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Beethoven: The Late Piano Sonatas

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Beethoven: The Late Piano Sonatas + Beethoven - Piano Sonatas 8, 14, 21 & 23  (DG The Originals)
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Product details

  • Composer: Beethoven
  • Audio CD (24 Mar. 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Import Music Services
  • ASIN: B000001GY0
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 224,464 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Disc 1:

Song Title Time Price
  1. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.27 in E minor, Op.90 - 1. Mit Lebhaftigkeit und durchaus mit Empfindung und Ausdruck 5:19£0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.27 in E minor, Op.90 - 2. Nicht zu geschwind und sehr singbar vorgetragen 8:47£0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.28 in A, Op.101 - 1. Etwas lebhaft und mit der innigsten Empfindung (Allegretto ma non troppo) 3:33£0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.28 in A, Op.101 - 2. Lebhaft, marschmäßig (Vivace alla marcia) 5:52£0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.28 in A, Op.101 - 3. Langsam und sehnsuchtsvoll (Adagio ma non troppo, con affetto) 2:31£0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.28 in A, Op.101 - 4. Geschwind, doch nicht zu sehr und mit Entschlossenheit (Allegro) 5:45£0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.29 in B flat, Op.106 -"Hammerklavier" - 1. Allegro 8:49£0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.29 in B flat, Op.106 -"Hammerklavier" - 2. Scherzo (Assai vivace - Presto - Prestissimo - Tempo I) 2:42£0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.29 in B flat, Op.106 -"Hammerklavier" - 3. Adagio sostenuto16:27Album Only
10. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.29 in B flat, Op.106 -"Hammerklavier" - 4. Largo - Allegro risoluto12:06Album Only

Disc 2:

Song Title Time Price
  1. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.30 in E, Op.109 - 1. Vivace, ma non troppo - Adagio espressivo - Tempo I 3:21£0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.30 in E, Op.109 - 2. Prestissimo 2:27£0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.30 in E, Op.109 - 3. Gesangvoll, mit innigster Empfindung (Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo)11:06Album Only
  4. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.31 in A flat, Op.110 - 1. Moderato cantabile molto espressivo 6:18£0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.31 in A flat, Op.110 - 2. Allegro molto 2:16£0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.31 in A flat, Op.110 - 3. Adagio ma non troppo - Fuga (Allegro ma non troppo) 9:44£0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111 - 1. Maestoso - Allegro con brio ed appassionato 8:54£0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111 - 2. Arietta (Adagio molto semplice e cantabile)15:24Album Only

Product Description

DGG 4530102; DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON - Germania; Classica da camera Piano

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By richard on 5 Mar. 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It doesn't matter if these recordings duplicate those one may have of other artists. Kempff's interpretations are classics of their kind and bring unfailing pleasure. I am doing no more than approving of what is approved of but in the face of such class, what is one to do? These recordings date from the '60's, perhaps his best period, but with digital remastering the sound is almost a match for modern recordings so is not an issue.
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By Arne Sande on 23 Nov. 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've heard many versions of the late Beethoven sonatas since the early 70s when I was overwhelmed by these Kempff recordings. Brendel, Rosen, Ashkenazy come to mind, but must take second place. With Kempff, sublime simplicity describes the sonatas as well as the interpretations. The lightweight DG recordings match the heavenly playing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Many Great Moments 19 Sept. 2005
By Michael Paull - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Wilhelm Kempff is one of those pianists who became famous (along with Brendel, and a few others) for taking a much different interpretive approach to Beethoven's piano music than the usual blood-and-guts style favored by other performers throughout history (all the way back to Beethoven himself, so say contemporary accounts). So if you're looking for that kind of player, I would suggest trying Ashkenazy or even Schnabel.

This legendary pianist is of a different breed. Even in the big crescendos, one hears a sense of reserve in this man's playing that gives the impression of an introverted personality at work, although with absolutely no lack of expressive power or imagination anywhere. It is with much of the music in these late sonatas that this approach works particularly well.

One reason, is that these sonatas ARE more inward-looking and enigmatic than Beethoven's earlier efforts. While there are some real barnstorming moments throughout the late sonatas, they are largely surrounded by long stretches of introspective musical narrative, and moments of quirky abstraction. Beethoven was clearly exploring new territory.

Kempff's strength here, is that not only does he already have the personality for this kind of music, but his incredibly pure musicality and sense of improvisation make even the thorniest moments in these works actually sound...beautiful (not an easy thing to do).

My favorite interpretations by him have been the late Bagatelles (not a part of this set, but very worth getting), the sonatas 27 and 28, AND...the first movement of the "Hammerklavier" sonata (my single favorite recorded performance by this artist).

By now, you might have read another review, posted here, that discusses, and is very critical of Kempff's version of this sonata movement. The reviewer is very knowledgable, and clearly knows what Beethoven's metronome markings are supposed to be. In fact, every point made in the review is well-founded, and difficult to argue (if you haven't read the review, the main point is that it is played too slowly). Of course, most pianists (including people like Pollini) DO take the tempos in the faster movements at least a little bit slower than what Beethoven had originally indicated.

Kempff takes the tempo down yet another couple notches. The result is more of an Allegro Moderato, and a completely different feel than what I'd heard up to then by other pianists. It would be difficult to even describe the first impression it made on me. It was frankly, a bit off-putting until I got used to it. Then, over time, it completely won me over. It might be the first interpretation that has...

You see, I'd always had my doubts about the composition of this movement. There is for me, an impression of fragmentation of ideas/themes throughout the work's structure that gives me the impression of someone on an ill-fated hike through the woods, where one loses all sense of direction, and ends up walking by the same landmarks again and again. Themes seem to spring up repeatedly with too many of their original trappings, and not enough development, and even the fugue in the middle ends all too quickly to my ears. This is not the usual experience I have with Beethoven's music, the (for me) real master of organic structure among all the great composers.

Kempff brings that sense of the "organic" back to the music, not only by taking his time, tempo-wise, but by use of the most brilliant phrasing and pacing of ideas. Suddenly, this movement sounds not like a group of smaller events re-played again and again, but one larger unfolding story. Instead of a labyrinth that takes one through the same section(s) of woods, it now feels like one freshly-cut trail that goes ever deeper into the heart of the forest. If I could use use one word to describe the experience, it would be "kalaidascopic".

Beethoven was once listening to one of the most brilliant young pianists of the day play one of this works, and when she was finished, he said "If that is in no way what I had in mind as to how this piece should be played, it is perhaps even better. Please go on..."
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Greatly improved sound quality 20 Oct. 2001
By Robert Bezimienny - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
These are revered works and Kempff's renditions have attracted equally reverential reviews by informed critics - for mine, this set is one of the best available. Having earlier acquired the entire 32 sonata edition, I purchased this hoping for improved sound quality from the new transfer - I was not disappointed. The sound is spectacularly improved. If you are thinking of buying these performances again for the same reason, then don't hesitate. Deutsche Grammophon have actually remastered the entire 32, and that set is available under 'Complete Beethoven Edition'. Also, aside from formal works on music theory, there is an interesting discussion of Beethoven's late sonatas in 'Doctor Faustus', by Thomas Mann.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Spiritual Beethoven from Kempff 9 Jan. 2012
By cranebridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
First of all: I have no professional insights into either Beethoven or piano. So take however many grains of salt you will to this amateur's review.

I had previously listened to Kempff's take on 4 of Beethoven's sonatas and loved it. Quoting my previous review concerning Kempff: "he is in love with the piano. He is communicating with it when he plays it, and you feel like eavesdropping when you listen to this recording. Seems like this guy will play things the same personal way no matter who is (or not) watching or listening." This still stands. Whatever Mr. Kempff played, he made it his own.

Bach is a bottomless well. It is rather calm because it is deep. He was a spiritual man, and had within him the "spring of water that wells up to eternal life". Beethoven is a mountain, firm, conspicuous, and holds undiscovered treasures, creatures, and dangers. Where Bach is deep, Beethoven is lofty. Beethoven's deafness, in my view, was a blessing as well as a curse. Seeing how his music and his person turned out, it appears to be more the former than the latter. It brought him pain and suffering, but also enabled him to reach a spiritual height that he otherwise might never have reached. This is why I chose to buy the "late sonatas", to hear his compositions when he had become more spiritual than passionate. Kempff's interpretations do not disappoint in this regard. He once again infuses meaning into these late pieces.

The booklet contains what Kempff wrote about each of these 6 sonatas. They were very insightful and helps you to understand where the performer comes from.

Sonata 27 - in Kempff's words, the remarkable simplicity of the melody is like a country girl, without cosmetics or extra bling. He is right. The melody is pure and hymn-like. The greatness of Beethoven is no less evident - it's always about the heart and not the technique. As Tagore says: "It is the most distant course that comes nearest to Thyself, and the training is most intricate which leads to the utter simplicity of a tune."

Sonata 28 - Kempff said that Hammerklavier was truly a beginning to the romantic age. I'd argue that this sonata, one before Hammerklavier, already predicts that. Certain phrasings have already departed and wandered far from classical realm and into what is distinctively romantic.

Sonata 29 "Hammerklavier" - a favorite of many, but rather new to me. Kempff wrote the most on this piece, obviously in awe of it and having reflected much on it. He called the adagio movement "unequalled" in all of piano literature. I truly appreciate how he made so much sense of the piece for himself, which helped to make it understandable to me. I cannot tell when something on the piano is superbly difficult or marvelously played (technically speaking). The piano, unlike the violin, can play so many notes at once. Kempff plays them in a way so that I can sense the mood changes, thought processes, conflicts and their resolutions rather than just hearing a torrent of notes.

Sonata 30 - another example of Beethoven with an inner conflict. Frequently in Beethoven piano pieces, sonatas or concertos, two melodies seem to engage in either love or war. They complement and compete at the same time. The rivalry has often been cited to reflect the artist's inner life. Sonata 30 illustrates that - more love than war, though, I think.

Sonata 31 - Kempff saw this as a personal confession of Beethoven. As usual he played it reflectively.

Sonata 32 - This is like Beethoven 9th of the piano sonatas. 2 movements. The first one is like the first movement of the 9th. It reflects the "human" journey of Beethoven. Expressed are the unrelenting hardships, fiery passion, lofty ideals, unspeakable loneliness and heroic efforts that make up the admirable Beethoven in the flesh. The second movement, as Kempff says, takes on 5 variations, as in a journey. Kempff called Beethoven Faustian, which I'd disagree with. Where Faust is defeated at the end, Beethoven is victorious. The second movement sounds more like a journey through the heavens. Or perhaps, a view of his life from a transcendental perspective.

In all this, I believe that Beethoven as a person did become more spiritual toward the end, perhaps much helped by his deafness. Kempff's interpretation certainly brings out that kind of profoundness and makes these sonatas understandable to me. I do like it very much.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Awe inspiring 17 July 2000
By Eric Klavins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is one of my favorite albums. I could listen to it over and over. I wish that LVB could hear Kempff play. I would be surprised if he didn't approve wholeheartedly with the interpretation.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The best piano music in the world 20 Jun. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It is hard to believe that Beethoven was completely deaf when he wrote what is arguably the best piano music of all time. Kempff is the supreme interpreter of Beethoven's piano sonatas. Even though this music was recorded a long time ago, the sound is quite good. A great pair of CD's at a great price!
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