Stephen Kovacevich

Beethoven: The Complete Piano Sonatas; Bagatelles Op. 119, Op. 126

(CD - Warner Classics #9029586922)

Review by

This cycle of the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven by Stephen Kovacevich recorded between 1991 and 2002 is easily as good or better than the best cycles of the past 50 years. Bishop is a superb virtuoso, a seasoned interpreter, a profound thinker, and a mature man and he brings all these qualities to bear on the greatest cycle of piano sonatas ever composed. Kovacevich hears the depths as well as the excitement of the early sonatas and the breadth as well as the brilliance of the middle sonatas and he limns the face of the infinite in the late sonatas. EMI's digital sound is warm, clear, and real. The liner notes by Beethoven scholar Joseph Kerman are outstanding. For all the undoubted greatness of Arrau, Ashkenazy, Backhaus, Brendel, and Kempff's cycles, only Stephen Kovacevich's cycle comes close to the magisterial achievement of Artur Schnabel's cycle. It is impossible to over-recommend this set.

Track Listing - Disc 4

Title/Composer Performer Time
Piano Sonata No. 12 in A-flat, Op. 26
1 01:05
2 01:00
3 00:47
4 00:51
5 00:49
6 01:26
7 02:47
8 05:42
9 03:01
Piano Sonata No. 13 in C minor, Op. 27 No. 1 'Quasi una fantasia'
10 04:56
11 01:46
12 02:35
13 05:15
Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 'Moonlight. Clair de lune. Mondschein'
14 06:32
15 02:04
16 07:10
Piano Sonata No. 15 in D, Op. 28 'Pastoral'
17 09:31
18 06:01
19 02:21
20 04:46

Track Listing - Disc 7

Title/Composer Performer Time
Piano Sonata No. 26 in E-flat, Op. 81a 'Les Adieux'
1 06:34
2 03:30
3 05:37
Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90
4 05:20
5 07:07
Piano Sonata No. 28 in A, Op. 101
6 04:10
7 05:51
8 03:01
9 07:32
Piano Sonata No. 30 in E, Op. 109
10 03:43
11 02:15
12 02:26
13 02:12
14 01:27
15 00:25
16 02:18
17 00:47
18 03:16

Track Listing - Disc 9

Title/Composer Performer Time
Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111
1 09:00
2 17:13
11 Bagatelles, Op. 119
3 02:19
4 00:56
5 01:22
6 01:15
7 01:07
8 01:36
9 00:55
10 01:34
11 00:49
12 00:12
13 01:36
6 Bagatelles, Op. 126
14 02:53
15 02:22
16 02:18
17 03:24
18 02:24
19 03:42
blue highlight denotes track pick