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Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas Box set

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Audio CD, Box set, August 28, 2012
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Product Details

  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (August 28, 2012)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 8
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,832 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

I highly commend this set to your attention.
Steven P.
No, there is no "right" way to play Beethoven, but there are such things as responsibility, respect and taste!
Michael Lee Davis
Once you've heard Brendel or Kempff, it is really hard to trade up.
Kelvin Brown

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Kelvin Brown on May 30, 2012
Format: Audio CD
This is not your father's Beethoven. Tempos are pretty fast, according to Beethoven's original metronome markings. The playing on the faster movements is quite aggressive, but to say that HJ Lim lacks interpretive powers or is too young to really have a right to offer the complete Beethoven sonata cycle is really unfair. What makes this set worth owning? In all fairness, full disclosure, I started off with the Bernard Roberts set on the Nimbus label. Solid, but not stellar. A couple of years ago I used his set as the chicken wire to start adding other recordings - Maurizio Pollini, Mitsuko Uchida, John O'Connor, and yes...Jeno Jando on the Naxos label. And then I picked up the two-fer set of Piano Sonata Favorites by Alfred Brendel. And finally his entire first cycle available in the Brilliant Classics Complete Beethoven set. You assume if they are in front of a microphone and you're listening on a major label, you will at least get technical accuracy, which HJ Lim delivers in truckloads. And you learn to appreciate the differences in interpretations. Saying one performance is "better" than another is silliness. Engineering? Well, that's a different story.

Performance: Five stars. I don't know if this is going to make sense to everyone, but have you ever listened to a sonata, or a symphony, and have no idea of where the melody is? The first thing I noticed in Lim's playing is she has a keen ability to push that melody across, and do that in a way that is almost as hooky as a pop tune. Not rushed, and in keeping with the composer's original intent. Almost as if she was trying to reach a target audience more attuned to those listening through an iPhone and a set of headphones. And at 54 years old, I guess that is fine by me. I do that more often than I'd like to admit.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By T. Fisher TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 27, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Perhaps more than any other debut recording in recent memory, it seems this set was designed with the specific purpose of launching a star. EMI found a new artist who had big things to say about a big body of work right off the bat, and this set has accordingly become a major topic of conversation on the classical scene. Consider some of the biggest attention-grabbing points:
- A giveaway download price (on the other big music download site), maximizing traffic and exposure and shooting the album to the top of the classical charts
- The audacity of launching a new artist with a complete Beethoven sonata cycle
- A controversial decision by the artist to omit the Opus 49 sonatinas
- Fast tempos that have created a stir regarding her interpretative choices
- Extensive liner notes written not by some musicologist, but by the artist herself, in which she sets forth her vision and justifies her choices

All these factors have generated tremendous buzz about HJ Lim as well as expectation about her next moves. This is a daring collection that owes a lot not only to HJ Lim, but also probably to some marketing genius at EMI who saw an opportunity for a very bold move to build a new artist quickly, and took it. Bravo to both the artist and whoever had the vision to let such an unorthodox project to go ahead at all.

But in the end, daring or not, this project would have fallen on its face if the artistry and musicianship weren't there. On that level, HJ Lim has presented not only excellent performances, but a bold and unified vision.

In her substantial liner notes -- which are a real highlight of the set, as far as I'm concerned -- she sets that vision out, including the more controversial points, like the tempos and the decision to omit Opus 49.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Paul Dyer on June 1, 2012
Format: Audio CD
I was excited when iTunes recently offered the entire set for the absurd sum of $9.99. I was disappointed it wasn't complete, but, at that price, why cavil? It is NOT pardonable that Ms Lim redefines what she means by a "Complete" set versus the accepted canon of 32 sonatas. It is deceptive. Emil Gilels did not live long enough to record some crucial sonatas and his boxed set--a fine one, and superior to this in many ways--is simply titled "Piano Sonatas."

It has been said many times and it is true that no pianist has created the ideal complete set--just as there is no ideal "Rosenkavalier"; Brendel's comes close; and, in its own way, so does Schnabel's. Schnabel's "Pathétique" remains unsurpassed, in my opinion. But this set is a good introduction, though I would quickly supplement it with others.

Technically, Ms Lim is dazzling, but her slow movements aren't nearly as searching as they need to be, and while this is easily imputable to her youth, that is not a fair assessment, I believe. Ms Lim has chosen to play these works at these speeds. But that means I don't like some of her interpretations. Her Op 111, one of the greatest artworks ever created, is not powerful enough in the first movement and she reduces the sublimity of the second to mere pyrotechnics. I would even choose Pogorelich's iconic, but wildly idiosyncratic version--at least in the first movement--over this one. Her Op 31.3, usually one of Beethoven's jolliest and most quicksilver works, lacks the punch of Lill's, which I consider to be the finest recording of this little-known sonata. And Pollini still blows her away in the third movement of the "Les Adieux.
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