This survey is meant to list all complete sets of
Beethoven's Piano Sonatas and their availability in different
markets, not to review them.
For those of you wanting to let me know about series that
I have apparently missed, please wait for my last instalment.
1974 - 1975 - Analekta
One of the first complete sets of the Sonatas I had, and ever declining in my
estimation. Wherever Kuerti is very slow (which he is very often), the speed
does not seem to be justified by an equivalent increase in musicality, lyricism,
or other notable facet. And where Kuerti isn't very slow, he does not impress
with the polished technique that many of the competitors display. Interesting,
but hardly essential.
Not long after Brendel had finished these recordings, digital became the new
thing in the recording industry and so he would go about it for a third time
shortly thereafter, recording what is--at least on CD--his most prevalent cycle.
Naxos' pianist for all seasons seems to have recorded the
complete-anything. Some Haydn I have of his is very amiable
stuff, but the little I've heard of his Beethoven too bland
to want to make me explore it further.
individual discs. (Two 5-disc sets containing the cycle
have since been discontinued.)
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.27/1 and 106 which are taken from
the earlier cycle. A 1952 Deutsche Grammophon Diabelli Variation
recording is added as a bonus.
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