Beethoven: The Complete Sonatas / Brautigam

Regular price $79.99
Added to Cart! View cart or continue shopping.
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

The 32 Piano Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven are often referred to as the ‘New Testament’ of the keyboard literature, following on the ‘Old Testament’ of J.S. Bach's 48 preludes and fugues in the Well-Tempered Clavier. Composed over a period of almost three decades, from 1795 to 1822, the sonatas constitute a fascinating panorama of an artistic career which underwent numerous changes – not to say upheavals – but nevertheless remained remarkably consistent. Ever since the first recording of the entire cycle, by Artur Schnabel in the 1930s, a number of the world's leading pianists have given us their performances of this monumental collection on disc. One of the latest cycles is that of Ronald Brautigam, released on single discs between 2004 and 2010. Performed on the fortepiano, as part of a series of Beethoven's complete solo keyboard works, Brautigam's recordings have been described as ‘riveting’, ‘compelling’ and ‘revolutionary’. The eight discs with the 32 sonatas are now being released as a boxed set, along with a ninth disc containing the early, unnumbered sonatas. Contributing factors to the ‘refreshing directness’ that reviewers have experienced in these performances are the widely praised recorded sound and the carefully selected instruments, built by Paul McNulty after originals from 1788-1819 by the foremost Viennese makers of fortepianos. For this boxed set, the original SACD format has been retained – along with the possibility of listening to the performances in surround – thus offering the opportunity of sharing the experience of one reviewer: ‘One has almost the impression of being a contemporary of Beethoven’s: one of the first, infinitely startled – not to say shocked – witnesses to this music’ (Süddeutsche Zeitung).



Much of the playing here is sensational. Notice the pronounced rhetorical emphasis yet intensely focused dotted rhythms in the Pathétique’s introduction, or the revelatory continuity from one variation to the next in Op 14 No 2’s uncommonly quick central movement. Those who think that even Brautigam’s sturdy fortepiano cannot approximate an orchestra should check out Op 22’s first movement, where the full-bodied octaves and brilliantly judged ‘Rossini’ crescendo just before the recapitulation make a pulverising impact.

And what about the Moonlight finale’s controlled fury and slashing momentum that remain musical to the core, or how those Op 10 No 1 and 2 finales rock and roll while retaining maximum linear clarity? Few others rightly feel Op 10 No 3’s Minuet as one beat to a bar and effectively spin out the left-hand counterlines. Among the heroic middle-period works, perhaps Brautigam’s Waldstein and Appassionata make a cogent case for period instruments in regard to textural differentiation between registers, shorter pedal resonances, and being able to truly perceive rather than merely infer each pitch within low-lying chords and runs, abetted by Brautigam’s subtle yet expressively powerful tempo modifications and telling accents.

Brautigam’s late sonatas are never less than masterful.

– Gramophone

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: BIS-2000

  • UPC: 7318599920009

  • Label: BIS

  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven

  • Performer: Ronald Brautigam