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.
For those who like their Beethoven raw there is no need to read further - this set is probably not their cup of tea and for some may be even shocking. Refinement, intellectualism, and opposition to the fads of the day are the keys here.
Ciccolini is, pure and simple, a magician. Who else could have transformed Beethoven's impulsive movements into majestic fireworks? Tormented passions into songs of sheer beauty? Mercurial ebbs and flows into a dance-like harmony? And all these are done with the magisterial technique of an iconoclast of an Old World sort, of whom the liner notes say, "He has, through his teachers, inherited the teachings of Ferrucio Busoni and Franz Liszt." Indeed.
This is not the Beethoven you knew: it's a highly distilled art, a set of piano sonatas as you've never heard them - and you should.