From Library Journal
For anyone who plays the piano, Beethoven's 32 sonatas loom as the mighty peak of the repertoire. Taub, a concert pianist who has played them all, gives a performer's-eye view of the experience. Taub sets the tone on the first page by declaring that pianists enter into "an implied moral contract" with the composer to understand and respect his intentions. What follows is a close, careful reading of every aspect of performance from fingering to tempo. Like Rosen, Taub does not follow the standard division of the sonatas, opting instead to describe them as "Epitomizing Classical Styles" (Op. 2-49), "Experimentation" (Op. 26-31), "Post-Heiligenstadt, Crossing the Rubicon" (Op. 53-57), "Compression, Homogeneity" (Op. 78-81a), and "Summation, Transcendence" (Op. 90-111). These are thoughtfully construed categories, but Taub is more persuasive when arguing that each sonata is unique, and the most fascinating part of the book for any performer is the division of the sonatas into nine distinctive programs (this reviewer finds the Tempest/Hammerklavier combination especially intriguing). Throughout, Taub is intelligent, informed, exhaustive (74 musical examples grace the text), and genial if sometimes a bit dry. Definitely a performer's guide (Rosen's study will probably work better for larger audiences), this is highly recommended for any library serving pianists, amateur or professional, who want to play Beethoven better. Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Pianist Robert Taub has performed throughout the United States, Europe, the Far East, and Latin America. From Merkin Concert Hall in New York and Kingston University in London to other venues worldwide, he continues to present the Beethoven piano sonata cycle regularly. His recordings of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas have been critically acclaimed, and Taub is renowned for his interpretations of contemporary music as well.
The Beethoven piano sonatas have been part of Taubs life since the age of 8, when he ventured into Beethovens Opus 10 No. 1. Over the years he learned that the sonatas can be appreciated on many levels, and naturally he began to incorporate them into his concert repertoire. Taubs Beethoven studies eventually resulted in his first performing all the sonatas as a cycle in Wolfensohn Hall at Princeton. His book Playing the Beethoven Piano Sonatas evolved from that performance and subsequent ones.
Taub served as the first artist-in-residence since T. S. Eliot at Princetons Institute for Advanced Study, and was the first musician to hold the honor. Now he performs with leading orchestras, including the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, and Hong Kong Philharmonic.
He also enjoys running, scuba diving, and restoring sports cars and motorcycles. In fact, the April 2001 issue of Classic Bike featured a motorcycle that he rebuilt. Taub resides in Princeton, NJ.