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4.8 out of 5 stars
25
4.8 out of 5 stars
Beethoven: The Late Piano Sonatas
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Price:£8.79


on 3 February 2014
I can add little to the other reviews, save to confirm that as a collector with all the 'great' recordings (and quite a few odd others), this should be in the collection of anyone who adores the LvB sonatas.

Igor Levit has superb poise, fantastic dynamic control, and evident thoughtfulness in his interpretations. Every time I thought he was going too fast or slow, when I looked at the timings I realised he has Horowitz's ability to defy your senses. Horowitz was ill-matched to Beethoven, but he could balance a mountain on a pinhead, pianistically, and if this is what Levit can achieve now, heaven knows what breadth and depth he will achieve in maturity.

Five stars or more to Igor Levit, but zero stars to whichever dull and ungrateful suit at Sony decided that the CD booklet should comprise a long-winded, grandiose, but by definition speculative essay on Beethoven's psyche during the period of the late sonatas (as if we need another), but not a single word - not one! - about the illustrious young pianist who gave us these superb performances.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 March 2014
The subject heading of the essay in the liner note by Martin Geck of Beethoven's five late keyboard sonatas accompanying the two-disc compilation is: 'Dizzying Heights'. the heading relates to the sublime sonatas but it could equally well apply to the debut rendition of the sonatas by the talented young pianist, Igor Levit. The combination of the sublime sonatas and their graceful rendition had on me the impact of a midsummer's night dream.

In response to a hypothetical question to describe in three words the defining characteristics of the young artist, my unhesitating response would be: 'light in touch'.

Buy the two-disc compilation, experience its spell and treasure it in your collection.
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on 29 November 2013
This is the most remarkable debut album I have heard. In fact it is the most beautiful tone and touch. it is not the thumping sound one gets in other pianists Beethoven ( dare I say Brendel!). I shall buy every CD he produces. Can we hear his Chopin and Schumann, perhaps not Schubert it might be too much. I see that the BBC are partly responsible; a feather in the cap of that maligned institution
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on 9 April 2017
Revelatory!
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on 18 March 2014
For a young pianist to choose the late Beethoven sonatas for his first recording is bold, even foolhardy. Many ultimately great Beethovenians have left their first thoughts on record - Brendel and Barenboim spring to mind - and although they provide some interesting insights, they are uneven, and in some movements or sonatas, unmemorable or unsatisfying.

Igor Levit is different. These are now my most frequently played recordings of these sonatas: I've listened to each disc about 20 times in the first month, and on each listening I notice something new. There's power and courage - some bold, dramatic interpretations - but subtlety, flexibility and beauty of sound, without ever sounding self-regarding or cosmetic.
I think these are two discs I will continue to enjoy for many years to come.

Having collected many historical recordings, and been bored by the competition-smoothed, faultless but characterless young pianists in the 1990s, I've lately been bowled over by a new generation of musicians who play the piano - Igor Levit, Ingrid Fliter, Nikolai Lugansky, Rafal Blechacz and Yevgeny Sudbin strike me as performers with breadth of vision, individuality and consummate technique which put them on a plane with Richter, Gilels, Curzon, Rubinstein, even Schnabel. It's a wonderful time to appreciate piano music.
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on 28 March 2017
Great stuff
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on 11 August 2014
After all the rave reviews everywhere I listened to this album expecting to be blown away. Unfortunately it didn't quite happen, although Igor Levit's playing is always beautiful, with individual ideas. First, the good: The Sonata No. 28 is an unqualified success, one of the best versions in the catalogue. Levit really makes the first and third movements sing, and the march and the finale are played with refreshing clarity, poise and elegance.

Unfortunately, poise and elegance are Levit's downfalls in some cases. I just wished he let himself go a bit more, to strive for the elemental in late Beethoven. For example, he offers a sleek, elegant, and somewhat lightweight and anti-climactic fugue in the mighty 'Hammerklavier'. I was particularly disappointed by that because I felt that Levit really nailed the gigantic slow movement, achieving a rare fusion of profundity and depth on the one hand and songful simplicity on the other.

The same qualities are Levit's drawbacks in No. 30 - after a sensitively voiced opening movement, he doesn't really raise the voltage for the second movement Prestissimo. The ingredients are there: great articulation and sense of rhythm, but you get the feeling that Levit holds back and doesn't unleash the full drama the music is capable of. This is also the case in the last movement variations, whose climax doesn't soar to the heavens as it does with, say Stephen Kovacevich (on Philips) or Claudio Arrau. No. 31 fares better, though again I prefer a more confrontational interpretation of the final fugue.

As for No. 32, here Levit displays the same qualities in the Arietta as he did in the 'Hammerklavier' Adagio: it's sensitively sung and the variations have a wonderful sense of continuity all the way to the climactic trills, which in this case do not disappoint. Again though, it's not a five-star performance (for me) all the way through, since the Introduction to the first movement is not as impressive as it could be. Other pianists play it in a thundering, earth-shattering way, Levit does not.

Other people may prefer this kind of interpretation, but I just wished he went for the jugular more often because it would have made for one of the best late Beethoven recordings in the business. As it is, I found lots of things to enjoy but was left wanting more. I hope Levit returns to these works at some point in his career because I'd be fascinated to hear how he revisits them.
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on 9 April 2014
Levit has the lot - power, control, musicianship - and gives stunning performances of these wonderful works. The first movement of the Hammerklavier is quite fast, and played with a lighter touch than one usually hears, but this is observation, not criticism, In fact, I don't think I could find anything to criticise if I wanted to. I hope I'm around long enough to see how he develops over the next decade or so. If you buy these, you won't regret it.
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on 18 December 2013
No words can describe this set. Buy it and listen to the birth of someone who will become one of the greatest. The recording is one of the best I have ever heard of the piano..
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on 12 March 2014
This recording deserves a health warning. It contains some of the most technically brilliant, stupendously recorded, penetratingly spiritual, rawly emotional, intimately moving, breath-catchingly stirring, heart-stoppingly sublime and shatteringly transcendent piano playing that I've ever heard, of anything, ever, by anyone. Every recording of each of the last five Beethoven sonatas that I've compared this with have shuddered in the face of what Levit presents here - Solomon's intimate Op.101, Pollini's elemental Hammerklavier (wow, how Levit LEAPS into the opening!!), Hess's tender Op.109, Brendel's fusion of the humane and the intellectual in Op.110, even Schnabel's heavenly Op.111 (Levit's trills are surely, purely, delicately angelic).... I have been utterly and wonderfully changed and uplifted by this recording. Please, just listen - as the great Claudio Abbado always said - and be transported.

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere
anstimmen und freudenvollere.
Freude! Freude!
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