Every man's death diminishes us all, but the death of a man so close to completing his greatest achievement and the summation of his life's work diminishes us all greatly – very, very greatly. When Emil Gilels died in 1985, he had completed recordings of most but not all of Beethoven's piano sonatas, released here in a nine-disc set. What's here is unimaginably good: superlative recordings of 27 of the 32 canonical sonatas, including the "Pathétique," "Moonlight," "Waldstein," "Appassionata," "Les Adieux," and the majestic "Hammerklavier," plus the two early "Electoral" Sonatas and the mighty Eroica Variations. What's missing is unimaginably priceless: five of the canonical sonatas, including the first and – horror vacui – the last. But still, for what there is, we must be grateful. Beyond all argument one of the great pianists of the twentieth century, Gilels the Soviet super virtuoso had slowly mellowed and ripened over his long career, and when he began recording the sonatas in 1972, his interpretations had matured and deepened while his superlative technique remained gloriously intact straight through to the last recordings of his final year.
Paavali Jumppanen is an internationally esteemed pianist, with a vast performance repertoire spanning from Bach to the Avant-garde. Jumppanen’s performances of the complete cycles of Beethoven’s and Mozart’s Piano Sonatas as well as Beethoven’s concertos and chamber music have won critical acclaim. Jumppanen has collaborated with numerous contemporary composers and has premiered many solo and chamber works for the piano. Of particular note are his recordings of Pierre Boulez’s complete piano sonatas at the request of the composer. This adaptability between musical genres gives a fresh reading of the core classical piano repertoire.
Maurizio Pollini’s Beethoven Sonatas cycle has reached completion after nearly 40 years. We celebrate this major event with a handsome 8-CD capbox that provides a fitting testimonial to a great artistic partnership between pianist and record label. The final recordings in the cycle (opp. 31 & 49) are being released simultaneously as a single CD.
…Until I heard Brautigam on this SACD. This is for me his greatest achievement over the 7 Beethoven discs. A breathtaking feeling for everything on the right place. His tempo, speed, accents, volume, absolutely everything is combined to 1 unique reading. Yes, this is a Beethoven sonata! I experienced how Beethoven’s genius, Brautigams insight & virtuosity & the sound of the instrument blended to one grasping, divine moment of beautiful music.Then for artist & listener a demanding fugue is heavenly presented, the complex structure comes out crystal clear. Add the marvelous sound of the SACD medium & one can consider this SACD as a new reference in recording history. I hope we don’t have to wait another year for the Last Sonatas…" ~sa-cd.net