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Thread: Krystian Zimerman's unforgivable absence of Beethoven piano sonatas recordings

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    Default Krystian Zimerman's unforgivable absence of Beethoven piano sonatas recordings

    One of the greatest pianists of all time. Has recorded major solo works by Schubert, Chopin, Liszt, Debussy.
    + One of the top Beethoven concerto cycles.
    Has all the attributes to produce the best rendition of arguably the greatest monument in solo piano literature.
    Every other great pianist has recorded at least one Beethoven sonata, even those whose styles were not the most suitable for his music (e.g., Gould, Horowitz, Cortot).
    For a pianist of Zimerman's stature, this omission is unforgivable. Ok, Lipatti didn't do it either, but he was planning to tackle Beethoven before his untimely death. What is Zimerman's excuse??

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    I have a copy of him playing op 110 in Princeton in 2010 which I can let you have if you want, and op 13 in Vienna in 2010, PM me and let me know here that you’ve sent message. Clearly in 2010 he was experimenting with Beethoven. I believe that there is a recording of the Waldstein by him, if anyone has it please share!


    My suspicion is that he doesn’t like the music very much. My suspicion is that we’ve passed the days when Beethoven was thought to be so central to music that every pianist felt the need to record his interpretation.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jun-14-2019 at 10:42.

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    That is really strange. I'm not very familiar with this pianist and haven't heard much of his playing. From what I have heard, though, I was under the impression that he was a Beethoven specialist. Hasn't he recorded all of the concerti multiple times? Pretty damn good recordings too. He's recorded none of the sonatas? Outside of the two live recordings mentioned by Mandryka, of course, which are perhaps not well known...?

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    I think ideally performers should only record the music they are inspired to perform, and not everyone's tastes are the same so musicians shouldn't feel obligated to record music just because others have or it is "arguably the greatest monument..." etc.

    I'm no pro but that said I have no desire to ever attempt a Beethoven sonata. They are just so daunting and massive. I remember a pianist that used to post here named Bettina (she was a big Beethoven fan) but said she didn't even recommend playing through a whole sonata during most practice sessions. There is just something that strikes me as slightly ridiculous about that.
    Last edited by tdc; Jun-15-2019 at 02:45.

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    Here's a negative review of some Beethoven he played in London, I missed the concert, the point that Edward Seckerson makes about him in the second movement of op 111 sounds very plausible to me -- I mean I can imagine that problem from what I know about Zimerman's style.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-e...on-835768.html
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jun-15-2019 at 09:23.

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    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    I think ideally performers should only record the music they are inspired to perform, and not everyone's tastes are the same so musicians shouldn't feel obligated to record music just because others have or it is "arguably the greatest monument..." etc.
    I do agree. These days it is all about sets and completeness. I very much respect Richter's refusal to play pieces that didn't rock his boat even though that means we have multiple recordings of some works from him and no sets.

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    Deleted...............
    Last edited by DavidA; Jun-15-2019 at 11:18.

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    Here's his live performance of Sonata No. 8... and I must say that I was rather disappointed in his choice of such a fast tempo, his hurried and rushed-sounding interpretation, his abrupt and explosive dynamic changes, and what sounded to me as his rather disinterested, perhaps overly professional approach... to possibly get it over with. I heard most of it then lost interest and didn't get the feeling that he particularly enjoyed the composer or understood him, based on this performance, though he has recorded all the concertos... Overall in his career, he appears highly selective in what he records, and if this is an example of how he feels about the Beethoven sonatas, perhaps it's better that he never tried to record a complete cycle - or maybe he was just having an off day. Nevertheless, in the music that interests him, such as his performances of the Chopin Ballades, I think he's one of the greatest of pianists.

    Last edited by Larkenfield; Jun-15-2019 at 12:01.
    "That's all Folks!"

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    The op 110 from Princeton, I can't share it easily on the forum but if it's here if anyone wants it, is professional and accurate but in those terms it's very fine nonetheless, his recent Schubert was a bit like that. I don't much like op 13 so I can't bring myself to listen to it!

    In some ways he's like Edwin Fischer post war, or at least that's something worth exploring maybe.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jun-15-2019 at 13:56.

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    Murray Perahia has not recorded all the sonatas of Beethoven. I thought one of the issues has to do with so many sonatas requiring an understanding of all of them and being able to translate it to the recordings. Then the artist has to endure the comparisons of all the complete sonatas to their output.

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    I'm not asking for a complete cycle by Zimerman (which would be a nice addition). But just one official recording of a few sonatas is not asking too much. There are 32 to choose from, surely he must have some favorites?

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    Senior Member Bulldog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rubens View Post
    For a pianist of Zimerman's stature, this omission is unforgivable. Ok, Lipatti didn't do it either, but he was planning to tackle Beethoven before his untimely death. What is Zimerman's excuse??
    He doesn't need one. Zimerman may record whatever he wants - what you want him to record means nothing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bulldog View Post
    He doesn't need one. Zimerman may record whatever he wants - what you want him to record means nothing.
    This would be true if we were not talking about LvB piano sonatas. Do you not know the place they hold in the piano literature? It would be like a great conductor who has never recorded a Beethoven symphony. But maybe you don't know much about orchestral music either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    My suspicion is that we’ve passed the days when Beethoven was thought to be so central to music that every pianist felt the need to record his interpretation.
    Considering that new recordings of the Beethoven sonatas and that finished and ongoing cycles still are legio, I do not understand this your point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rubens View Post
    This would be true if we were not talking about LvB piano sonatas. Do you not know the place they hold in the piano literature?
    What you say above is irrelevant.

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