Peter Takács

Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas

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An ambition to record the piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven is common among great pianists, but Peter Takács' imposing box set is complete beyond ordinary expectations. Not only did he record all 32 piano sonatas with opus numbers, but he also included the less familiar Sonatina in F major, WoO 50, the Sonata in C major, WoO 51, the Three "Elector" Sonatas, the Sonata in D major for piano four hands (with Janice Weber on the secondo part), and the charming Andante in F major, known as the Andante favori. In addition to the 11 hybrid multichannel SACDs that come in a sturdy album of illustrated cardboard sleeves, there is also a hardcover book of "Notes" that contains thorough information about the sonatas along with many fascinating illustrations, and a comprehensive "Beethoven Timeline" included in a pocket inside the back cover. This might seem like over-packaging, and a bit more than anyone might really need, but when one considers the excellence of Takács performances, which are among the finest ever released, then all of the extras housed in this heavy box seem more like a tribute to the pianist's monumental achievement. There is little to quibble about, except perhaps the minor points of interpretation or technique, which aficianados can always find between performances, but Takács is such an esteemed artist and his readings are so elevated and polished, the discussion should focus instead on degrees of excellence. Takács' playing is clean, his expression subtle, his rhythms supple, his power unrivaled; furthermore, his understanding of Beethoven's methods and expressions is so profound that this set warrants the highest honors. Add to this Cambria's extraordinarily realistic DSD reproduction that captures every nuance of Takács' touch and the full range of the piano's timbres, and this lavish set can be understood to suit its musical subject matter most handsomely. Recommended as one of the finest Beethoven sonata cycles of any year.

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