Artur Schnabel

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas

(CD - EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics #0777763765)

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It really doesn't matter what anyone says. Artur Schnabel's mid-'30s recordings of the Beethoven piano sonatas is beyond all doubt and argument the greatest set of the sonatas ever recorded. Of course, some critics point to Schnabel's lack of a virtuoso technique, which is said to mar his recordings of the "Waldstein," the "Appassionata," and the "Hammerklavier." And of course, everyone points to the flaws of EMI's recordings: hard, dry, and limited, they can't possibly match the sonic splendor of more recent stereo or digital recordings. All of that is beside the point. Schnabel's comprehension of the sonatas is so complete; his insights into the sonatas are so deep; his intellectual, emotional, and spiritual understanding of the sonatas so thorough; and his interpretations are so profound that most of his individual performances have never been equaled and his performances of the entire set have never been equaled. It doesn't matter what anyone says. Schnabel's set of the Beethoven sonatas is one of the greatest achievements in the history of recording. Everyone who loves the sonatas, who loves Beethoven, who loves Classical music, who loves great art and life and love and God, needs to hear them.

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