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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
27
Beethoven: The Late Piano Sonatas
Format: MP3 Download|Change
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.
14 people found this helpful
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on 23 April 2018
I feel like I'm missing out on something here, as I do not find myself in agreement with the plethora of positive reviews. My reaction is not an instinctive antipathy to Mr Levit's playing (I love his Diabelli variations), however I feel he dispatches the sonatas immaculately but superficially. In his late sonatas Beethoven delves into the depths of the human soul and attempts to relay its inexpressible secrets to the listener through a medium only understandable through feeling. They are works of a passionate man without place in society, but who still holds a love for humanity. Here certain words come all too easily, and secrets remain undiscovered. The works emerge here almost as bland feel-good music, without conflict and, sadly, without heart. To take one example, in the words of Edward Sackville-West the last pages of op. 111 should leave one on the shores of paradise. Here I'm enjoying a sunny summer's day on Blackpool beach. If you want a modern performance turn to Paul Lewis who truly achieves innigkeit in this movement, otherwise all the old favourites (Kempff, Arrau and co) still hold up very well. Jumping back, the Hammerklavier has an arresting first movement and a relatively good scherzo. The adagio should stop you dead though, a bleak ice-capped mountain of loneliness, and here it all flows by like a chilly Nordic stream. Similarly the last movements of op 109 and 110 slide gently through one’s consciousness, without leaving behind a trace of emotion.

Throughout, the quick movements are dispatched with tremendous energy and resolve, but the contemplative movements lack something (experience?). This was a brave first release for a pianist, but for me misses the mark.
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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 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 15 January 2014
Having heard excerpts from this set on the radio I was expecting great things and I was not disappointed. Unlike so many up and coming artists, who often seem as if they must have something to prove, Igor Levit's interpretation is commanding and insightful. It sits happily with the likes of Brendel and Gilels and other titans of the repertoire. Thoroughly recommended (and its a bit of a bargain too).
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on 1 June 2014
Beautifully recorded, great feeling, wonderful interpretations. Do I need to say anything else? I thought not. Buy now and enjoy.
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on 18 May 2016
Fully satisfied
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on 2 January 2014
Quite remarkable first disc, especially since it's the late sonatas, just about the everest of the repertoire. Levit can compare with many of the past masters, most considerably more mature than himself. I eagerly await his next recording......
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on 8 January 2018
Simply wonderful.
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on 19 January 2015
Igor Levit translates Beethoven
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