View Poll Results: Who is your favourite interpreter of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas?

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  • Arrau

    4 7.27%
  • Kempff

    7 12.73%
  • Gilels

    12 21.82%
  • Goode

    3 5.45%
  • Lewis

    2 3.64%
  • Brendel

    2 3.64%
  • Fischer

    1 1.82%
  • Barenboim

    1 1.82%
  • Backhaus

    1 1.82%
  • Schnabel

    1 1.82%
  • Kovacevich

    1 1.82%
  • Gulda

    4 7.27%
  • Serkin

    2 3.64%
  • Pollini

    4 7.27%
  • Other

    10 18.18%
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Thread: Who is your favourite interpreter of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas?

  1. #1
    Senior Member RogerWaters's Avatar
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    Default Who is your favourite interpreter of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas?

    I have endeavoured to include the top contenders, but alas there are always limited options.

    Criteria: Performance across the sonatas (or close to it, in the case of pianists who did not complete the full cycle), as opposed to magnificence in an isolated subset.
    Last edited by RogerWaters; Jul-26-2021 at 03:44.

  2. #2
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Seems there is at least one other thread asking the exact same question. Did you mean to create a poll?

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    Maurizio Pollini. He is one of my favourite pianists anyway.

  4. #4
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    I voted Gilels and it's interesting to see him taking an early lead.

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  6. #5
    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    I only really know Kempff, Gilels, Gould and Barenboim. I have other artists' recordings, but I'm not particularly familiar with them. I voted Kempff, but I have a real soft spot for Gould.

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    Disambiguation needed on Fischer (I suppose it's Annie but there is also Edwin) and Serkin (Peter made a few important Beethoven recordings). (I think we can ignore Karl-Ulrich Schnabel as well as Paul and Rico Gulda as they didn't make well known Beethoven recordings.)

  8. #7
    Senior Member Chilham's Avatar
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    Brautigam. .....

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  10. #8
    Senior Member Malx's Avatar
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    François-Frédéric Guy - but tomorrow who knows.
    Last edited by Malx; Jul-27-2021 at 14:02.

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  12. #9
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    I decided to stick to the choices listed (mine was Kovacevich), but this poll is over a couple of decades out of date. It's heavily skewed to pre-2000 perfomers, and is missing any number of significant recent cycles by people like Schiff, Korstick, Goodyear, Buchbinder, Biss, Levit, Scherbakov, Tirimo, Lortie, Bavouzet, Guy, Brautigam, and no doubt others I've omitted.

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  14. #10
    Senior Member Dimace's Avatar
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    I voted Barenboim. He knows Beethoven better than everyone. His 32th performance in Wien has written history. A living legend.
    „Es gibt drei Arten von Pianisten: jüdische Pianisten, homosexuelle Pianisten -- und schlechte Pianisten.“ V. Horowitz

  15. #11
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimace View Post
    I voted Barenboim. He knows Beethoven better than everyone. His 32th performance in Wien has written history. A living legend.
    Which of his complete sets do you prefer? I think that there are at least four....

  16. #12
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    I think Richard Goode is the most completely appealing more traditional (older) interpretation. I'm glad someone noted Francois-Frederic Guy, a great Beethoven pianist but a little -- dour? in some of the music.
    Andras Schiff just keeps moving up in every sense in every piece of literature that he takes on. Those lectures from London are great, but the sonata set is pretty fantastic, although I haven't made it to the last volume
    I think Gilels is the greatest pianist to dedicate himself to the entire set. A "here's how to play the piano" kind of thing without the emotional limitations of Pollini. The other great in this category is Arrau.
    Annie Fischer, yes, have to go back to it though.

    I don't want to say, "oh, I guess so" after hearing, and that happens with Kempff and Gould, I think they both require special pleading. That's even true of Backhaus to some extent. If I look at the score and i can see what they're doing but have to ask myself why, that's not successful. And I get little from Brendel or Barenboim in any literature. I have not nice things to say about Barenboim. thus.... thumper's mother.

    Rudolph Serkin, not a completist but a great Beethoven player. A pianist who looked for the truth in this music and struggled to carve it out, like Michelangelo with a piece of marble. Richter also not a completist but also not really, in my mind, someone to whom I look for Beethoven. Edwin Fischer, great Beethoven but again, not complete.

    The (maybe) important omission here is the Russian Maria Grinberg for a complete set, which I have not heard but it gets some great reviews. Maria Yudina I think not complete but anything she touches is worth hearing.

    Never heard Hewitt's Beethoven, anyone?
    Last edited by mparta; Jul-27-2021 at 15:49.

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  18. #13
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mparta View Post
    Never heard Hewitt's Beethoven, anyone?
    I have not, but based on her Bach, I haven't felt a need to sample her Beethoven.

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  20. #14
    Senior Member RogerWaters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    I decided to stick to the choices listed (mine was Kovacevich), but this poll is over a couple of decades out of date. It's heavily skewed to pre-2000 perfomers, and is missing any number of significant recent cycles by people like Schiff, Korstick, Goodyear, Buchbinder, Biss, Levit, Scherbakov, Tirimo, Lortie, Bavouzet, Guy, Brautigam, and no doubt others I've omitted.
    Greatness is never out of date!

    Of course, polls have a limit of 15 options, and I highly doubt the hive mind would place the technically brilliant but artistically 'standardised' approach of a Levit or a Bavouzet above the likes of Arrau, Kempff, Gilels etc.!
    Last edited by RogerWaters; Jul-28-2021 at 03:39.

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  22. #15
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    Of the ones mentioned I have complete (in the sense of one "standard" recording, not necessary alternative, live etc. recordings) Arrau, Gilels, Schnabel, Gulda, R. Serkin. I have heard a significant fraction of Pollini, Kovacevich, A. Fischer (still puzzled if the is meant because overall until recently, Edwin clearly was the more famous pianist!) and 1-3 disc samples of Backhaus, Kempff, Brendel, Goode. (I am afraid I never got the appeal of these last 4, Brendel is much better in Haydn, Mozart, Schubert.)
    I have not really heard any of Lewis' (the only younger guy who made it into the poll) and Barenboim's.

    I voted Gulda (Amadeo) as he is very consistent and together with Gilels the set I know best and longest. Gilels is of course missing 5 sonatas and while often great I think he is often glacial (or granitic or whatever). Gulda is lacking a bit in poetry in some pieces such as op.109 (which is my favorite sonata) but he is great in the two "classicist" late sonatas op.106 and 111 and so energetic and natural in the early sonatas that he remains a favorite after more than 20 years. Back in the late 1990s I first had most of the sonatas cobbled together, then I got the incomplete Gilels but still struggled with some of the early sonatas I found a bit boring. This was partly due to Gilels ultra-serious and often slow interpretations and Gulda was a bit of a revelation.
    Last edited by Kreisler jr; Jul-28-2021 at 14:26.

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