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Beethoven: Favourite Piano Sonatas

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. No one performer can be all things to all listeners. I have assembled an “all star cast” cycle, and the recordings I chose for the sonatas in question were Brendel’s. Listen to the previews and decide for yourself. Plus, I picked this up for around three dollars, plus shipping. It is, like some of the other reviewers say, a real bargain. But that’s not why I bought this set. I bought it for the superb performances. Highly recommend. Check it out!




Beethoven: Favourite Piano Sonatas Review


I like the Brendel performances on this cd, but I’m very disappointed in the audio quality. Most pieces are ruined by a hiss that makes them almost unlistenable with headphones. I have the Beyerdynamic dt770 and AKG Q701, and on the dt770 especially the hiss is unbearable. And no, it’s not the headphones or my other equipment, since some of the pieces on the cd have no hiss at all. I’m surprised other reviewers have not complained about the audio quality. -Read Reviews-

This should be an essential part of any Beethoven collection. These sonatas are beautifully played by Alfred Brendel, who is considered by many to be the greatest living pianist. These are recordings from the 1970 ‘s, when Brendel was an extremely prolific recording artist for Phillips. Brendel does not interpret Beethoven, he illuminates Beethoven. Brendel’s mission has always been be true to the work and the composer, taking pains to realize Beethoven’s intent in dynamics and tempo. This approach rewards the listener with music with Brendel’s trademark fabulous tone. Individual notes are crystal clear.

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