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Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas [Box set]

Ludwig van Beethoven , Stephen Kovacevich Audio CD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Performer: Stephen Kovacevich
  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (January 13, 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 9
  • 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: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B0000DB55A
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,081 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Editorial Reviews

Stephen Kovacevich plays all 32 of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas. the recordings were done over a period of twelve years. The 9 CDs are in a cardboard box with a booklet describing the sonatas by movement on each CD and an essay by Joseph Kerman entitled "Beethoven and the Piano Sonata". The essay is in English, German and French.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's All Here, and Then Some: A Romantic Feast March 19, 2007
By JMB1014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
After growing familiar with Brendel's early set and many versions by Richter, Backhaus, Dochnanyi, Horowitz, Serkin, Ashkenazy, Kempff, Schnabel, Pollini, Rosen, Uchida and Gould, I decided I wanted a new set of all 32 sonatas. I listened and read reviews for over a year, gathering impressions of Barenboim, Arrau, Schnabel, Jando, Kovacevich, Goode, and more impressions of those I already knew - Ashkenazy, Kempff, Brendel and Backhaus. Beethoven is my favorite composer. Though I am delighted by "cornerstone" interpretations, I value an undistracting technique and good recorded sound.

Ultimately, I decided it was between Goode and Kovacevich. I listened to the excerpts on this website and chose. When the package arrived, I felt I had erred: I should have gotten Richard Goode's set. Nevertheless, I opened it and the die was cast. Kovacevich (nee Bishop) has been a constant source of wonder. These are stunning, insightful recordings that no excerpting on a computer can do justice. The criticism that all the sonatas are played the same way in this set is simply unjustified. I felt some of that when I listened to the little snatches available online, but when I took the time to play these at home on a good stereo, it was a completely different story. I was astonished and delighted. Every time I play one of these pieces, I feel I am hearing something totally new, but intelligently conceived and emotionally authentic and fulfilling. And he plays well! The first night, I stayed up late listening to four of these CDs in a row, all the way through. I still do that, but less now as I need the sleep. There is no musical wallpaper. And do not be fooled: Kovacevich has a sweet, exquisitely warm and tender side. This is not the 2-dimensional booming some have suggested.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great, Fiery, Beethoven Sonatas Set February 15, 2005
By Into
Format:Audio CD
Along with Brahms's late piano works, Debussy, some Liszt, and The Chopin Nocturnes, The Beethoven Piano sonatas are among my very favorite solo piano listening. I already have the Schnabel set, all of the sonatas that Gilels recorded, and The Goodes. I love all of those for different reasons. Although I don't own the Kempes, I listened to that set repeatedly when I worked at a record store several years ago, and I find his tempos to be a little "samey." Kovacevich is perhaps my favorite pianist, largely on the strength of his recordings of late Brahms, the Brahms First Piano Concerto, and the Beethoven Concertos. After I bought the Goode set several years ago, which I still very much enjoy, I decided that I couldn't justify springing for another full set...but after reading some reviews here, of the full set, and the individual issues, I managed to track down a relatively inexpensive copy of this set, so I decided to make this my latest "last set" of the Beethoven Piano Sonatas...and this one may very will be it.

In the faster music, Kovacevich is fiery, passionate, and unabashedly romantic, but he never fails to find the poetry in the slower, more introspective, music. One of my personal favorites of the Beethoven Sonatas--not just the more famous, or "named" ones--is the Second, and Kovacevich's performance has replaced Gilels' as my favorite. I'm not going to give a detailed breakdown of several of the Sonatas. I just wanted to say how much I enjoy the set as a whole, and was completely dazzled by several movements, especially the famous first movement of the Waldstein, always a favorite pianistic showcase, and Kovacevich's account of that sonata has also become my new favorite.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Penguin Rosette Award Winner February 10, 2006
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Beethoven's 32 Sonatas requires a wide range of expression that challenge even the most well-rounded pianist: humor and wit, poignant lyricism, a Mozartian-delicacy-of-touch, a passionate intensity, daunting virtuosity and often sheer power and drama. Above all, many of the sonatas are "mini-dramas" that need a master story-teller to bring to life. And some of these "stories" explode with burning intensity (the in "Appassionata," "Waldstein" and "Hammerklavier" sonatas). Everything I knew about Beethoven pointed to a pianist capable of endearing lyricism but especially a pianist who could leave many inadequete claviers in smoldering ruins when the score blackened. His students like Czerny had marvellous stories of such incidents.

So, with this image in mind, many otherwise superb and even legendary readings did not quite fulfill and satisfy. Often, the sound and intensity was not "huge" enough to me, but such is personal preference amoung so many fine choices. But, it was not until I heard these readings by the well-respected Beethovian, Stephen Kovacevich, that my emotions and imagination were completely engaged in certain sonatas.

Kovacovich's readings capture the Beethovenian spirit convincingly and are unashamedly large in scope and expression. His sound is BIG and symphonic, and his readings burst forth with energy and excitement. Perhaps much like Beethoven, he in not shy in hammering the keyboard mercillessly at times. His Beethoven is a style that is often restless, not easily settling in and highlighting the contrasts in the score.

What will attract many is the sheer intensity he brings to the more famous "high velocity" movements - like the last of the "Moonlight", the "Appassionata" or the "Waldstein" - true "white-hot" playing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent counterweight to Goode or Brendel
I had the great fortune of finding this set for $43 new from Momox via Amazon. That's right, a complete brand new set for forty three U.S. dollars! Read more
Published 7 months ago by OClaw
2.0 out of 5 stars Great performances, problematic recording
While Kovacevich may not posses the technical perfection of, say, Pollini, he more than makes up for with the intensity of performances documented in this boxed set. Read more
Published on January 29, 2012 by Amazon SF
Stephen (Bishop) Kovacevich's reputation as a Beethoven player was firmly established when he was quite young. Read more
Published on January 2, 2012 by rater25
3.0 out of 5 stars Stylish playing, cold sound
I haven't heard all of these recordings but the ones I have heard demonstrate that Kovacevich is one of the great Beethoven interpreters (although decidedly not so with Chopin!). Read more
Published on September 15, 2010 by J. TIMMERMAN
5.0 out of 5 stars Kovacevich plays Beethoven as I imagine Beethoven played Beethoven!
Few "things" in life have contributed as much to my sustained peace of mind as great music. Beethoven's piano sonatas are among the most treasured bodies of work in the entire... Read more
Published on November 21, 2009 by DavidRoss
5.0 out of 5 stars What is, possibly rightful, criticism of this edition relative to LIFE...
A lot has been written about these sonatas and their various interpretations. So, it is only with a certain level of apprehension that I write some more. Read more
Published on October 21, 2009 by fCh
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Performance
Got the recommendation from Penguin's guide to recorded classical music.
Amazing performance. Stephen Bishop Kovacevich delivers a fine blend of personal interpretation and... Read more
Published on January 20, 2009 by Itzhak Yaron
5.0 out of 5 stars Fiery Beethoven
I own four sets of the Beethoven sonatas and this is quickly becoming my favorite. The others, Goode, Kempff, and Scnabel are all excellent (I also own the uncompleted set by... Read more
Published on April 2, 2008 by MinnesotaMind
3.0 out of 5 stars When he is good, he is very, very good, and when he is bad...
This very uneven set does not deserve a Penguin rosette (but then, rosettes are often distributed with little, if any, sense of critical reponsibility-i.e. Read more
Published on August 16, 2006 by Dace Gisclard
3.0 out of 5 stars Masculine Beethoven
I currently own 6 sets of Beethoven sonatas. With each set I buy, I find another great way to enjoy these sonatas. Read more
Published on June 25, 2006 by George
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