The French pianist of Italian origin Aldo Ciccolini, well-known as the foremost interpreter of Erik Satie, recorded the complete Beethoven piano sonatas for the Bongiovanni label in the nineties; this edition, coming from the Swiss label Cascavelle, brings together all those ten CDs in a stylish wallet box. The CDs are organized as micro-recitals, usually containing early as well as middle and late period sonatas.
"…a commanding performance of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy… Brendel's playing of the slow movement of No. 5 was for me one of the high spots of his set, for its measured calm is perfect…" –Gramophone
A revolutionary man living in a revolutionary time, Beethoven used the piano as his personal musical laboratory. The piano sonata became, more than any other genre of music, a place where he could experiment with harmony, motivic development, the contextual use of form, and, most important, his developing view of music as a self-expressive art. Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas include some of his most popular works as well as some of his most experimental. More than any other of his amazing works, Beethoven's piano sonatas are his personal testament, expressed in his own voice.
Rudolf Serkin's 1964 recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto in C minor is surely among the greatest recordings of the work ever made, and certainly his finest performance of the work. The energy and enthusiasm and even passion he brings to Concerto in C minor is overwhelming, and indeed, it overwhelms Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, who accompany Serkin with the sort of commitment that only a conductor and orchestra give to soloists when they are deeply inspired. But while Serkin's 1962 recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto in E flat major is also surely among the greatest recordings of the work ever made, it is not quite Serkin's finest recording of the work.
Major documents from Rudolf Kempe's later years at the head of the Munich Philharmonic. Beethoven's Fifth, that masterpiece of emotional tension, and his Sixth, all vivid depiction of nature, are both readings of maturity and perfection.
Maria João Pires “shapes and colours every phrase, and with immaculate taste, and she makes sure the phrases end as eloquently as they begin,” wrote Gramophone in 1974. “She conveys not just the details but the relevance of every note to the whole … Best of all, she communicates everything she has discovered about the music, and it is worth having.” This Portuguese pupil of Wilhelm Kempff, Pires was one of the artists who defined the Erato label in the 1970s and 1980s. This 5-CD box gathers together the recordings she made over the period from 1976 to 1985 and it reflects the consistent focus of her repertoire, with its special emphasis on Austro-German composers of the Classical and early-Romantic periods. Embracing solo works, piano duets and concertos, it contains works by Mozart, Schumann, Beethoven, but also by Bach and Chopin.