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Piano sonatas no. 7 and 23 (sound recording)…

Piano sonatas no. 7 and 23 (sound recording)

by Ludwig van Beethoven

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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)

Sonata in F minor, Op. 57 “Appassionata”
[1] I. Allegro assai [9:54]
[2] II. Andante con motto [5:27]
[3] III. Allegro, ma non troppo [8:14]
(Recorded on May 14, 18 and 25, 1959, in Carnegie Hall, New York City)

Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10 No. 3 [23:34]
[4] I. Presto [6:30]
[5] II. Largo e mesto [10:25]
[6] III. Menuetto: Allegro [2:43]
[7] IV. Rondo: Allegro [3:52]
(Recorded on May 29 and June 10, 1959, in Carnegie Hall, New York City)

Vladimir Horowitz, piano

RCA Victor, 1998. Living Stereo. 47:18. Liner notes by Samuel Chotzinoff. Uncredited “The History of Living Stereo”.


This was the first stereo recording Horowitz ever made – and the last one for RCA, his label since 1942, for the next seventeen years or so. It was not a very good stereo in the first place, and it didn’t sound very good on the old RCA Gold edition from 1990. It doesn’t sound much better on this 1998 remastered edition. The clarity and dynamics are terrific, but the depth and sonority are not. The playing is another matter. Horowitz did have his problems with Beethoven, and these have been repeated to death. But he also did have his fine Beethovenian moments, and these have been generally neglected. This Appassionata, I agree with Harold Schonberg, is “an impressive achievement [...] an example of monumental Beethoven playing.” On the other hand, I disagree with him that only the first movement from Op. 10 No. 3 is fine. I like the unusually slow tempo and the vast dynamic range of the second movement. I find no “undue emphases” in the dashing finale. Both sonatas are essentially different works than those played by Wilhelm Kempff (whose Beethoven I adore), but surely there is enough place under the sun for such difference of opinion. The fawning liner notes by Samuel Chotzinoff are valuable only because they quote (hopefully accurately) Horowitz on Beethoven. If nothing else, these quotes at least prove that Horowitz, while no intellectual (praised be the God of Piano for that!), studied a great deal the music he played. ( )
  Waldstein | Feb 1, 2018 |
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