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Pno Sons 29/30/32/Bagatelles Original recording remastered

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 1 2010)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B0000CE7FK
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #240,981 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Disc: 1
1. I. Allegro
2. II. Scherzo (Assai vivace) - Presto
3. III. Adagio sostenuto
4. IV. Largo - Allegro - Allegro risoluto
5. I. Vivace, ma non troppo - Adagio espressivo
6. II. Prestissimo
7. III. Tema (Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo ) - Variazioni I-VI
Disc: 2
1. I. Moderato cantabile molto espressivo
2. II. Allegro molto
3. III. Adagio ma non troppo - Fuga (Allegro ma non troppo)
4. I. Maestoso - Allegro con brio ed appassionato
5. II. Arietta (Adagio molto semplice e cantabile) - Variazoni I-IV - Coda
6. I. Andante con moto (G major)
7. II Allegro (G minor)
8. III Andante cantabile e grazioso (E flat major)
9. IV Presto (B minor)
10. V Quasi allegretto
See all 11 tracks on this disc

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I love these two CDs. I read about Christoph Eschenbach's early years on his website a few months ago and I think that is part of the reason why he is such a great musician. The Opus 109 really moved me - sublime indeed. What a great bargain and I can see why this is a Penguin Guide Rosette selection.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa5d55534) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5b9d450) out of 5 stars Unforgettable Beethoven from an Unforgettable Artist Jan. 23 2006
By Lloyd Paguia Arriola - Published on
Format: Audio CD
These performances of Beethoven's last piano sonatas are the kind that make pianists want to forget about playing the repertoire at hand, or forget playing the piano at all. Christoph Eschenbach is currently the music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, but while his conducting is exceptionally assured, it should not be forgotten what a great pianist he still is--though he plays solo concerts with all the frequency of a new Beethoven piano work being discovered.

The Hammerklavier Sonata, Opus 106, the first item on this Gemini EMI reissue, is the greatest recording of it I have ever heard of the forty-plus discs I own of this work. The first movement is brilliantly fast and cleanly-executed (listen to those powerful octaves and chords), yet imbued with a special warmth of sound both in the cantabile sections as well as in the forte and fortissimo passages (a rarely-achieved feat). This is all the more remarkable particularly considering the fact that the piece is being played quite close to Beethoven's quite unreasonable metronome markings. And some low bass-octave additions are not disturbing, but rather in keeping with the monumental quality of the performance. The second movement has terrific humor, gossamer-light articulation, and even violence--and many other moods besides. As a pianist who has played this composition, these attributes are all the more astonishing because I know personally how hard it is to make these elements coalesce!

The crowning moments of the work are in the Adagio (at over twenty-five minutes, this is one of the slowest of all Hammerklavier adagios, exceeded only by Michael Korstick's nearly twenty-nine-minute performance), given here with an ineffable beauty of sound and a feeling of sorrow unmatched by even Gilels or Serkin--the coda is truly soul-stirring, and everything preceding it is gorgeous when it must be, quietly dignified, even imperially remote, in its sense of awe-inspiring tragedy. The Finale (with its marvelous atmosphere of mystery in its exploratory beginning, followed by a complex fugue) has never been better clarified or planned-out. Like a great detective story, this is a performance that displays exhilarating suspensefulness, leading us down many terrifying and treacherous roads until we reach a true climax culminating in an overwhelmingly devastating peroration, an apotheosis of immense, mammoth dimensions. To repeat, this is without a doubt the best peformance I have ever heard of the Hammerklavier Sonata, unlikely to be surpassed in my listening. (And if it is bettered, I will be the first to say so on Amazon!)

The remainder of the two-disc set, while excellent, is not as exhilarating. The E Major Sonata is warm and deeply expressive, brilliant, and highly diffuse in mood. The A flat major Sonata is almost as fine as the Hammerklavier, again particularly in the finale, which reminds one of Brendel's vision of the finale as a kind of immolation, and once again Eschenbach's tone is of the most extraordinary beauty, particularly in the "Klagender Gesang" section in G minor.

Although the last sonata is not the greatest performance of this work committed to disc (listen to Jacob Lateiner on a long-deleted RCA LP, or my own personal favorite, Anatol Ugorski's massively-distended Deutsche Grammophon CD, also deleted), it is nevertheless thoroughly recommendable, as are the charming chips from Beethoven's workbench, the Bagatelles, played with all the requisite quirkiness of Beethoven's final period.

This very inexpensive reissue is however most important for the monumental performance of Opus 106, and it surpasses even Eschenbach's earlier Deutsche Grammophon disc from around 1967 (excellent, too, but also never re-released by DG--odd!). EMI have done Eschenbach's pianistic reputation much good with this 1976 Hammerklavier, which, as far as I know, was never released in the United States. I wonder why--it is a musical treasure. Sound is excellent, and I hope many buy this fine disc. Can we ask Eschenbach to do the Beethoven-Weingartner orchestration of the Hammerklavier Sonata with his Philadelphia Orchestra, if only to remind us of his fantastic EMI recording made thirty years ago? The orchestral "Hammerklavier" could very well compare to this unforgettable recording of the Opus 106 Sonata.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5b9d4a4) out of 5 stars THE BEST HAMMERKLAVIER Nov. 6 2006
By Milan Simich - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This album contains the Best Hammerklavier on record. It is just SO RIGHT! in it's pacing. I own 2 copies of the vinyl, just in case I put a scratch on one (not yet!). I have heard many Hammerklaviers, including Rudolf Serkin on a blizzard night at Carnegie on Beethoven's Birthday, if I remember correctly. Had to walk home 2 miles, thru the snow. While Uchida's Hammerklavier at Carnegie a year or so ago was the most exciting, I didn't sleep for 2 nights!... a headlong rush thru the first 2 movements, followed by an Adagio that was even slower than anything that Pogorolich could envision, which made me want to scream 'Move It Along Lady!' and then back to the final movement faster than her fingers could articulate. Also the 2 versions by Francois Frederic-Guy are terrific. There is so much to this Sonata.!!! But Eschenbach's is as I said just right! it's all of a piece and there is no sense of fatigue or piano defeating the pianists as with so many others. (I do think though, that it should be performed on an upright rather than concert grand. On Pianoforte is interesting, but a little jangling...upright would be just right.

The other Sonatas are not the same because they are not on the level of the Hammerklavier, but still are terrific performances. Highly Recommended.

BTW Eschenbach has been kicked out as artistic Director of Philadelphie, I'm told. Too bad, as I enjoy his conducting, rough as it can be sometimes. Best Berlioz Fantastique I ever heard live with his Orchestra De Paris, or whatever they're called.

Anyway, Buy this record. you won't regret it.

PS Heard last week Pogorelich in concert do the Opus 111...took 42 minutes, but weird as it was, it was like he was getting the notes dictated directly from Beethoven as he was playing. Fascinating!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5810414) out of 5 stars A "new" Beethoven pianist in great form Dec 18 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These EMi recordings form 1976 and 1978 have been gone for so long (or ot released in the U.S. at all) that they seem new. Eschenbach's career as a pianist was long ago eclipssed by his career as a conductor. Like Barenboim, he's a much better instrumentalist than maestro, and these stunning late sonatas are proof. Eschenbach's personality in these works is heroic, extroverted, and urgent. He's the anti-Arrau. You don't hear a ponderous phrase, nothing is deeply thought, nothing is held in reserve.

Some listeners may dislike such a blunt approach, but unlike Pollini, whose late Beethoven sonatas contian more than their share of steely aloofness (much as it pains me to admit), Eschenbach's touch isn't steely or percussive. In the Hamemrklavier, where percussiveness is hard to avoid, he's aided by a warm, sonorous instrument whose treble has a nice bell tone, and EMI's close up recording doesnt' emphasize the sound of the piano's action. I'm not sure that the other sonatas could be called first choices, but if you gravitate to pianists like Pollini and Serkin, Eschenbach is in that class of exciting virtuosos whose sense of riming seems intuitively right.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa645369c) out of 5 stars Excellent late Beethoven Dec 3 2007
By Oldnslow - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Eschenbach's performances of these late Beethoven sonatas rank with the best. They are characterized by a wide range of dynamics and tempo (especially in Op 109-111). People easily forget what a great pianist Eschenbach is (or was). I recall a magnificant Bartok solo recording on, I believe, the old Telefunken label in the mid-60's, and of course his Mozart sonatas are highly regarded. Unlike Barenboim, who amazingly retains his committment to the piano despite a very busy career as a conductor, Eshenbach seems to have pretty much set the piano aside in favor of conducting. In any event, these powerful performances of such challenging material rank with the very best, and that is an accomplishment he must be very proud of. Superb recording quality, and a bargain two-fer price, make this set a must, no matter how many performances of these great works you have.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5b9d8dc) out of 5 stars Master's eloquent renderings stand the test of time Feb. 29 2008
By I. Innes - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas 29, 30, 31 & 32; Bagatelles, Op. 126; Christoph Eschenbach I had a much-loved vinyl recording in the 1970s of Eschenbach's rendering of the Hammerklavier, so my perception of later recordings may always have been coloured by that first encounter. However it is a delight to hear it again, driving forward with feverish energy, perhaps a little fast, but characterised by beautiful shaping of phrases,richly shaded whether at ppp or ff, technically brilliant of course but still retaining an overall sense of control and great musicianship. For me the obvious comparison is with the Kovacevich recording which I own and enjoy, although it seems to me a performance filled with a sense of portent and gravitas. If these qualities are less obvious in the Eschenbach performance the result is no less overwhelming.
Three other sonatas, nos 30,31 and 32, are notable for the introspective style of performance, the Op.109 in particular played with great grace and formal elegance. The transfer from analogue retains a strong sense of warmth and authenticity.