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  • Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Opp. 109, 110, 111
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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Opp. 109, 110, 111

21 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 25, 2006
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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Opp. 109, 110, 111 + Beethoven Sonatas, Opp. 101 & 106 "Hammerklavier" + Mitsuko Uchida Plays Schubert
Price for all three: $75.30

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas have long been regarded as the Mt. Everest of the form, heights that can be scaled only by pianists who possess the keyboard technique to realize the depth of the composer’s vision. By those standards, if Uchida isn’t the equal of such giants as Arrau, Kempff, and Schnabel, she certainly comes close enough to make this an outstanding release. Her pianissimos are feathery-light; her fortes are as powerful as one might wish, and her trills are analogues of Beethoven’s spiritual ideas. She renders Beethoven’s full dynamic palette with nuances that make every shading register. Uchida never makes an ugly sound. Her tone remains warm, colorful, and full-bodied. More important, her interpretation encompasses the inward, contemplative slow sections as well as the energetic ones, and she plays Beethoven’s contrapuntal passages with a clarity that makes every musical strand count. She’s helped by outstanding engineering, too. Not all of the transcendental Beethoven is captured here, but Uchida comes a lot closer than most pianists can aspire to. That alone makes this disc a must-have. -- Dan Davis


Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.30 in E, Op.109 - 1. Vivace, ma non troppo - Adagio espressivo - Tempo I 3:49$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.30 in E, Op.109 - 2. Prestissimo 2:10$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.30 in E, Op.109 - 3. Gesangvoll, mit innigster Empfindung (Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo)11:50Album Only
  4. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.31 in A flat, Op.110 - 1. Moderato cantabile molto espressivo 6:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.31 in A flat, Op.110 - 2. Allegro molto 2:10$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.31 in A flat, Op.110 - 3. Adagio ma non troppo 3:54$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.31 in A flat, Op.110 - 4. Fuga (Allegro ma non troppo) 7:59$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111 - 1. Maestoso - Allegro con brio ed appassionato 9:21$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111 - 2. Arietta (Adagio molto semplice e cantabile)18:34Album Only

Product Details

  • Performer: Mitsuko Uchida
  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (April 25, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Philips
  • ASIN: B000EAV6BS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,553 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Klingsor Tristan on April 26, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This is not only piano playing but also musical thinking of a very high order. In her fascinating notes that accompany this disc, Uchida is at pains to emphasise the connections and interrelationships between Beethoven's last three piano sonatas. Certainly the impact to be had from playing all three sonatas at a sitting is cumulative, growingly intense and finally overwhelming.

Make no mistake. These are great performances of these ground-breaking pieces. They achieve a perfect balance of intellectual rigour (in the voicing of fugal and contrapuntal passages, for example, or in the elucidation of Beethoven's fascination with and elaboration of variation form in his late period) with passion and emotion.

To take just the first movement of Op.109, at the start Uchida manages to capture the feeling that this is music caught, as it were, in media res, that it was going on before the sonata begins and that it just emerges from the silence. The opening theme is delivered with ideal simplicity, but Beethoven's stark elisions of sonata form mean we are carried alarmingly quickly into startling harmonic territory: Uchida disguises nothing in the arpeggios that drag us from key to key, before the sunlight emerges with clarity in the second subject. Within just a couple of minutes, we have been through a daring development section, a modified recapitulation and an extended coda that restores us to the simplicity of the opening. Uchida makes this frighteningly concentrated thought absolutely cogent and clear.

The variation movement that ends Op.109 lasts twice as long as the other two movements together and covers a vast emotional range. Uchida has the measure equally of the seemingly na?
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAME on May 14, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I wish Mitsuko Uchida hadn't waited so long to start recording Beethoven's piano sonatas, having already demonstrated her keen interest in and superlative playing of Mozart's and Schubert's major works for the piano. This is quite simply her best recording of Beethoven's piano scores I have yet heard, coupled with some elegant, often profound, musicological notes on these scores which she has written in the liner notes to this CD. I am especially impressed with her thoughtful, yet expressive, performances of both the Opus 109 and 111 piano sonatas; these rank alongside recordings I have heard from both Alfred Brendel and Maurizio Pollini as among the finest I've come across. The recordings also successfully capture the warm ambience of the Snape Maltings, England concert hall, enhancing the vibrant qualities of her performances.

In the liner notes Uchida observes how Beethoven employed motifs from Opus 109 as though they were germinating seeds of passages which he would elaborate further in the Opus 110 and 111 sonatas. She also does this in her playing of these works, offering quite nuanced, at times, understated performances, most notably in the second movement of Opus 111, which she notes in the liner notes as sounding almost like jazz or boogie-woogie. Hopefully this splendid CD is the first of a long-awaited Beethoven piano sonata cycle; without question, it is an excellent beginning for both Philips and Mitsuko Uchida.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By C. Thomas on January 6, 2007
Format: Audio CD
It has been clear to me for some time now that I listen to other aspects of musical renditions than most classical fans. Sure, the obvious aspects are important (hitting all the notes as it were) but this is merely the baseline. The extreme difficulty I experienced in finding an acceptable rendition of Bach's 48, for example, contrasted with the glowing reviews of many renditions which I own and have rejected as being unacceptably inaccurate.

Similarly, I had great difficulty finding a rendition of Beethoven's sonatas which made musical and rhythmical sense. Reading through the other reviews of this recording, several reviewers mentioned recordings I have - and cannot listen to. Although I only have two complete recordings of the sonatas, I have several other recordings of sonatas by a number of highly respected artists. I will not mention names here, as I feel that the mere fact that an artists has - in my opinion - failed to render a given piece acceptably, does not necessarily diminish the stature of the artist.

Rather, I would dwell on the rendition by Uchida. I have found with many recordings by Uchida (I have a fair collection) that her interpretation often seems to capture what I wanted to hear in the composition. This is certainly true of her recordings of Mozart and Schubert, amongst others. Here, as well, listening to the recording by Uchida (and, it should be mentioned, the recording is exceedingly fine in the technical domain as well) she not only captures the spirit of the compositions, but manages to find a timing - a rhythm - which, for me, is the first which resolves the many problems exhibited by these pieces. The timing of the Beethoven pieces are (in my probably irrelevant opinion) really critical.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By T. R. Wilson on March 13, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I admire Mitsuko Uchida's scholarship, and her clearly planned trajectory in choice of repertory. My impression, which is solely based on my observation of her career, is that she wisely chose to begin with Mozart, as that simply was what she knew she could play with all her heart, bringing to the music intelligence, the perfect techinique (and as a pianist, believe me, that technique is maybe not even "teachable" but a karmic gift...)

There is good reason why we have had to wait awhile for Uchida to give us these recordings of Beethoven 109,110, 111. Articlate is the one word I find that best sums her playing of these works. Others reviews have expressed the beauty of the engineering of these recordings. I'm sure Uchida-san stayed through the process that gives these recordings much of their beauty. All her hard work to express all she felt it, the meaning of these Sonatas she would not allowed to be lost in the long work of the acoustics, the engineering; praise her for staying on the job to give us that.

I listen to her as she is: a singular artist, with a very hard-won understanding of this music, that she would not attempt to record until she felt she could give all the music was due. Her interpretations are undeniably beautiful, articulating every detail, but never lost in the details at the expense of the depth of the message of the whole, true to the score, to her in-depth musicological research. But most of all, personal, daring to play late Beethoven is just that, DARING. But she did not do these works until she was fully prepared.

Articulate, I say, in the many senses: the technique, the touch, the tone, the attention to this absolute music never falls out of her hands, and into the personal, above the written score.
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