifting individual voices out of the texture and letting them argue with each other, with thrilling, if unpredictable, results.

But one new cycle sweeps all before it, by a pianist old enough to be the 50-year-old Say’s father. Martino Tirimo was born in Cyprus in 1942. His command of structure is achieved with such fleet fingers that I wondered if it had been recorded decades ago. Not so: Hänssler commissioned him to record every note that Beethoven wrote for solo piano, and it’s all new.

If Tirimo were a lesser pianist, then the selling point of his 16-CD set would be its completeness. But here is a Waldstein, an Appassionata, a Hammerklavier and a final trilogy that match or surpass any recent competitors. I compared Richard Goode and Martino Tirimo in the finale of Op. 109. Goode invites us to marvel at the kaleidoscopic colours of his pianism, and we do. Tirimo reveals the profound logic of the movement’s variations without giving in to the temptation to stop and sniff the roses. It’s decades since a pianist has managed to convey such an overwhelming sense that we’re listening to pure Beethoven. And there are 20 hours of it — surely the greatest recorded achievement of this anniversary year.

Ricordanza
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Ricordanza » Sat Jul 18, 2020 6:24 am

I haven't listened to all of Igor Levit's Beethoven sonata recordings, but his rendition of the last five sonatas compares favorably with any others I've heard. This writer's hasty dismissal of Levit is undeserved.

jserraglio
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by jserraglio » Sat Jul 18, 2020 7:23 am

Here is Levit in early July playing the LvB 2. Sounds pretty good to me.

https://www.br-so.com/video/igor-levit- ... ser-moest/

Currently listening to Ikuyo Nakamichi whose rendition of the LvB sonatas on YT is complete.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xd53kYwuTus


barney
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by barney » Sat Jul 18, 2020 8:59 am

Ricordanza wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 6:24 am
I haven't listened to all of Igor Levit's Beethoven sonata recordings, but his rendition of the last five sonatas compares favorably with any others I've heard. This writer's hasty dismissal of Levit is undeserved.
Did you get the feeling it might be partly political? Spectator is pretty right-wing, Levit is rather to the left. Even so, I found the put-down amusing. I have a few Levit recordings, and they are spectacularly good. No Beethoven though.

maestrob
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by maestrob » Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:10 am

Interesting take on several obscure pianists I haven't heard, so I'm tempted to investigate. Annie Fischer is a set I've been longing to own for quite some time: I have a few singles, and they are extraordinary. The swipe at Igor Levit is, indeed, gratuitous, but the several sonatas I heard online were recorded in a rather hollow sound, so I have not purchased the set. Interesting that this is a right-wing rag. There is also no mention of Barenboim, another leftist, who has also recorded the sonatas now three times, the latest a live set from Berlin that has received high praise. Also, no mention of Arrau, or the Beethoven specialist Russell Sherman, whose towering interpretations, however individual, have remained in print since publication. Neither is there any mention of Gilels, Schiff or Pollini, all of whom rank highly in my estimation, although Pollini's playing is rather cool in comparison to others.

So this article is hardly a complete survey of all the greats, but, like most reviews, merely a personal point of view on the recordings that the reviewer has heard. Incidentally, the reviewer expresses admiration for Richard Goode, as do many others, but I find Goode's approach rather clipped cold and sterile, freely admitting that's just me.

Thanks, Barney. An interesting starting point for discussion, surely.

Rach3
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Rach3 » Sat Jul 18, 2020 1:16 pm

barney wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 8:59 am
Did you get the feeling it might be partly political? Spectator is pretty right-wing, Levit is rather to the left.
Bingo !

Holden Fourth
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Holden Fourth » Sat Jul 18, 2020 6:36 pm

I like quite a lot of what I've heard of Levit's playing of the LvB sonatas but like all sets, there are areas where what he tries doesn't work. The first movement speed in the Waldstein tends to get away from him being one example.

I've decided to take the article's author at his word and am sampling Tirimo's from the works he mentioned. I've already dispensed with the Waldstein. It lacks the drive and forward momentum needed to make this piece viable. The Appassionata is playing now and if this thread is still going I'll report back with my thoughts on the late works. The first movement sounds quite good.

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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Lance » Sun Jul 19, 2020 1:49 am

I'm happy that Damian Thompson put Artur Schnabel into the group. That is my go-to set because of the scholarly and studied way Schnabel presented the sonatas, and I loved his Bechstein piano sound. When we think of recording during the 78-rpm era, it was amazing that the artist could give such a wonderful piece of work that is still considered by bible of Beethoven interpretations by many.

I would also concur with Thompson's remark about Solomon, who never finished his set due to a stroke. That was tragic. In excellent sound, it is a pity he was not able to complete the cycle. We all have our favourites of the complete sets, and in many cases, of individual recordings. I have long had the Richard Goode but don't turn to it frequently. Gieseking, too, was never able to complete his set, nor Gilels or Frederic Lamond. I often turn to the DGG mono recordings of Wilhelm Kempff, which I thought far superior to his later stereo recordings. Of course, Brendel cannot be left out of the mix (especially his first Vox and his second go-around for Philips, nor can Claudio Arrau. "Ashtray Annie" Fischer's recording on Hungaroton is also a fine set, though she personally didn't approve the release from what I have read. Another not mentioned is Anton Kuerti that I have enjoyed. Others include the Kovacevich-Bishop, Yves Nat, del Pueyo, and of course, Backhaus's traversals, Badura-Skoda, Friedrich Gulda, and many others. Pollini has never been a first choice for me.

In the end, I am very content with what I have amassed over the years and have enjoyed- and learned from all of them. I mean, truly, how many can we really have and listen to with any regularity? If we lived 250-300 years, it would certainly give us more time to gather and hear more! But then that's true about nearly everything in the art of living!
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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barney
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by barney » Sun Jul 19, 2020 1:53 am

Holden Fourth wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 6:36 pm
I like quite a lot of what I've heard of Levit's playing of the LvB sonatas but like all sets, there are areas where what he tries doesn't work. The first movement speed in the Waldstein tends to get away from him being one example.

I've decided to take the article's author at his word and am sampling Tirimo's from the works he mentioned. I've already dispensed with the Waldstein. It lacks the drive and forward momentum needed to make this piece viable. The Appassionata is playing now and if this thread is still going I'll report back with my thoughts on the late works. The first movement sounds quite good.
Thank you. I love it when people do my work for me! :D But of course you can't really, because it's so deeply personal.

Holden Fourth
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Holden Fourth » Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:47 am

I'm a pianist (or at least I was thanks to cubital tunnel syndrome - I have surgery on Wednesday). I am also a Beethoven fanatic. I've played most of the sonatas (probably poorly) but loved trying to perform them.

My first exposure to them was a Kempff mono LP of 8/14/23. It inspired me to learn Op 27, against my teachers wishes and to explore further recordings. This, thanks to the long defunct World Record Club was where I first heard Solomon play the Waldstein and Schumann's Carnaval on the same LP.

I now have, like you Barney, numerous LvB sonata recordings. You mentioned Annie Fischer - she's up there for me along with Kempff mono, Schnabel and Brendel for complete sets.

There are two pianists who I wish had the opportunity to complete the 32 but were robbed of the opportunity. Already mentioned is Solomon Cutner. Less appreciated is Bruce Hungerford. He had ten to go when he was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. Apparently, the Hammerklavier was sitting above his keyboard ready for practice.

barney
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by barney » Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:35 am

Well, the very best of luck with the surgery. I'm sorry to hear you need that, but hope it improves your life immeasurably.
You may not know that (if I remember aright) Bruce Hungerford was the much admired teacher of one of our leading CMG members. But I'll leave him to take up this thought if he wishes.
My favourites change by mood, but Kempff and Brendel are absolutely up there. Also Gilels. Barenboim, Pollini, Perahia, Richter, Schnabel all have their charms. As an Australian, you may know Gerard Willems. I have expressed my intention to get the Levit, but I'm still undecided. Richard Goode is much admired, but I have none of him.

maestrob
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by maestrob » Sun Jul 19, 2020 11:10 am

Just a quick observation: I have the box set of sonatas that Gieseking recorded, and find them extremely cold and hard. Very difficult for me to listen to. Totally unlike his Debussy, which is quite magical. Agree about Solomon. Schnabel holds a special place in my heart. Lance, as well. The Kempff stereo set was recorded at a time when he simply couldn't manage several difficult passages, and it's sad to listen to. Of course the mono set for DGG is better. Kempff's Schubert Sonatas are quite magical. I lean toward Brendel's later set of Beethoven for Phillips, personally, but YMMV. Like Barenboim's early set for EMI, Brendel's early renderings for Vox are quite good, but they lack the perspective and thoughtfulness of later versions. Fascinating to hear the evolution of great artists, however.

Frankly, I just don't have a favorite, although again I'm amazed that the article makes no mention of Richter! However, please don't pass over Russell Sherman's extraordinary set just because he's so obscure.

Holden, I wasn't aware that you are a pianist. Please post more often on piano matters, and good luck with your surgery. :)

Rach3
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Rach3 » Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:29 am

Recent performances of the complete 32 here from Radio France by several pianists, many unknown to me, live videos sans audience.I'm going to sample at least Op.110 , Op.31,#3, Op.79 today, maybe others later.

https://www.francemusique.fr/concerts?p=2

barney
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by barney » Thu Aug 06, 2020 11:21 am

Holden Fourth wrote:
Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:47 am
I'm a pianist (or at least I was thanks to cubital tunnel syndrome - I have surgery on Wednesday). I am also a Beethoven fanatic. I've played most of the sonatas (probably poorly) but loved trying to perform them.

How did your surgery go last month? Did you have it or was it postponed? As you know, in Victoria we have postponed most elective surgery. If you did, I hope it wasn't too painful.

maestrob
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by maestrob » Thu Aug 06, 2020 11:33 am

barney wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 11:21 am
Holden Fourth wrote:
Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:47 am
I'm a pianist (or at least I was thanks to cubital tunnel syndrome - I have surgery on Wednesday). I am also a Beethoven fanatic. I've played most of the sonatas (probably poorly) but loved trying to perform them.

How did your surgery go last month? Did you have it or was it postponed? As you know, in Victoria we have postponed most elective surgery. If you did, I hope it wasn't too painful.
Yes, indeed! Inquiring minds want to know. :)

Holden Fourth
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Holden Fourth » Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:09 pm

Thank you for asking.

The surgery went very well and the healing process has been quite remarkable. I go back to work on Monday with some restrictions for a month that won't really affect my job. I just have to think abut what I am doing with my right hand.

I have a set of exercise to try and restore function and this will take a minimum of six months. I personally don't think that I will get full functionality and have resigned myself to the fact that my piano playing days are over. My brother is currently visiting from Perth so I've gifted him my Roland FP4F. At least it will get some use.

At least I can still listen.

maestrob
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by maestrob » Fri Aug 07, 2020 10:07 am

Holden--

Congratulations on the success of your operation. At least you'll be able to continue using your hand: that's important, for sure. Sad though that you won't be able to play, at least that's the prognosis for now. I've been through a similar experience, since I had to give up conducting and producing concerts in Carnegie Hall 18 years ago due to severe back trouble and an out-of-control sleep disorder that made my life unpredictable and still does.

Time heals all, I promise you. Making music, even listening, is an enriching and unforgettable experience of mastery, and it will stay with you and reward you for life.

barney
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by barney » Fri Aug 07, 2020 10:59 am

Well that's good. I was never able to play the piano after my back operation 30 years ago, but then - as the old joke goes - I couldn't play it before, either. My mother, a concert pianist and teacher, had the same operation (perhaps), but she was able to play again.

maestrob
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by maestrob » Fri Aug 07, 2020 12:15 pm

barney wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 10:59 am
Well that's good. I was never able to play the piano after my back operation 30 years ago, but then - as the old joke goes - I couldn't play it before, either. My mother, a concert pianist and teacher, had the same operation (perhaps), but she was able to play again.
Barney! I didn't know you were a musician as well as an accomplished writer! :)

In spite of life's difficulties, our talents stay with us and enrich our lives as long as we are here.

My mother was an amateur pianist who could play Chopin quite well, but of course she chose to marry and raise me and my brother. She taught me to read music and theory while I was still learning the alphabet! This is how music gets passed on from one generation to the next, and it's the best way, I think. 8)

barney
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by barney » Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:15 pm

maestrob wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 12:15 pm
barney wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 10:59 am
Well that's good. I was never able to play the piano after my back operation 30 years ago, but then - as the old joke goes - I couldn't play it before, either. My mother, a concert pianist and teacher, had the same operation (perhaps), but she was able to play again.
Barney! I didn't know you were a musician as well as an accomplished writer! :)

In spite of life's difficulties, our talents stay with us and enrich our lives as long as we are here.

My mother was an amateur pianist who could play Chopin quite well, but of course she chose to marry and raise me and my brother. She taught me to read music and theory while I was still learning the alphabet! This is how music gets passed on from one generation to the next, and it's the best way, I think. 8)
Totally agree, Brian, about transmission. As it happens, I do have a special ability, very useful in Melbourne's lockdown, but not music-making. It is the ability to do not very much very happily. I don't know if you saw one of my favourite Covid memes. It has two polar bears on an ice floe. The first says to the second, "what are you doing today?" "Oh nothing." "You did that yesterday." "Didn't finish!" :lol:
I'm doing a vast amount of reading from political thrillers to history and politics. My knowledge is increasing, probably to no purpose whatsoever, but so what?
Last edited by barney on Sat Aug 08, 2020 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

Holden Fourth
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Holden Fourth » Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:37 pm

So how is life in lock down? If this is the 'second wave' we now know how to prevent it.

We've gone hardass here in QLD and locked out everybody apart from those who live in the border 'bubble'. If you're from NSW or VIC you aren't getting in! If you're a returning QLDer the only way you're coming in is by air and you will go into isolation.

My brother flew in from WA Friday last week. The security at BNE domestic is triple layered comprising of emergency workers, police and ADF (military for those non-Aussies) personnel. A flight from Sydney landed before them and he watched for 40 minutes as they went through the passengers with a fine toothed comb. Most were put on a bus for transport to 14 day lock down -many protesting about it. These are the dummies who can't or don't do their homework.

The one message that seems clear to all governments. If you are going to act then do it quickly. Don't wait around.

Rach3
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Rach3 » Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:14 am

barney wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:15 pm
As it happens, I do have a special ability, very useful in Melbourne's lockdown, but not music-making. It is the ability to do not very much very happily. I don't know if you saw one of my favourite Covid memes. It has two polar bears on an ice flow. The first says to the second, "what are you doing today?" "Oh nothing." "You did that yesterday." "Didn't finish!"

Wonderful !! 2 marks. My thoughts exactly.Virus " fatigue " can be worse than the virus ; be happy that " nothing " may save your life.

maestrob
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by maestrob » Sat Aug 08, 2020 9:50 am

Holden Fourth wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:37 pm
So how is life in lock down? If this is the 'second wave' we now know how to prevent it.

We've gone hardass here in QLD and locked out everybody apart from those who live in the border 'bubble'. If you're from NSW or VIC you aren't getting in! If you're a returning QLDer the only way you're coming in is by air and you will go into isolation.

My brother flew in from WA Friday last week. The security at BNE domestic is triple layered comprising of emergency workers, police and ADF (military for those non-Aussies) personnel. A flight from Sydney landed before them and he watched for 40 minutes as they went through the passengers with a fine toothed comb. Most were put on a bus for transport to 14 day lock down -many protesting about it. These are the dummies who can't or don't do their homework.

The one message that seems clear to all governments. If you are going to act then do it quickly. Don't wait around.
Yes, indeed! If only our government in the good ole USA would get it's act together, but things are a mess here, as you probably know. The only area of the country where people are relatively safe is in parts of the Northeast: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, etc. Thses states are now quarantining visitors from other areas of the country, and NYC has recently begun random inspections of cars, buses and trains coming in from outside Manhattan. It's the only way, and, I suspect, we'll have to lock down harder in the Fall when schools open part-time, at least that's the plan today. Indoor dining has never been approved here, and our subways shut down every night for scrubbing, something that hasn't happened in 100 years (usually they run 24 hours/day.).

As for doing nothing productively, both my wife and I have everything delivered except milk that we get from a corner drugstore. The only reason we go out (with masks on, of course) is for short constitutionals and essential doctors' appointments. The rest of the time we stay safely inside and educate ourselves, reading, online, or with music, or keeping up with friends here or by email & text. Some desperate restaurants are now offering outside dining because it's summer here: God help them when the cooler weather arrives soon.

Our health experts currently project a vaccine will be available early next year, but not sooner. Until then, those of us who haven't left the city are holed up in our apartments enjoying life the best we can, or working essential jobs with masks on hoping not to get sick. Our positive testing rate is way down to about 1% with these measures, and has held steady for a few months. If only the rest of the country were as sensible as we are, but they're torn apart by our political leadership, so cases are skyrocketing elsewhere. The U. S. now has the highest death rate in the world, and it's still climbing.

It's a sad state of affairs, and the Fall may only be worse. Our only hope is a change in leadership in Washington and the introduction of a successful vaccine, both of which are coming closer every day. If Congress doesn't approve a relief package soon, our economy will be severely damaged, and workers will suffer even more, losing homes and running out of food, especially state employees who will have to be laid off due to lack of revenue from sales and income taxes to pay their wages. Things here feel quite dire at the moment.

In the midst of all this, I have an eye operation scheduled soon, and my sleep disorder has started to malfunction again. Yes, I have good doctors, but they are overwhelmed by patients like myself that couldn't be serviced during the Spring lockdown. It tries one's patience, it does!

All people want now is a return to sensible leadership and normalcy. I suspect it will take us years to recover from this, not a V-shaped recovery at all.

The rest of the world is now looking at the USA with pity, and that's a new experience for me during my lifetime.

I don't know how to end this, except to ask for your prayers and good wishes for the future of our beleaguered and grossly mis-managed country.

Lance, if you read this and want to move this to the Pub, that's fine by me. It will be my first post there.

barney
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by barney » Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:04 pm

Lance wouldn't move my Beethoven thread to the pub, surely! :D But it would be lovely to see you there, Brian.
I love the US, as I have posted many times, and have hugely enjoyed my visits there. It makes me indescribably sad to see the country wracking itself apart on its various divisions, led, espoused and exacerbated from the White House. They do, of course, pre-date this Administration.
As the Spectator, an impeccably Right-journal, opined this week, it's amazing, given that Trump was elected to clean up "the swamp", how much further and deeper he had spread it. I sometimes wonder whether he even knows when he is lying. I really suspect he doesn't - he sees the world as he wants it to be, as a highly stable genius, and speaks as though it is so.

maestrob
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by maestrob » Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:43 pm

barney wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:04 pm
Lance wouldn't move my Beethoven thread to the pub, surely! :D But it would be lovely to see you there, Brian.
I love the US, as I have posted many times, and have hugely enjoyed my visits there. It makes me indescribably sad to see the country wracking itself apart on its various divisions, led, espoused and exacerbated from the White House. They do, of course, pre-date this Administration.
As the Spectator, an impeccably Right-journal, opined this week, it's amazing, given that Trump was elected to clean up "the swamp", how much further and deeper he had spread it. I sometimes wonder whether he even knows when he is lying. I really suspect he doesn't - he sees the world as he wants it to be, as a highly stable genius, and speaks as though it is so.
Thanks, Barney! I would be there, but I'm just not the kind of person that enjoys shouting matches, and while I enjoy Tarantella's musical postings, we surely don't agree on politics. I miss her musings here, just as an example.

Rach3
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Rach3 » Sat Aug 08, 2020 2:35 pm

Rach3 wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:29 am
Recent performances of the complete 32 here from Radio France by several pianists, many unknown to me, live videos sans audience.I'm going to sample at least Op.110 , Op.31,#3, Op.79 today, maybe others later.
https://www.francemusique.fr/concerts?p=2
Decided to also hear Opa.2,#3 ;10,# 1; 22;26; 31,#2;53;109 .Alternatively, Nos.3,5,11,12,17,21(“Waldstein”), 30, to add to the Nos.18,25,31 (Opa. 31,#3, 79,110)above heard earlier. With the exception of Op.26, the 10 I heard are my favs of the sonatas. Nos.5 ,11, 25 deserve to be programmed more often than I seem to encounter them. While most of these interpretations need more time to mature, was fun to hear these mostly quite young pianists have a go at the works.Example, “Waldstein”, Jean-Paul Gasparian: https://www.francemusique.fr/concert/in ... -waldstein

slofstra
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by slofstra » Sat Aug 29, 2020 12:26 pm

There's a pattern to these Beethoven threads. Usually there's a new groundbreaking set that everyone ravishes over. A few years ago that was Richard Goode, more recently Paul Lewis. Then everyone talks about Annie Fischer and the mono Kempff set.
A couple of years later there's another breakthrough. Levit in the present circumstance. And Fischer and Kempff are mentioned, but the breakthrough from the last iteration is generally forgotten. Fischer and mono Kempff, of course, are mentioned.
I'm being a bit sardonic and don't mean to be. In fact, here's my nomination for latest and greatest: Andras Schiff. I love this set, from the clean EMI sound to the outstanding interpretaion. There might have been a lame duck or two among the minor sonatas, but overall this has been a delight and in the player quite often recently.
It's funny how tastes change. I'm a little tired of the Kempff mono set, which I have only in digital on my computer. And I didn't like the Schnabel when I first acquired it - for the princely some of $18 for the entire set, I recall. One day I played it, and it hit me. Quite a delight, but very different from the German steel approach.
Yves Nat is name dropped in the OP article, but nothing said about it. It's idiosyncratic, I think, but a very enjoyable listen.
My 'goto' is still Anton Kuerti. Just a bit more expression than Kempff, and I used to play it over and over years ago.

I have thought of adding one of the Brendel sets to the arsenal. I think that Brendel is an upgrade to Kempff, very similar, but a bit better. Why do I say that? The incredible floating adagio of the Hammerklavier which is pure nirvana. No one does a long slow phrase better than Brendel which is why his Schubert is the best. Well, there is Richter. But no one else is close. Okay, Fischer's D940 is landmark. And I just this week received Zimerman's which I hear is incredible. I digress.

So, at the top level of performance the recording quality is a key differentiating factor for me. I've heard the anologue Brendel Philips set does not sound as good as the later 1990s digital set. Does anyone have both?

Rach3
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Rach3 » Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:35 pm

slofstra wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 12:26 pm
In fact, here's my nomination for latest and greatest: Andras Schiff. I love this set, from the clean EMI sound to the outstanding interpretaion.
You may be interested in Schiff's 2004-06 London lectures about , and live performances of , the 32:

https://wigmore-hall.org.uk/podcasts/an ... e-recitals

I heard the series at the time.Schiff is an engaging lecturer in addition to an extraordinary pianist and person.

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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Holden Fourth » Sat Aug 29, 2020 6:20 pm

I've always had the idea of rating the top performances I own of all 32 of the PS that I own. As well as about 10 full sets, I also have many stand alone recordings. To do this I would have to go back and listen to them all again. There are a number of them that I would probably dismiss after a few minutes so It shouldn't take all that long. There would also be sonatas where I could not decide between a couple of recordings.

I suspect that, given my personal approach to how I think Beethoven should be played, that some performers would tend to dominate and that there would also be some choices from pianists who aren't that well known. I've got over 50 pianists in the sonatas from what I can see. Of all of these I can list my favourites of the well known ones. It's the lesser known, especially the early sonatas that I'll have to take a close listen to. I might start with Op2/1 sometime today. Of the well known sonatas these are my favourites.

Op 13 Richter and Moravec
Op 27/2 Solomon (1948)
Op 28 - Sokolov I don't own this as it's a live DVD recording from a concert in Paris.
Op 31/2 - I'll need to listen
Op31/3 Richter and Rubinstein
Op 53 Rudolf Serkin from 1952. Tomsic is my stereo choice
Op 57 Gilels (Moscow 1961)
Op 81a - another listen required
Op 101 Gilels live in Aix-en-Provence
Op 106 - Sokolov Munich 1975
Op 109 Hess
Op 110 Richter Live in Leipzig
Op 111 Arrau - another DVD from EMI this time.

Of course there are other worthy performances of all the above in my collection. Two omissions that might have you scratching your head are Annie Fischer and Wilhelm Kempff whose complete traversals I do own. I've also got Schnabel but they didn't make it onto the list despite the fact that I still listen to them.

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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by slofstra » Sun Aug 30, 2020 3:34 pm

Holden Fourth wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 6:20 pm
I've always had the idea of rating the top performances I own of all 32 of the PS that I own. As well as about 10 full sets, I also have many stand alone recordings. To do this I would have to go back and listen to them all again. There are a number of them that I would probably dismiss after a few minutes so It shouldn't take all that long. There would also be sonatas where I could not decide between a couple of recordings.

I suspect that, given my personal approach to how I think Beethoven should be played, that some performers would tend to dominate and that there would also be some choices from pianists who aren't that well known. I've got over 50 pianists in the sonatas from what I can see. Of all of these I can list my favourites of the well known ones. It's the lesser known, especially the early sonatas that I'll have to take a close listen to. I might start with Op2/1 sometime today. Of the well known sonatas these are my favourites.

Op 13 Richter and Moravec
Op 27/2 Solomon (1948)
Op 28 - Sokolov I don't own this as it's a live DVD recording from a concert in Paris.
Op 31/2 - I'll need to listen
Op31/3 Richter and Rubinstein
Op 53 Rudolf Serkin from 1952. Tomsic is my stereo choice
Op 57 Gilels (Moscow 1961)
Op 81a - another listen required
Op 101 Gilels live in Aix-en-Provence
Op 106 - Sokolov Munich 1975
Op 109 Hess
Op 110 Richter Live in Leipzig
Op 111 Arrau - another DVD from EMI this time.

Of course there are other worthy performances of all the above in my collection. Two omissions that might have you scratching your head are Annie Fischer and Wilhelm Kempff whose complete traversals I do own. I've also got Schnabel but they didn't make it onto the list despite the fact that I still listen to them.
This is a fascinating list. As you mention, there's no Fischer or Kempff and no Brendel either. You could do a 'battle of the bands' say. See who can knock Gilels off his throne in the Appassionata from two or three contenders. Do post the results.
I see Rubinstein on the Sonata No. 18. I just listened to a 1960s recording of Rubinstein performing the Carnaval/ Fantasie Stucke. In his 1960s recordings he's at his peak in energy and strength.
Rubinstein recorded the Sonata No. 18 twice, in May 1945 and April 1976. I'd like to give this one a spin, but which is the one that you have? Rubinstein recorded at most a dozen of the Beethoven sonatas over his extended, stellar career.

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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Holden Fourth » Sun Aug 30, 2020 5:03 pm

I have both, being fortunate enough to own the 142CD box. Of the two I'd go for the 1946 version though both are similar. The '46 is faster in the first movement and the '76 has a feeling of happy introspection about it. Of the two I prefer the '46. Rubinstein and Richter both managed to get a rhythmic bounce into the first movement that others don't which adds humour.
Last edited by Holden Fourth on Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

barney
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by barney » Sun Aug 30, 2020 6:24 pm

Holden Fourth wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 6:20 pm
I've always had the idea of rating the top performances I own of all 32 of the PS that I own. As well as about 10 full sets, I also have many stand alone recordings. To do this I would have to go back and listen to them all again. There are a number of them that I would probably dismiss after a few minutes so It shouldn't take all that long. There would also be sonatas where I could not decide between a couple of recordings.

I suspect that, given my personal approach to how I think Beethoven should be played, that some performers would tend to dominate and that there would also be some choices from pianists who aren't that well known. I've got over 50 pianists in the sonatas from what I can see. Of all of these I can list my favourites of the well known ones. It's the lesser known, especially the early sonatas that I'll have to take a close listen to. I might start with Op2/1 sometime today. Of the well known sonatas these are my favourites.

Op 13 Richter and Moravec
Op 27/2 Solomon (1948)
Op 28 - Sokolov I don't own this as it's a live DVD recording from a concert in Paris.
Op 31/2 - I'll need to listen
Op31/3 Richter and Rubinstein
Op 53 Rudolf Serkin from 1952. Tomsic is my stereo choice
Op 57 Gilels (Moscow 1961)
Op 81a - another listen required
Op 101 Gilels live in Aix-en-Provence
Op 106 - Sokolov Munich 1975
Op 109 Hess
Op 110 Richter Live in Leipzig
Op 111 Arrau - another DVD from EMI this time.

Of course there are other worthy performances of all the above in my collection. Two omissions that might have you scratching your head are Annie Fischer and Wilhelm Kempff whose complete traversals I do own. I've also got Schnabel but they didn't make it onto the list despite the fact that I still listen to them.
I have most of these, and will try to listen to some or most over the next few weeks. Always interesting to compare tastes. thanks.

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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Rach3 » Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:58 pm

Ricordanza wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 6:24 am
I haven't listened to all of Igor Levit's Beethoven sonata recordings, but his rendition of the last five sonatas compares favorably with any others I've heard. This writer's hasty dismissal of Levit is undeserved.
I completely agree. FYI:

Levit live from Berlin’s Philharmonie on these dates. I missed first two, heard third last week and fourth today ( 17,11,3,8). The rest coming up :

Thursday 9/10 at 1:00 https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/53502 ( 2,7,6,18 )

Tuesday 9/15 at 1:00pm https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/53503 ( 15,16,13,14 )

Saturday 9/19 at 8:00 a.m. https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/53504 ( 27,28,29)

Sunday 9/20 at 1:00pm https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/53505 ( 30,31,32)

Will require a quick registration at site, but otherwise free of charge. Pretty sure will NOT be archived for later listening.All times above are US CDT ( Berlin -7) so 1 hour earlier for you,Ricordanza.
Last edited by Rach3 on Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Rach3
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Rach3 » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:58 pm

Rach3 wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:58 pm
All times above are US CDT ( Berlin -7) so 1 hour earlier for you,Ricordanza.
Sorry, LATER for you, ie 2:00 pm EDT.

Rach3
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Rach3 » Sat Sep 19, 2020 8:00 am

Reminder:

Rach3 wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:58 pm

Levit live from Berlin’s Philharmonie on these dates.

Saturday 9/19 at 8:00 a.m. https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/53504 ( 27,28,29)

Sunday 9/20 at 1:00pm https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/53505 ( 30,31,32)

Will require a quick registration at site, but otherwise free of charge. Pretty sure will NOT be archived for later listening.All times above are US CDT ( Berlin -7) so 1 hour earlier for you,Ricordanza.

Rach3
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Rach3 » Sat Sep 19, 2020 9:38 am

Rach3 wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 8:00 am
Reminder:
And what does one play as an encore after "Hammerklavier" ? Bill Evans' ( or a Bill Evans inspired ) arrangement of "Danny Boy ".

barney
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by barney » Sat Sep 19, 2020 6:35 pm

Alas, in Australia it is in the wee hours of the morning.

slofstra
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by slofstra » Sun Sep 20, 2020 9:32 am

Rach3 wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:58 pm
Ricordanza wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 6:24 am
I haven't listened to all of Igor Levit's Beethoven sonata recordings, but his rendition of the last five sonatas compares favorably with any others I've heard. This writer's hasty dismissal of Levit is undeserved.
I completely agree. FYI:

Levit live from Berlin’s Philharmonie on these dates. I missed first two, heard third last week and fourth today ( 17,11,3,8). The rest coming up :

Thursday 9/10 at 1:00 https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/53502 ( 2,7,6,18 )

Tuesday 9/15 at 1:00pm https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/53503 ( 15,16,13,14 )

Saturday 9/19 at 8:00 a.m. https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/53504 ( 27,28,29)

Sunday 9/20 at 1:00pm https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/53505 ( 30,31,32)

Will require a quick registration at site, but otherwise free of charge. Pretty sure will NOT be archived for later listening.All times above are US CDT ( Berlin -7) so 1 hour earlier for you,Ricordanza.
Sadly, these concerts are not appearing in the archive, as you indicate. The whole point of streaming is to do it in my unscheduled time. Quite a lot of musical activity has moved to the Internet and much of it is live streamed. Too much of my life is scheduled and I don't want to run my leisure time by the clock, if I can at all help it. Add to that a couple of severe disappointments with indie artists who either can't or won't learn how to run the technology properly, my policy now is to ignore all such events.

Rach3
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Rach3 » Sun Sep 20, 2020 6:09 pm

Rach3 wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 8:00 am
Reminder:
Extraordinary all, especially Op.111.111 not my fav of the last 3, 110 is, but Levits 111 was inspired, “better” than his cd, perhaps the “best” 111 I’ve heard.

maestrob
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by maestrob » Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:59 am

Rach3 wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 6:09 pm
Rach3 wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 8:00 am
Reminder:
Extraordinary all, especially Op.111.111 not my fav of the last 3, 110 is, but Levits 111 was inspired, “better” than his cd, perhaps the “best” 111 I’ve heard.
Sorry I had to miss the events, but I still have trouble signing in to that website. For the "best" Op. 111, I recommend Richter, live, in the Russian Legends Box, if you have it. L believe it's on disc 1, in excellent sound. Richter was absolutely inspired that day! :) !

Rach3
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Rach3 » Mon Sep 21, 2020 2:30 pm

maestrob wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:59 am
Sorry I had to miss the events, but I still have trouble signing in to that website. For the "best" Op. 111, I recommend Richter, live, in the Russian Legends Box, if you have it.
Thanks ! I dont have that Legends box, but do have his "Richter in Leipzig" live 1963 of Opa.109-111, and one of live of the 3 in Munich , I believe 1994.

Rach3
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Re: Beethoven's 32

Post by Rach3 » Mon Sep 21, 2020 5:17 pm

[quote=Rach3 post_id=504907 time=1600716659 user_id=240356
Thanks ! I dont have that Legends box, but do have his "Richter in Leipzig" live 1963 of Opa.109-111, and one of live of the 3 in Munich , I believe 1994.
[/quote]

My error (youth is wasted on the young !), not Munich , but rather the other one is Budapest,1965 for 110, Moscow,1972 for 109, and Prague,1975 for 111. The 1963 Leipzig is correct.

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