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Experience Classicsonline


Recordings of Beethoven Piano Cycles
prepared by Jens Laurson

 

Part 1
30s, 40s & 50s
Part 2
60s
Part 3
70s & 80s
Part 4
90s
Part 5
00s


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.


[image]

Anton Kuerti
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.

Availability:

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

EMI

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

[image]

Alfred Brendel II
1970 - 1977 - Philips (analog)

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.

Availability:

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

Philips

(Yes)

Yes

Yes

Yes

[image]

Malcolm Binns
19?? - 1977 (?) - L'Oiseau-Lyre

Played on different period instruments.

Never issued on CD.
Availability of last 5 Sonatas:

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

Explore Records


Yes


Yes


Yes


Yes

[image]

Annie Fischer
1976 - 1978* - Hungaroton

These performances were recorded phrase by phrase with retakes, cutting, pasting, and editing taking place as late as 1992 and even beyond Fischer's death. Has its (cult?) following.

Availability:
(Also available on individual discs)

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

EMI

Yes

(Yes)

(Yes)

Yes

[image]

John Lill
1975 - 1980 - ASV (Brilliant, Sanctuary)

Availability:

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

Sanctuary

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

[image]

Vladimir Ashkenazy
1971 - 1981 - Decca

My first Beethoven Piano Sonata cycle of which especially the early sonatas hold up very well while I've become rather indifferent to much of the rest.

Availability:

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

EMI

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

[image]

Rudolf Buchbinder
1979 - 1981 - Telefunken / Telarc

Live? Buchbinder is one of the world's most avid Beethoven sonata edition collectors with over 18 complete editions in his library.

Availability:

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

Dynamic

No

No

No

No

[image]

Daniel Barenboim II
1981 - 1984 - Deutsche Grammophon

Barenboim, Take Two. Now for Deutsche Grammophon.

Availability:

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

DG

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

[image]

Tatiana Nikolayeva
1984 - Melodiya (Olympia (UK), DS Berlin, Scribendum)

What little I've heard about (but not of) this cycle, it must be uncompetitive in every regard. Recorded during a series of Moscow recitals over a few months in very early 1984.

Availability:

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

Scribendum

(Yes)

(Yes)

No

Yes

[image]

Bernard Roberts
1981 - 1984 - Nimbus

Availability:

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

Nimbus

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

[image]

Jenő Jandó
1987 - 1989 - Naxos

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.

Availability:
On individual discs. (Two 5-disc sets containing the cycle have since been discontinued.)

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

Gramola

List


(Yes) mp3

(Yes)

Yes

[image]

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.

Availability:

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

Philips


Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes

[image]

Michaël Lévinas
1984 - 1991 - Ades

Most of this cycle was recorded between 1988 and 1991, played on a Steinway.

Availability:

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

Ades


No


No


No


(Yes)

[image]

Abdel Rahman El Bacha
1984 - 1993 - Forlane

Availability:

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

Forlane


No


Yes


Yes

Yes

[image]

John O'Conor
198? - 1993 - Telarc

Availability:

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

Telarc


Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes

[image]

Robert Benz
1988 - 1995 - Thorofon

Available only in individual volumes, and those spottily only.

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

Thorofon


No


(Yes)


(No)

Yes

[image]
Richard Goode
1989 - 1993 - Nonesuch

Availability:

Country / Label

USA

UK

France

Germany

Nonesuch


Yes


Yes


Yes

Yes

 

>>> Part 4: 1990s

This survey was originally published on the Ionarts blog

If you have additional information about recording dates, availability, cover art -- or corrections and additions -- your input is much appreciated.

 


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