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Sonatas Nos. 8, 14 & 23 [recordings] by…

Sonatas Nos. 8, 14 & 23 [recordings]

by Ludwig van Beethoven

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)

Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 “Pathétique”

[1] I. Grave – Allegro di molto e con brio
[2] II. Adagio cantabile
[3] III. Rondo: Allegro
Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 “Appassionata”
[4] I. Allegro assai
[5] II. Andante con motto –
[6] III. Allegro, ma non troppo
Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 “Moonlight”
[7] I. Adagio sostenuto –
[8] II. Allegretto –
[9] III. Presto agitato
[10] Rondo in G major, Op. 51 No. 2

Claudio Arrau, piano

Recorded: 6/1962 (Moonlight) & 9/1963 (Pathetique, Rondo), Bachzaal, Amsterdam; 9/1965, Kleine Zaal, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam (Appassionata).

Decca, 2010. 74:15. Decca Originals. Liner notes by Jeremy Hayes.


This album was probably supposed to contain the Waldstein Sonata instead of the Rondo, as in the case of Wilhelm Kempff on a rival label, but Arrau’s penchant for slow tempi apparently thwarted that plan. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful sample from the art of one of the greatest Beethovenians from the last century. Arrau was in his late fifties and early sixties when he made his first, and only, complete recording of the sonatas, from which these three are extracted, and he was also very much in his prime. There is much to be said for his late remakes from the 1980s of all but two of the sonatas, but these autumnal performances, remarkable though they are, remain a second choice. The accounts from the 1960s give you Arrau at his absolute best, powerful without banging, subtly paced without being dragged, and really quite unlike any other pianist. You can be sure that the slow tempi and the careful phrasing are the result, not of any technical deficiency, but of conscious and well thought out choice. Arrau’s technique was in fact stupendous, good enough to impress no less a critic than Harold Schonberg – not the easiest man to impress, to be sure. But you listen to Arrau for his profound musicianship, not for his technique (which he hides so well that you barely notice it). The sound is surprisingly fine. I say “surprisingly” because generally Arrau was not lucky with his recording engineers; but in this case they managed to achieve natural fullness and impeccable clarity at the same time. If you want to know why Claudio Arrau is all but worshipped in Beethoven, you needn’t look further than this album. (But I do suggest you also try his concertos with Bernard Haitink from 1964 – or at least the remakes with Colin Davis from the 1980s.) ( )
  Waldstein | Sep 22, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
van Beethoven, Ludwigprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arrau, Claudiomain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Backhaus, Wilhelmpianomain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gould, Glennmain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serkin, Rudolfmain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Please combine here only complete recordings of these three sonatas. Bonus tracks are allowed (e.g. Rondo 51/2), but in case of whole new sonatas (e.g. Waldstein), please keep separate.
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