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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Vladimir Ashkenazy ‎– Piano Sonatas Moonlight / Appassionata / Waldstein

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This month’s Cover 2 Cover starts a three-part arc on our #Beethoven2020 series focused on works for solo piano.

The chief contribution Beethoven made to the solo piano repertoire are his 32 piano sonatas. Composed between 1795 and 1822, they span the entirety of his career, and allow us to witness Beethoven’s evolution as a composer. Although originally not intended to be a meaningful whole, as a set they compose one of the most important collections of works in the history of music.

The first pianist to make a complete recording of the Beethoven sonatas was Artur Schnabel, who recorded them for HMV between 1932 and 1935. Glenn Gould, Vladimir Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter, and Rudolf Serkin recorded selected sonatas, but never recorded the complete series.
So many pianists, of different performance traditions have recorded the entire corpus, some of them are probably favorites of yours. In my record collection, I have two – the mono set by Wilhelm Kempff and the stereo/analog set by Vladimur Ashkenazy.

Every master pianist brings something slightly different to the fore in rendering Beethoven's work, and in Ashkenazy it is the striking amplitude changes and rhythmic power of the works that take center stage. This said, his work on such lyric movements as the first in the Moonlight Sonata, and the middle in the Appassionata are well done.

Ashkenazy’s complete cycle was recorded through the 1970’s. He later provided isolated “programs” recorded digitally in the 1980’s. Today’s share has the advantage of being available in both media – as digitally remastered and digitally recorded. The three sonatas are the Moonlight (no. 14), Waldstein (no. 21) and Appasionata (no. 23). The digitally remastered set was issued on bargain price CDs under numerous pressings.

Happy Listening

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Sonata No.14 In C Sharp Minor, Op.27 No.2 'Moonlight'
Sonata No.23 In F Minor, Op.57 'Appassionata'
Sonata No.21 In C Major, Op.53 'Waldstein'

Piano – Vladimir Ashkenazy
1970, 1973 and 1977 recordings
Decca ‎– 417 732-2

Internet Archive -
Complete Cycle on YouTube -