Classical Music Forum banner

A/B Comparisons of Beethoven's "Waldstein"

8756 Views 34 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  DiesIraeCX
Pick any two or more versions of Beethoven's Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 (Waldstein) and compare them, tell us what you think. Also, feel free to discuss any aspects of this work.

My choices are Robert Taub, Friedrich Gulda, and Igor Lebedov.

Igor Lebedov

By doing an A/B comparison, it's easier to see the differences in approaches.

Taub's version is technically brilliant, no flaws, and somewhat passionate, especially compared to Igor Lebedov's slower, more laid back approach. Lebedov is a teacher, though, so he is not in the "virtuoso business."

Also, these two illustrate Lebedov's "orthodox" approach which sees the score/composer as "gospel," and does not wish to inject the artist's vision into center stage: the focus is "the work", not the performance.

On the other hand, Taub's passionate reading brings it to life.

Gulda is a "showoff" as well, but unfortunately his tempo here is much too fast, and he uses too much pedal in the fast scale runs, smearing them, perhaps even hiding some technical inconsistencies, which are really more like "impossibilities" at this fast tempo.

All in all, I prefer Taub, although the Lebedov recording is technically superior in sonics. Also, it would be hard to tire of his restraint; I will return to this version.


This sonata is ground-breaking, both technically and harmonically.

Beethoven was using a new English piano at this time, which allowed the fast, technically challenging passage which opens the sonata.

Beethoven's piano

Harmonically, this is the time when Beethoven started his use of root movement by thirds. The contrasting key areas, from C, are Ab and E, both unusual and distant from the normal G or F which would be commonly used, for their close proximity to C major.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 5
1 - 2 of 35 Posts
I have long (years) thought that we should do comparisons such as this regularly.

mr, please post the links to the videos for the versions in question. It would make them easier to locate and then we know we're all listening to the same recording.
I actually have 4 recordings of the Waldstein: Ashkenazy, Brendel, Kempff and Pollini (live).

I think this will take me a while ;) I will likely begin listening to each of these over the course of this week or next.
1 - 2 of 35 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.