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Beethoven: Favourite Piano Sonatas

4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 18, 1994
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Frequently Bought Together

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Editorial Reviews

Beethoven - Favourite Piano Sonatas - Cd
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Product Details

  • Performer: Alfred Brendel
  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (January 18, 1994)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Philips
  • ASIN: B00000417L
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,150 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
So, why this one, with so many out there? Well, if you are a pianist, you'd know that even if you've mastered one of these sonatas, it is difficult to have so many of them up to a 5-star standard. Horowitz' Appasionata is absolutely amazing! Rubinstein, late in his career, did such incredible things with the late sonatas. Barenboim's Moonlight will make you weep. Ashkenazy's Waldstein has the power it deserves. Murray Perahia makes the early sonatas sing!
But Brendel knows Beethoven. He knows him better than all of these others combined. There is never an unBeethovenian mannerism, never a pause for effect not-intended, never a dynamic misplaced, a peddle-point missed, a trill given more attention than it deserves. This is "thinking man's Beethoven". (It bears some resemblance to Wilhelm Kempf's, but Brendel's sense of rhythm is better.) You will listen to the first 30 bars of Moonlight and think, "Well, where's the bravura? where's the beef?", and then after 60 bars you'll think again -- "how could it possibly be played in any other way?" And, after you've gotten the other recordings out of your system, you'll think the same of virtually all the selections.
I won't throw out my Horowitz -- the students need to hear it. And I think I'd say the same of the earlier Barenboim recording. But for the rest -- after you own this one, you can dispense with them -- you've got all that you need.
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Format: Audio CD
Before Beethoven, the solo piano compositions (piano sonatas) of Haydn and Mozart were more designed for teaching, parlor music or an occasional showing of virtuosity - but within the classical restraint of the Vieneese culture. After mostly following this model for some time, Beethoven threw off these restaints and unleashed an unheard-of level of power and virtuosity - pioneering piano compositions of great drama, emotional expression and wide, dynamic tones. The public loved this new musical expression, especially such early works as the Pathetique and the so-called "Moonlight" sonata. Where piano sonatas before were well-suited for the dilattante and amatuer, these were now reserved only for the most advanced pianist. It was with such piano sonatas that Beethoven first worked out his revolutionary musical concepts that paved the way for his later and greater symphonies, concertos and string quartets - leaving behind the restraints of the "Classical period" and forging the way to the more-emotive "Romantic period."

Beethoven's seven most famous piano sonatas (the so-called "name sonatas") are on these two CD's. They are popular mostly because of the music is superb and changed the way the world looked at music at that time. These works (from Beethoven's "early" and "middle" periods until about 1801) are more popular and appealing to the average or newer listener than Beethoven's "lesser-accessible" and more turbulant later compositions. But, with so many recordings of these sonatas by so many of the great pianists to chose from, how does one decide? While for any individual sonata a certain performer may have recorded a spectacular reading, this 2-CD set by Alfred Brendel is - on a whole - excellent and highly rated.
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Format: Audio CD
Earlier recordings by Alfred Brendel hold a top spot in Gramophone's 2005 Classical CD Review, but while not at the top of the listing, this CD receives considerable praise at honorable mention. As always, individual sonatas have their respective, best interpreters (e.g., Rubinestein or Richter for Appassionata; Gilels for Waldstein); however, this is a rarely-found sampling by a recognized "great" pianist. In addition, collecting the pieces represented here would normally require the purchase of 2-3 individual CDs or a packaged cycle. Thus, this is a bargain value. Perhaps not the "first choice" for the musical purist or trained ear, nevertheless these recordings serve as a well-above-average collection of the most familiar Beethoven piano sonatas. Perfect for the classical listener wishing to (a) discover Beethoven piano music; (b) looking to fill in or diversify an existing collection or, (c) looking for a concise B+/A- collection of Brendal interpretations.
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By A Customer on April 27, 2000
Format: Audio CD
The music on this CD actually comes from Brendel's set of complete Beethoven piano sonatas. If you do not want to spend tons of money (the Brendel set is currently $127.77(4-26-00)), and you only want the most popular sonatas anyway, then these two CDs are ideal for you. Seven named piano sonatas are represented here, and each one of them is a winner. Also, the recorded sound of the piano is clear despite its age. Buy this double CD for a quick and painless introduction to Beethoven's celebrated piano sonatas.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A little tape hiss you can only really hear through the headphones aside, on the whole, this is the best performed set on Beethoven sonatas you're going to find. Period. I have two sets of the sonatas, and various recordings by different performers on competing labels. For this set of "name sonatas," Brendel hands in traditional, dependable, and steady interpretations of these pieces to be enjoyed over and over again. O'Connor, Gulda, and Bernard Roberts turn in performances that are more on the classical, Mozartean side of the scale - unadorned, without big acoustics. On the other hand, Pollini, Schiff, and Uchida give us shock and awe, romantic interpretations of Beethoven that that lean toward the dramatic (Uchida's "Hammerklavier" is intoxicating). This set by Brendel is in the perfect middle. Bulls eye. Nail on the head. The engineering in more close up than some of the others, but the level of echo and reverberation are darn near perfect. His performance of the Pastoral Sonata is hypnotic, and his Moonlight Sonata, in my opinion (after many listenings and side-by-side comparisons, is the best recorded version on the market. Schiff's faster version may be closer to what Beethoven intended according to his tempo markings, but I've gotten used to listening to a slower, more romantic interpretation of that piece. The result - spine tingling intimacy. What one review calls 'wishy washy" I would call varying emotional intensity.

As far these CDs being just "short of the digtal age," I have an audiophile system, and these CDs sound great. Well engineered and well recorded. Sound stage and seperation is magnificent. No drowning in 4 second delays and cathedral acoustics, thankfully, so what you hear is the piano and the performance.
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