T.D.

Beethoven piano sonatas - Pienaar?

47 posts in this topic

Thanks for the various feedback. Picked up Kovacevich a while back and enjoyed it; sound and approach satisfied my "modern" criteria. Just recently got Heidsieck's set, which I hadn't heard in several years (purchased one as a gift), and extremely happy with it. Will likely buy the Serkin box in the near future. Would like to hear Sherman, but that's too tough to find at present.

[Added] Got the Serkin set, which absent the above suggestion I wouldn't have considered due to incomplete sonatas. But the sonatas are outstanding, right up with the very best I've heard (my erudition is insufficient to make explicit rankings). Have yet to listen to Serkin's concerti. That's it for now - have spent much of the past several weeks digesting LvB sonata interpretations.

Edited by T.D.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Kovacevich was delivered today. First sonata I listened to (No.30) is a fine performance, but it sounded like shit. Like a bootlegger with a minidisc recorder in the middle of a concert hall only with the rest of the audience absent. I already regret spending €20 on this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, erwbol said:

The Kovacevich was delivered today. First sonata I listened to (No.30) is a fine performance, but it sounded like shit. Like a bootlegger with a minidisc recorder in the middle of a concert hall only with the rest of the audience absent. I already regret spending €20 on this.

Both Gulda and (incomplete) Gilels (DG) offer more than satisfactory sonics .... just sayin`....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, soulpope said:

Both Gulda and (incomplete) Gilels (DG) offer more than satisfactory sonics .... just sayin`....

It was incredible. There was no lower register coming through at all. Now listening to No.26, both on CD 7, and there at least is some lower register coming through. I think. I have to sit down with a glass of Darjeeling for the next couple of hours.

If I had spent more than €20 on this I probably would have been about to explode. :rmad:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

51jctxpNDGL.jpg

Taking into account both performance and sonics I believe Ronald Brautigam on his several fortepianos currently has the best complete cycle in or out of print. It is an expensive set, but worth the price and on Hybrid SACD. His Diabelli Variations are of similar quality.

 

 

81EyWhpjN1L._SL1500_.jpg

For a modern piano Peter Takács undoubtedly has the best recorded complete set. A sublimely recorded Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand on the Californian Cambria label, also on Hybrid SACD. Furthermore, the set is superbly annotated by Takács himself. Fine performances throughout, but lacking some of the eccentricities of the big name pianists. Another expensive set worth every cent.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/beethoven-complete-piano-sonatas-mw0002029741

 

Still available on Cambria's website: http://www.cambriamus.com/cds/hybrid_sacd.htm

Edited by erwbol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Deepak & @Peter Friedman  I would love to hear the Lucchesini cycle. I know it was recorded live, but is there audience noise like coughing audible (even a little)? If so I can stop pursuing a second hand copy of that set.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just listened to Peter Takács' recording of the Moonlight sonata. This whole box set is simply one of the most beautiful piano recordings I have ever heard. Every nuance of the Bösendorfer Imperial is captured perfectly. Don't discount Takács simply because he isn't a 'star'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Peter Takacs performed Beethoven here in the Spring. I was very fortunate to receive an invitation to attend a Sunday afternoon concert at a private home. There were no more than 30 people there. He played beautifully. He had with him copies of the Complete Beethoven Sonatas Box for sale at a very reasonable price. I was very tempted, but as I have 3 other complete Beethoven Sonata box sets I decided not to make the purchase.

My Beethoven box sets are by Kempff, Buchbinder and Lucchesini . I like all 3, but the Buchbinder is my favorite for both performance and audio quality.

I do not honestly recall whether there is any slight audience noise. If it does exist (?), it did not bother me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4-10-2019 at 10:36 PM, erwbol said:

Just listened to Peter Takács' recording of the Moonlight sonata. This whole box set is simply one of the most beautiful piano recordings I have ever heard. Every nuance of the Bösendorfer Imperial is captured perfectly. Don't discount Takács simply because he isn't a 'star'.

I've read several reviews and they were mixed. Everyone agrees the sound is excellent, but some found Takács emotionally lacking; they said that his playing, though technically very good, isn't "emotionally involving". Other reviews didn't mention this aspect, and raved about the set.

I haven't heard the set and I'm interested. Where did you get it? It seems to be OOP and private sellers are asking insane prices on Amazon.

Edited by J.A.W.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/4/2019 at 4:36 PM, erwbol said:

Just listened to Peter Takács' recording of the Moonlight sonata. This whole box set is simply one of the most beautiful piano recordings I have ever heard. Every nuance of the Bösendorfer Imperial is captured perfectly. Don't discount Takács simply because he isn't a 'star'.

I managed to find a very well-priced set of these SACDs discounted because the binding in the folios had come undone. Beautiful sound. I am only intimately familiar with two other complete cycles of these sonatas, but I think the playing is very good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/6/2019 at 6:10 PM, J.A.W. said:

I've read several reviews and they were mixed. Everyone agrees the sound is excellent, but some found Takács emotionally lacking; they said that his playing, though technically very good, isn't "emotionally involving". Other reviews didn't mention this aspect, and raved about the set.

I haven't heard the set and I'm interested. Where did you get it? It seems to be OOP and private sellers are asking insane prices on Amazon.

I bought the set at amazon.de a couple of years ago. I paid about €100. The set is still available on the label's website here. Perhaps they are planning to sell the remaining copies themselves to maximise profit?

I don't think Tákacs is emotionally lacking. And the recording brings out every nuance in his playing. I think what's the case is people have become accustomed to their favourite eccentricities and identify them with this material. A very eccentric performance can still hold the attention in poor sound quality. The Bösendorfer Imperial and recording quality make Tákacs shine. As a college professor he is also clearly knowledgable about Beethoven as is evident from the liner notes. There is also good interview footage of him online, including about a visit to Bonn to inspect original manuscripts: The Whole Note.

Perhaps instead of a favourite eccentricity I have a preferred piano sound. I prefer Bösendorfers over Steinways.

Edited by erwbol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been sampling this on Spotify since you mentioned it, and I have to say I haven't warmed to it, nice as the recording quality is even on Spotify.

 

I'll keep going.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 04/10/2019 at 6:03 PM, soulpope said:

The one to go for was released in 1968 on Amadeo and reissued as CD on Brilliant Classics in 2005 ....

The sonata performances are on the decca box linked above. I have the Brilliant issue and think it is wonderful.

Another good set is Annie Fischer on Hungaraton. Don't particularly like Kovacevich in this repertoire.

Kempff mono set is wonderful too.

Edited by Steve Gray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, Steve Gray said:

Another good set is Annie Fischer on Hungaraton.

Though her Bösendorfer is poorly recorded.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, David Ayers said:

I've been sampling this on Spotify since you mentioned it, and I have to say I haven't warmed to it, nice as the recording quality is even on Spotify.

 

I'll keep going.

Assuming you're referring to the Peter Takács set, I agree. I've listened to several pieces and, though the sound is good, his playing sounds kind of detached to me; so far it doesn't do much for me. Pity, I'm always interested in complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas sets (I only have thirty or so :)). What I've heard of the new Igor Levit set didn't really convince me either.

Edited by J.A.W.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/10/2019 at 2:52 AM, J.A.W. said:

I've heard of the new Igor Levit set didn't really convince me either.

Radically different recording from his debut 2CD of the last five sonatas from 2013. The recording quality of the earlier sonatas distracted me from forming an opinion about the performances. A major disappointment. The copy I pre-ordered at amazon.de arived damaged, so I had to return it unopened. A stroke of good luck. The files I downloaded with bitorrent out of curiosity (now deleted from my harddrive, of course) are all I will ever need to hear from this set. Awful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have only heard the Levit set on Spotify via my crappy PC speakers, so I can't really comment on its sound quality. However, after listening to many sonatas more than once I liked Levit's interpretations a lot better than before. The set is now on my wants list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, J.A.W. said:

Have only heard the Levit set on Spotify via my crappy PC speakers, so I can't really comment on its sound quality. However, after listening to many sonatas more than once I liked Levit's interpretations a lot better than before. The set is now on my wants list.

There are one or two reviews in the media that comment on the sound. From memory, it was recorded as if you are sitting in the middle of a concert hall. You hear a lot of room and little fine detail. All very distant. Perhaps a classical record store in Groningen has a copy of the set you could sample on good headphones? I imagine the sound will divide people as more customer reviews come in. For now I have decided to ignore the set. Perhaps in a years time I will change my mind, but I don't think so. Hopefully Levit's next release will revert to regular studio sound. I love all he's done previously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "concert hall realism" of the recordings seems to be deliberate. It's a choice more record labels make these days, like for instance Hyperion - many of their recordings also have that effect; the sound is a bit too spatial for my liking, but I try not to be distracted by it.

By the way, haven't visited a record store in ages (apart from a jazz/blues store owned by a friend of mine) and have no intention to go to one - if there are any left... Besides, I live on the edge of town and my physical limitations prevent me from going too far from home on my own. Thanks for the tip, anyway.

Edited by J.A.W.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.