Brendel: Beethoven - Complete Piano Sonatas (10 CD box set, APE)
Brendel: Beethoven - Complete Piano Sonatas (10 CD box set, APE)

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Alfred Brendel
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 10 CD box set
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Philips
Size: 1.94 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

CD 01
Piano Sonata No. 16 in G major, Op. 31/1
Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor (“Tempest”), Op. 31/2
Piano Sonata No. 18 in E flat major (“Hunt”), Op. 31/3

CD 02
Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major (“Waldstein”), Op. 53
Piano Sonata No. 22 in F major, Op. 54
Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101
Andante for piano in F major (“Andante favori”) WoO 57

CD 03
Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat major (“Funeral March”), Op. 26
Piano Sonata No. 13 in E flat major (“Quasi una fantasia”), Op. 27/1
Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor (“Moonlight”), Op. 27/2
Piano Sonata No. 19 in G minor, Op. 49/1

CD 04
Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 2/1
Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 2/2
Piano Sonata No. 3 in C major, Op. 2/3

CD 05
Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor (“Pathétique”), Op. 13
Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, Op. 14/1
Piano Sonata No. 10 in G major, Op. 14/2
Piano Sonata No. 11 in B flat major, Op. 22

CD 06
Piano Sonata No. 25 in G major (“Cuckoo”), Op. 79
Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp major (“A Thérèse”), Op. 78
Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90
Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor (“Appassionata”), Op. 57

Also available:  Pritchard: Verdi - La Traviata (2 CD, APE)

CD 07
Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat major (“Grand Sonata”), Op. 7
Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major (“Pastoral”), Op. 28
Piano Sonata No. 20 in G major, Op. 49/2

CD 08
Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major (“Hammerklavier”), Op. 106
Piano Sonata No. 26 in E flat major (“Les Adieux”), Op. 81a

CD 09
Piano Sonata No. 5 in C minor, Op. 10/1
Piano Sonata No. 6 in F major, Op. 10/2
Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10/3

CD 10
Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109
Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, Op. 110
Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111

Better than the 1970’s set (but not always)

I recently bought this set and listened to sonatas 1 through 32 over the course of several days. I also have Brendel’s 1970s set, and there are obvious differences. The sound quality of the new set is superior. The performances are generally superior with the new set, but not uniformly. It would be impracticable to attempt to catalog the performance differences in quality as they vary not just from sonata to sonata, but from movement to movement, and even within passages within movements. Further complicating things for my own evaluations is that over time I may change my opinion.

The overall effect of the new set is positive enough to warrant recommendation to anyone who does not have a specific distaste for Brendel, but not quite enough to say toss the old set. I have a feeling I’ll enjoy comparing these two sets for a long time. If I had to recommend one over the other I would choose the new set. Having both is better than either one alone. Of course, whether the reader of this review would agree with anything written here is another matter. I suggest listening to sample clips.

One thing I’ll say for Brendel is that he gives me the impression of an astonishing degree of control of touch, and an uncanny feel for utilizing the sound of the notes after striking them. Once a key is struck on a piano, nothing can be done with it except to lift off the key or pedal to silence it. But a skilled solo pianist can play with these voices like a good chamber player uses the sounds of other players in combination with his own to sculpt something beautiful. One example of this is what Brendel does in the first movement of Waldstein at bar 68 where the shimmering quasi trill line emerges from the decay of the emphasized fp strike of the left hand on the first beat. It may be that the first note on bar 68 is held a bit longer than the text warrants, but I don’t care. The notes that follow are made even more effective in the wake of the decay, and the effect impressed me. However, other listeners might react very differently to what Brendel does with the music, so again I would urge the curious reader of reviews to seek out audio clips to sample.

17 Comments

  1. Спасибо вам большое. То, что вы сделали — это потрясающе!

  2. Thank you for all this greate music!
    Need to ask you something please.Are any covers anyware of this box?
    I saw that also in torrents there not any:(
    If you know will be great.
    Gregory…

  3. Ich Liebe diese Musik, und diese 10 cd habe ich mir gleich bestellt. Freue mich jetzt schon darauf

  4. Thanks a lot. This is truly one of the gems of the Beethoven reportoire.

  5. L’art nous évite de plonger dans la barbarie. Brendel et Beethoven nous donnent des instants de pur bonheur.

  6. This is Brendel 1992-1996, Philips (digital).
    Your other post – brendel-beethoven-the-complete-piano-sonatas-11-cd-box-set-ape/ – is Brendel 1970-1977 (analog) at Philips.
    And (can’t say this too often)…. thank you so much for all the job your doing!

Leave a Reply