Beethoven: Complete Sonatas & Variations
€9,99 – €28,49
Read a blog post about this recording here, written by Eelco Grimm of Grimm Audio. The company that made the AD1 converter, with which this recording was made in 2004.
At the time of the release (in 2005), Pieter Wispelwey wrote these liner notes:
It is thirteen years since I first recorded the Beethoven sonatas and it
seemed there were plenty of reasons to do it again. Although the first recording had
been on period instruments most of the Beethoven recitals I did over the last twenty
years had been ‘modern’. On top of that I very recently had acquired a Guadagnini cello that needed baptising.
It also was a good opportunity to celebrate the new partnership with Dejan Lazic,
with whom this music had already been ‘tried out’ for about seven years. Thirteen years ago the period instruments were a source of excitement. The liveliness of the
gut strings and the combination of explosivity and tenderness of the fortepiano were
Now with Dejan I felt more than ever that we were able to
simulate several vital ‘period’ characteristics while still enthusiastically enjoying our
And then there was a reborn ambition to try as hard as we could to evoke the euphoria
of a good concert. Sometimes you give one and if there was one concert that was a
direct inspiration for this recording it was a performance of all sonatas and variations
in the Grote Zaal of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in the late summer of 2004. It
started at 6pm, we had a great piano, there was lots of atmosphere and of course
there were those incomparable acoustics. There was even soup in the first interval.
In short everything fell in its place. Also there were no microphones… In other words
not circumstances that were easy to imitate in a studio, apart from the soup. After
that concert we thought now really we ought to give it a try.
Interestingly enough this ‘live’ feeling seemed particularly appropriate for this music
in which liveliness and spirit are so paramount. In the sonatas there are eleven fast
movements against one slow one plus five slow introductions. Of those eleven two are
to be played just Allegro, one Allegro ma non tanto and one Allegro fugato. For the
other seven it is Allegro con brio, Allegro molto, Allegro molto più tosto presto and
four times Allegro vivace.
If we are to believe the famous student of Beethoven and celebrated pianist Carl
Czerny even those normal Allegro’s and the ma non tanto and the fugato should be
quite fast, judging from his metronome markings for them: 160 and 72 for the quarter
(tracks 2 and 19, CD 1), 72 for the half bar (track 1, CD 2) and 63 for a fugue bar (track
11, CD 2). Not to mention the other metronome markings…
For your entertainment I give you a short listing of his suggestions for the eleven fast
• Opus 5 no. 1: ‘sehr lebhaft und brillant; feurig, sehr lebhaft und brillant’
• Opus 5 no. 2: ‘sehr stürmisch, brillant mit Bravour und Kraft; heiter, lebhaft und
• Opus 69: ‘alla breve doch gemässigt (Halbe = 72, Sic!); sehr schnell, sehr brillant
mit Bravour; schnell und brillant’
• Opus 102 no. 1: ‘rasch und kräftig; mit Feuer, Leben und muntrer Laune’
• Opus 102 no. 2: ‘lebhaft, grossartig, kräftig und entschieden; staccato, nicht übereilt
(Takt = 63, Sic!)’
He would have been a demanding producer… Of course we played as we felt we
needed to play and if I am totally honest I have to admit that I only looked up his
remarks after the recording. Having consulted him in the past, this time we decided
against that. Not out of laziness or naughtiness but because we felt it more to be in
the spirit of Beethoven to maintain a healthy scepticism towards any authority and to
try to emulate his unique temperament independently and instinctively. That we more
or less seem to have acted in Czerny’s spirit after all is ironic and humbling at the
C. Jared Sacks, Pieter Wispelwey
C. Jared Sacks
Muziekgebouw Eindhoven, The Netherlands
|Analog to digital converter|
Grimm AD1 / Meitner DA
<p>piano: Steinway D (with special thanks to Muziekcentrum Frits Philips)<br>violoncello: 1760, by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini</p>
Bruel & Kjaer 4006, Schoeps
Pyramix Editing/Merging Technologies
Audio Lab, Holland
BBC Music Magazine
Above all these accounts, outstandingly recorded, communicate a level of vitality and spontaneity that is normally experienced in live concerts. From the very first bar of the F major Sonata one feels that Wispelwey and Lazić are re-examining each familiar phrase and finding new and infinitely varied ways of responding to Beethoven’s musical argument.
“highly distinctive performances, played with enormous flair and perfect technical control, and splendidly recorded”
Gramophone (Awards Issue 2005)
The articulation and attack, the use of vibrato and the shaping of phrases all combine to make this a richly rewarding experience.
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