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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding set of Beethoven's great set of 32 by a towering pianist whom we should not take for granted
I am writing this review listening to Ashkenazy's account of the Waldstein sonata. Earlier, I was listening to Radu Lupu's wonderful version and iTunes took me blind to Ashkenazy. Without knowing who the pianist is (my itunes library contains 48 Beethoven sonata recordings, I was struck by the depth and directness of the interpretation. It is not the first time that this...
Published on 8 Nov 2011 by M. Triquest

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10 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars too fast
To treat Beethoven's Sonatas as some kind of a race as this performer consistently does here defeats the purpose. I find many of the tempos taken much, much too fast with little or no time to stop and consider. Over all the feeling that I get from these performances is showy boasting. To me this disqualifies the whole cycle.

Sure, there are moments of...
Published on 25 Jun 2007 by a nice guy who likes reading


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding set of Beethoven's great set of 32 by a towering pianist whom we should not take for granted, 8 Nov 2011
This review is from: Beethoven: Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
I am writing this review listening to Ashkenazy's account of the Waldstein sonata. Earlier, I was listening to Radu Lupu's wonderful version and iTunes took me blind to Ashkenazy. Without knowing who the pianist is (my itunes library contains 48 Beethoven sonata recordings, I was struck by the depth and directness of the interpretation. It is not the first time that this is happening. I know feel that as a set of all 32, Ashkenazy's is the one that gives me most consistent pleasure, but also offers a myriad of illuminating details in every sonata, without ever offering an interpretation that is eccentric or wilful. Over the years, I have loved many other versions of particular sonatas - Richter's Tempest, Arrrau's Op 111, Pollini's Hammerklavier and many others. But as a set of all 32, I would say that Ashkenazy provides the most consistent and inspiring reading.

There is another reason for writing this review. i am surprised by the two other reviews of this set as well as by the way that this great pianist is now sometimes taken for granted by reviewers. In the 60s and 70s when he was (rightly) celebrated as a great genius nobody seemed to raise a critical word about his performances (whether of Rachmaninov, Chopin or Beethoven). Maybe his prolific output and Decca's determination to have him record so much made reviewers take him for granted. But I am sure, music lovers who heard him live (as I did repeatedly in Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Rachmaninov etc.) or in his recordings will always remember his superb sound, the strength of his playing, the imagination and feeling that he brought to his music making. Far fewer wrong notes too than many other famous pianists.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging performances sometimes let down by the recording, 21 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Beethoven: Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
A very fine set of Beethoven Piano Sonatas and one which I treasure. However, prospective buyers should be aware of a point made by March et al in The Penguin Guide: 'the CDs are not always as full and natural as the EMI transfers of the Barenboim cycle'. More should be made of this, and specifically one could mention the whole of Sonatas Nos 19 and 20, as well as the last movement of No.25, where the piano sounds positively strangled - almost as if we are in the next room, or perhaps listening to a fortepiano rather than the piano which Ashkenazy was playing. Perhaps this is a deliberate attempt on the part of the Decca engineers to achieve a more intimate sound in these small-scale works (but why then only the last movement of No.25?). For me, the attempt if it is such, fails. Repeated listening to these particular sonatas does nothing to ameliorate my negative reaction to this sound. If you can put up with these flaws, there is a good deal else here to enjoy; but if you want total perfection (is that available?) - look elsewhere!
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10 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars too fast, 25 Jun 2007
This review is from: Beethoven: Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
To treat Beethoven's Sonatas as some kind of a race as this performer consistently does here defeats the purpose. I find many of the tempos taken much, much too fast with little or no time to stop and consider. Over all the feeling that I get from these performances is showy boasting. To me this disqualifies the whole cycle.

Sure, there are moments of greatness, particularly in the well known sonatas. The recording of the Appasionata is the most exciting I have heard and the Waldstein is absolutely gorgeous. The Tempest Sonata is also absolutely brilliant, particularly the last movement which Ashkenazy somehow manages not to rush. Opus 28 is also performed nicely.

As for the lesser known sonatas - forget it! There is no feeling that the performer understands these works at all. They seem to be treated as Chopin Etudes with very little regard for treating each sonata as a living whole. I sense very little subtlety or heartfelt expression, even if the notes are all played perfectly.

I grew to hate Beethoven listening to this cycle and it has taken me years of therapy to begin to change my mind. Slow down!!!
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