Stephen Kovacevich has become the foremost interpreter of Beethovens pianoworks. He had his breakthrough at the end of the sixties with the Diabelli variations and the Piano concertos with Sir Colin Davies. Both the variations and the concertos are to this day unsurpassed. He has had some downs in his career, especially the pianoconcertos recorded with the Australia chamberorchestra. Hopefully we'll have a whole cycle of the sonatas soon. He has recorded 21 of the 32 sonatas now on EMI and this has the potential of becoming the best version of the greatest music known to man. There is only one letdown among those, the sonata no 32 where I wish he would have listened a bit more to Schnabel's more sesitive and lyrical touch. In these sonatas however he is better than his closest competitors Schnabel and Kempff. He has the clarity, the playfullness and the technique. He avoids Kempff's somewhat too stiff treatments and sometimes to slow approach. Schnabel probably still earns his nickname "Master of the Adagio", but he sometimes blurred the notes in the fast passages, something we never hear from Kovacevich. He doesn't try to dazzle the listener with his technique, even though he accomplishes that in difficult passages (here most noteworthy in no 16), where one can hear that he doesn't have to exert himself. These versions are even better than the ones he made on Phillips in the 70's. Here he shows the neccessary ingredients of being able to play strictly classical, romantically raging and at the same time apply a sense of humour. Schnabel said this music is better than it can be played, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. The somewhat jumpy no 16, the mysterious Tempest(not many can make the arpeggios sound coherent) and the gay and beutiful Hunt. My only complaint is that the pianosound is a little too shrill, which is strange coming from a Steinway.