Beethoven - Barenboim or Brendel?

Beethoven - Barenboim or Brendel?

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Nil desperandum

Seedy piano bar

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03 Feb 18

For a colossus who stands astride the Classically and Romantic eras, though always with a foot firmly planted in the Classical, Beethoven's piano music requires a pianist of extraordinary sensitivity and perception. Brendel, for me had always captured the power, majesty and exquisite beauty of Beethoven. Until I heard Barenboim. Now I am undecided. Barenboim's interpretations are quite unsettlingly powerful. Any thoughts?

Nil desperandum

Seedy piano bar

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03 Feb 18

Originally posted by @pianoman1
For a colossus who stands astride the Classically and Romantic eras, though always with a foot firmly planted in the Classical, Beethoven's piano music requires a pianist of extraordinary sensitivity and perception. Brendel, for me had always captured the power, majesty and exquisite beauty of Beethoven. Until I heard Barenboim. Now I am undecided. Barenboim's interpretations are quite unsettlingly powerful. Any thoughts?
Or do Schnabel and Solomon's recordings still stand the test of time?

T

Joined
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10115
03 Feb 18

Originally posted by @pianoman1
For a colossus who stands astride the Classically and Romantic eras, though always with a foot firmly planted in the Classical, Beethoven's piano music requires a pianist of extraordinary sensitivity and perception. Brendel, for me had always captured the power, majesty and exquisite beauty of Beethoven. Until I heard Barenboim. Now I am undecided. Barenboim's interpretations are quite unsettlingly powerful. Any thoughts?
No thoughts on that, but maybe you can help me with something.

What, if anything, in his piano music approaches the progressiveness of his Grosse Fuge?

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1 edit

Originally posted by @thinkofone
No thoughts on that, but maybe you can help me with something.

What, if anything, in his piano music approaches the progressiveness of his Grosse Fuge?
Ah, the Grosse Fuge! I must admit I do not like the four hand piano transcription of this titanic and sometimes incomprehensible work. You are absolutely right to point out the progressiveness of this masterpiece. I believe Stravinsky rated it an utterly modern work. As a late string quartet it explodes the received framework of what such a work should be. Beethoven was, as you probably know, almost completely deaf at this point, and some critics have unkindly commented that this explains the cacophony. It is an extraordinary composition from a genius who was struggling, but in my view never quite succeeded, to break into the Romantic era.

T

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03 Feb 18

Originally posted by @pianoman1
Ah, the Grosse Fuge! I must admit I do not like the four hand piano transcription of this titanic and sometimes incomprehensible work. You are absolutely right to point out the progressiveness of this masterpiece. I believe Stravinsky rated it an utterly modern work. As a late string quartet it explodes the received framework of what such a work should b ...[text shortened]... genius who was struggling, but in my view never quite succeeded, to break into the Romantic era.
The reason I asked is because I mostly listen to progressive 20th century musics. The Grosse Fuge was a startling and welcome surprise. I was hoping to find something along those lines in his piano music. Thought you might be able to offer some suggestions.

Ah, the Grosse Fuge! I must admit I do not like the four hand piano transcription of this titanic and sometimes incomprehensible work.

Yeah, that just doesn't come off nearly as well as the s4tet.

It is an extraordinary composition from a genius who was struggling, but in my view never quite succeeded, to break into the Romantic era.

Interesting. My take was that it succeeded in breaking BEYOND the Romantic era.

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Originally posted by @thinkofone
The reason I asked is because I mostly listen to progressive 20th century musics. The Grosse Fuge was a startling and welcome surprise. I was hoping to find something along those lines in his piano music. Thought you might be able to offer some suggestions.

[b]Ah, the Grosse Fuge! I must admit I do not like the four hand piano transcription of this ti ...[text shortened]... ntic era.


Interesting. My take was that it succeeded in breaking BEYOND the Romantic era.[/b]
Yes, I stand alone amongst musicologist in considering Beethoven to have one foot raised over the Romantic era, but never quite managing to free himself of the Classical restraints. His last piano sonata No. 32 op. 111 in C minor is similar to the Grosse Fuge, although it was written some 5 years earlier in 1823. There are fugal elements in this, and Beethoven is really exploring the extremes of the piano - very little is written for the mid range. The sudden changes of mood, the dramatic minor sonorities leading to exquisite tinkling trills, the almost Wagnerian tonalities. Yes, he explored a new harmonic palette - one could almost imagine him sliding off the piano stool to give way to Oscar Peterson!
If you have not already heard this late piano sonata, let me guide you gently away from the progressive 20th century to this cornerstone of the early 19th century. Please have a listen. Annie Fischer, Richard Goode, Daniel Barenboim all have excellent accounts.

T

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04 Feb 18

Originally posted by @pianoman1
Yes, I stand alone amongst musicologist in considering Beethoven to have one foot raised over the Romantic era, but never quite managing to free himself of the Classical restraints. His last piano sonata No. 32 op. 111 in C minor is similar to the Grosse Fuge, although it was written some 5 years earlier in 1823. There are fugal elements in this, and Beet ...[text shortened]... lease have a listen. Annie Fischer, Richard Goode, Daniel Barenboim all have excellent accounts.
Appreciate the recommendation.

Was the omission of Brendel simply an oversight? Or was there a reason?

I'll take a few days and listen to what's available on youtube. I'll let you know my impressions.

s
Fast and Curious

slatington, pa, usa

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05 Feb 18
5 edits

Originally posted by @pianoman1
Yes, I stand alone amongst musicologist in considering Beethoven to have one foot raised over the Romantic era, but never quite managing to free himself of the Classical restraints. His last piano sonata No. 32 op. 111 in C minor is similar to the Grosse Fuge, although it was written some 5 years earlier in 1823. There are fugal elements in this, and Beet ...[text shortened]... lease have a listen. Annie Fischer, Richard Goode, Daniel Barenboim all have excellent accounts.
Here is Kissin doing it:



And ole Danny:



And young Danil:



And a wonderful lady, Maria Joao Pires



My personal fav: Maria

s
Fast and Curious

slatington, pa, usa

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1 edit

95 year old violin master, still playing!

Ivri Gitlis on a live Dutch tv show



He played a piece by Maria Theresia von Paradis, blind lady composer who lived from 1759 to 1824.

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Originally posted by @sonhouse
Here is Kissin doing it:

[youtube]M2beoK2wSng[/youtube]

And ole Danny:

[youtube]ccyHT1sFmsg[/youtube]

And young Danil:

[youtube]JcFFxvG8pWg[/youtube]

And a wonderful lady, Maria Joao Pires

[youtube]x8GqdG4X3CA[/youtube]

My personal fav: Maria
Daniil Trifonov is a remarkable phenomenon. When he won the Rubenstein International Competition in Tel Aviv, aged just 20, he gave a mesmerising performançe of the Chopin Études. I had not heard him playing Beethoven before, and he gives a remarkably mature interpretation of the opus 111 here. I once saw Barenboim give a masterclass on the Appassionata to Lang Lang and it was clear that Lang Lang was totally mystified by Beethoven - his oriental training simply had not prepared him for the depth of this music! The more I hear of "Danny" the more I respect his total commitment to the music of Beethoven.

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I'm not a universal fan of Murray Perahia - I don't think he's very good at Bach - but I've heard some of his Beethoven piano sonatas and I thought he wasn't bad at those.

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20 Feb 18

And having just listened to Barenboim massacring the Mondschein... no. Just no. Far too much rubato, far too many tempo variations, no precision, hardly any real drive. Haste, yes. Drive and consistent energy, lacking. I'll listen to some others of his, but this one just turned me off.

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21 Feb 18

Originally posted by @shallow-blue
And having just listened to Barenboim massacring the Mondschein... no. Just no. Far too much rubato, far too many tempo variations, no precision, hardly any real drive. Haste, yes. Drive and consistent energy, lacking. I'll listen to some others of his, but this one just turned me off.
And, having now heard a couple... I like his style for the Pathétique and the Tempest. Not fond of it for the other Quasi una Fantasia, either. Pastoral, not bad. I heard another one, an early one with a number I don't remember and no title... not sure.

So, for me, it varies. Next try, Brendel.

T

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24 Feb 18

Originally posted by @pianoman1
Yes, I stand alone amongst musicologist in considering Beethoven to have one foot raised over the Romantic era, but never quite managing to free himself of the Classical restraints. His last piano sonata No. 32 op. 111 in C minor is similar to the Grosse Fuge, although it was written some 5 years earlier in 1823. There are fugal elements in this, and Beet ...[text shortened]... lease have a listen. Annie Fischer, Richard Goode, Daniel Barenboim all have excellent accounts.
Of those I heard, it was Brendel's restraint that won me over. He seemed to hold the reins in a bit in places where others seemed to go for relatively unadulterated power and dramatics. I suspect that most might go the other way with this.

The piece itself was interesting. I'll probably pick up a disc of Beethoven's late piano sonatas at the library and give it a listen on my stereo.

Your allusion to Oscar Peterson was apt.

One thing that I'll add is that I really liked was the sound of the Fischer recording. It added a certain charm to the piece that I imagine many purists may find intolerable.

Nil desperandum

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Originally posted by @thinkofone
Of those I heard, it was Brendel's restraint that won me over. He seemed to hold the reins in a bit in places where others seemed to go for relatively unadulterated power and dramatics. I suspect that most might go the other way with this.

The piece itself was interesting. I'll probably pick up a disc of Beethoven's late piano sonatas at the library ...[text shortened]... ording. It added a certain charm to the piece that I imagine many purists may find intolerable.
Absolutely. I agree with all of your points. Brendel recognises that, to interpret Beethoven’s extraordinary late piano oeuvres, restraint and a recognition of their Classical roots is necessary, in spite of the Sturm und Drang zeitgeist. I speak from humble experience when I say that it is so difficult to resist the urge to milk the explosive drama of these pieces with exaggerated rubato. My piano skills are sadly lacking!