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Beethoven Piano Sonaten 1 - 32 & Piano Concerti 1 - 5 Box set

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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£23.42 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details Only 9 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Product details

  • Audio CD (11 April 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 12
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Amadeo/Decca
  • ASIN: B000BQV52A
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,958 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

DEC 4768761; DECCA - Inghilterra; Classica Orchestrale per Piano

Customer Reviews

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Format: Audio CD
I cannot comment on the concerto performances, as I have the earlier release of the sonata recordings from Brilliant classics. I imagine the sound is better here, but wanted to reinforce the reviews of others who have found Gulda's Beethoven thrilling and hitting the spot in a way few others can hope to. There are a couple of other traversals of the sonatas by him, and the more recently released cycle from the 1950s on Orfeo is very good too, including the Diabelli variations as well. Its in mono sound though and is much more expensive. This stereo traversal from the late 1960s is really very soixante-huitard: anti-romantic, quite angular in places, rhythmically terrifically exciting as you might expect if you've heard Gulda before, and is a display of the most fantastically controlled virtuosity. Yes, I can imagine some will not like the very fast speeds in some places, and he has not much truck with a view of Beethoven as so 'profound' that lots of effort should show, pauses should be made, slow movements should be drawn out and quasi-religious etc. The finale of the Waldstein ends up going at a ridiculous lick, but elsewhere his approach can be ear-opening. The Appassionata sonata, for example, at first had me scratching my head as the first movement doesn't sound much like anyone else's. But the minute its over I wanted to hear it again right away! The finale is played too fast (objectively in relation to what Beethoven gives as a tempo marking) but I challenge you not to get a bit overexcited when he hits the end of the movement when Beethoven asks for a faster speed - he almost sounds like he's levitating!Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'd heard of Gulda but hadn't listened to him knowingly before. Having bought this I'm in complete agreement with the other reviewers - this is a marvellous box set. Initially I was surprised at the apparent 'simplicity' of Gulda's playing. These are certainly not romantic interpretations and whilst he does strong contrasts he avoids any aggrandising effects. Having listened to half a dozen of the sonatas, I'm liking them more each time. It's almost like reading the score, and I can't think of any pianist for whom the old cliche of 'letting the music speak for itself' is more apt. Speeds are fast, but never clumsy, and you have the impression you're hearing every note. The rhythmic drive of rondos is particularly exciting. There's also all five concertos on this set, and a nice aspect is that the sonatas are all strictly in number order on the cds. I can't imagine a better performance, although I'm sure there are others equally inspired. Highly recommended and currently at a very reasonable price.
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Format: Audio CD
When the sonatas were first released on CD by Brilliant Classics, the reviewer at Gramophone described them as Brilliant. I agree. If you buy only one set buy this one. If you buy two get the John Lill set as well.. These are the Yin and Yang.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars 13 reviews
54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SURPRISINGLY WONDERFUL - 4 1/2 stars! 22 July 2010
By Gengler - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have just listened to this set completely through, so I'm simply going to offer brief initial impressions - but as I titled this review, Gulda's interpreations are surprisingly wonderful.

I had stayed away from Gulda as a "fringe" interpreter (i.e., Yves Nat) an acquired taste best left to those who seemed somewhat fanatical about his musicianship. I was never too concerned about his "crossover" status (Keith Jarrett is another in this select group, a musician who simply went in the reverse direction when he recorded his wonderful Shostakovich) but I was concerned that I'd have another Gould sitting on my shelves. (I love Gould, though not his Beethoven although it is always thought provoking. But I can only live with so much provocation...)

Not to worry. Gulda's interest in jazz is reflected in his rock solid rhythmic foundation to these works. His only similarities to Gould are in regard to his unquestionnable technique (minimal pedaling, extreme clarity) and in the later sonatas when he plays on the faster end of the spectrum. Personally, I appreciate the slower, more profound work of Richter, Serkin, and Arrau in these later sonatas. Still, Gulda offers very competitive interpretations.

His speed, technique, and clarity work well in favor of the earlier sonatas particularly the earliest "Haydn-esque" sonatas. The adagio of the Moonlight is played beautifully, and at a respectful tempo. (Unlike Gould. Gulda's speed does not pervert any of the sonata's slower movements) Needless to say the presto is taken at a furious clip. But listen to the presto of #15 to get an idea of his speed - almost a galloping rhythm. This is pianism of the highest order - whether of not the speed and clarity of texture is your cup of tea is another matter. But it's difficult to resist getting caught up in the rhythmic vortex of Gulda's vision for these masterworks.

Actually, the pianist who most often came to mind while listening to the set was Rudolf Serkin, who did not record a complete cycle. Serkin was of the old school, and Gulda is a "modern" pianist - more rhythmically alive and flexible. Gulda, like Serkin has a certain cool detachment to his tone. (A Beethovian "Birth Of The Cool"?). While this objectivity is appreciated, I did miss the depth and profundity associated with the later sonatas. But man, this musician's fingers could fly! There is an absolute joy in his playing that makes these sonatas come alive with freshness and vitality. Imagine that - from a set about 40 years old!

I completed the set of sonatas with a strong desire to re-listen to them once again. No higher recommendation would be possible.

This box set is an outstanding value, as it includes Gulda's recordings of Beethoven's piano concertos as well, recorded with Horst Stein. These recordings are quite fine too, although obviously a complete concerto set has more competitors. While the playing remains strong, the sudden shifts in tempi and some odd accents caused me to think "Hmmm..." at several moments Gulda and Horst are in complete synch with one another. Orchestral playing is quite good too, making this a set of concertos to sit alongside some of the better known cycles in the repertoire.

The recordings themselves are excellent - state of the art re-mastering of the late 60s Amadeo stereo recordings. This box seems to selling in the $35-$50 range through third party sellers now at amazon. It's a limited release, so it's bound to go up in cost. But at this price, it's hard to pass up.

I will continue to return to Kempff and Serkin for the wisdom of their interpretations. But I am certain that I will be returning again and again to Gulda - both for the sheer enjoyment of his pianism as well as the desire to partake in a voyage of re-discovery of this "New Testament" of piano literature. Four and 1/2 stars. Five stars for the box, for Gulda's traversal of the sonatas, and Four stars for the recordings of the concertos.

I never would have thought that after 40 years I could still be amazed and surprised by these sonatas. Great music, and great value. Grab this set before it goes away.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible playing! 26 April 2011
By James Tucker - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I recently purchased this set of Friedrich Gulda's performances of the Beethoven piano sonatas and concertos and was astonished. I would give it seven or eight stars but Amazon holds one to five. I own Brendel's set (the one from the 1990's, though I have some discs from his 1960's set, too) and have listened to numerous interpretations of various sonatas by many pianists over the years--love Serkin's Apassionata, for instance. Nevertheless, I was not prepared for the playing on these discs. It is common knowledge that Gulda had amazing technique and there is no question that he is at the height of his powers here. Invariably, he takes the sonatas faster than Brendel but the playing does not seem hurried or forced. Indeed, the feel is almost 'organic' in that upon listening one thinks, "yes, that is exactly how that was meant to be played." None of us has ever heard Beethoven perform these works, but he was described by contemporaries as a 'brilliant' player, sometimes sacrificing accuracy for effect. Gulda gets the effects with accuracy. I think Herr Beethoven would have approved. And Gulda never seems near his limit but puts his immense technique at the service of the music. I certainly don't mean to denigrate Brendel. His interpretations are thoughtful and his playing is of a high caliber. Had I never heard the Gulda, I would tell others (actually I have) that Brendel is the best set to buy. I could not say that now. Because Gulda takes the faster movements rather fast, the slow movements seem slower when they are actually played at about the same tempo as Brendel, thus creating a sense of greater expansiveness, less compression. These are performances that are, to my ear, 'right' in a way that leaves Brendel's merely scholarly and 'correct'. Finally, this set also offers the piano concertos. Though none cracks my personal 'best of' list--Kempff for Nos. 1&2, Graffman on RCA for 3, and Serkin's 1960's version on 5--Gulda's stand up well. This is a great set at a great price! Don't hesitate to buy it.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A piece of art,Gulda 1968 sonatas & 1971-73 concertos 14 Jun. 2010
By Dina Nadeem - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I just recieved this magnificent box set today 14/6/2010 and I was stunned by the music,the performance and the sound quality.
This is the 1968 amadeo/decca of the complete sonatas and the 1971-3 concertos.
In my personal opinion Gulda is the best pianist I've ever heard.
I was about to get kempff for his reputation but when I purchased the complete piano and cello Beethoven works of gulda and fournier I was struck by gulda's performance.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow this is great playing 27 May 2011
By Leeber Cohen - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I would like to thank the reviewers of this box. I have Ashkenazy, Kempff-Stereo, Goode, Frank,Brendel 1st Philips, Schnabel, and this box They are all wonderful pianists. As an amateur pianist I have learned and played many of these sonatas. Each artist brings something special to their interpretation. This playing is very exciting,very individual,and never ponderous. Gulda obviously had awesome technique. Give this set a try I don't think you will regret it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Priceless Treasure for $50- beat that 13 Feb. 2012
By A. D. hodgson - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I listened to samples of several pianists playing these pieces and instantly approved of Gulda. I do not know if he is the definitive performer of these works, or if there is one. I agree with another reviewer as to not like Glen Gould on Beethoven though. That man is suited to Bach...I digress. As to other musicians, I will not go into them one by one, but each had some quality that rubbed me wrong instantly. Just a feeling. Or the set of their works was too pricey comparatively. This set is a bargain for 12 CDs and I feel the best deal around (though price just went up- should we all stop praising it?). You may want other sets of the same works if you are an avid collector, but you will not need any others. I have a second edition of a few of the works. These works are uniformly good, but with standouts. That is, there are no bad sonatas but there are several great ones. You get two versions of the glorious "Appasionista", Number 23. The sound quality is superb. The playing is level, emotional, intelligent, beautiful, steady. Any good term you can name. If you find a better collection, then I think the difference would be slight. All you need with Beethoven really is a well trained monkey though, let's be honest. Which is perhaps why I dislike Gould. With Bach there is room to make the thing one's own, but with Beethoven and his themes- the work is done. It is magnificent, colossal, stupendous, awe-inspiring, shocking, perfect. He has put so much thought and movement into the music there is only room to play it. Right on the paper he was composer, conductor, and orchestra. Just follow directions. But that is a layman's interpretation. The highlight of this set you will probably not have heard before: The 4th and 5th concertos on the 12th disc, which is a whopping 76 minutes and 6 movements of grand finale! To career, life: when I listen to it, I feel like I am hearing Beethoven's autobiography: triumph, surprise, beauty, let down, contemplation. I do not believe any human being could create something so grand, so elegant, and almost painfully rich and full and inspired again. Something can be as good, but no better. But these may be new to you as they are long and without standout section; just uniformly steady. With the Moonlight Sonata, you know the first movement, and the only surprise is there has been a 2nd and 3rd all along for hundreds of years. With the 5th Concerto, at the end I am exhausted, I think I could never listen to it again, and that I have to start it again. Added plus, the box takes little shelf space as it contains sleeves for the discs. My only wish is that the pictures on each sleeve showed Beethoven again and his hair getting crazier, but just note how long these reviews all are- there is no way to say a little about this set. If you are undecided, get this one.
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