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Favorite recording of the Beethoven sonatas?


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I would post this forum... but it's slow as hell. So..

After having listened to many, many different notable pianists tackle the sonatas, including Alfred Brendel, Idil Biret, Richard Goode, and others, I have come to the conclusion that the ultimate interpreter of Beethoven's sonatas, to this day, is John O'Conor. Why?

1. His technique is so impeccable that he makes everything, even the most difficult passages, sound incredibly easy. He'll never make you nervous-he has complete control over every section.

2. The melodic line is ALWAYS incredibly clear and sweet. It's really beautiful how he always manages to make every line sound so perfect..

3. His playing style is always appropriate to the individual piece. The anguished and energetic sonatas (Appassionata, Pathetique, Waldstein, Op. 111, etc) are intensely dramatic, and generally at fast tempos. The others are appropriately lyrical and relaxed ("Hunt", Pastoral, Op. 110, etc).

4. It rarely gets thunderously loud. There's a tendency by many pianists to bang on the piano as hard as they can whenever there's a forte or fortissimo.. context counts, people. Plus, these sonatas were written for the fortepiano, a quieter instrument than the modern piano. O'Conor understands this and maintains an element of restraint throughout the piece, so that when the music really does require fff playing, the effect is extremely dramatic in contrast.

So, if you haven't heard this guy (and most people I know haven't), definitely give him a try. I particularly recommend his performances of the "Appassionata" and the "Waldstein" to start with.

Edited by jesika
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