Magazine article Musical Opinion

Beethoven's Complete Piano Sonatas

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Beethoven's Complete Piano Sonatas

Article excerpt

Beethoven's Complete Piano Sonatas Edited by Artur Schnabel Alfred Publishers 2 Volumes £29.95 each ISBN 0-7390-4214-9 & 0-7390-4215-7

At 13 I became a self taught pianist and among the music available to me was a volume of Beethoven Sonatas. Happily, I knew virtually nothing of markings so stumbled my way through what I could play, initially Opus 14 No 2. Two years later I bought my first 78rpm records, including the Fourth Piano Concerto played by Artur Schnabel, which I still possess and cherish. Schnabel's name meant nothing to me but the Concerto was so wonderful that I started collecting his recordings of the Sonatas which were revelatory. Great though I knew this music to be I began to understand what Beethoven was communicating and soon I had begun restudying those I could play using Schnabel's editions.

Sadly, I never heard Schnabel in concert, mainly because the Second World War kept him from coming to England. In fact, he had left Nazi Germany in 1939 and settled in the USA where he died on 15 August 1951 at the age of 69.

Happily, Schnabel's recordings of Beethoven's concertos and sonatas are available on CDs and now we have the two volumes of the Complete Sonatas in his 1949 Edition, published in Alfred's Historic Edition, with the Editors Preface in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. I am reliably informed that Alfred are now offering the volumes at £29.95 each, which, in view of the excellent binding and presentation, especially the size and clear printing, is a bargain. These volumes are ideal for serious amateurs and students as well as useful for professionals who appreciate Schnabel's personal integrity, intimacy and background with Beethoven's own manuscripts.

This pedigree goes back to Beethoven himself, who had many in-depth discussions with his friend and favoured pupil Carl Czerny, who was to become the teacher of Franz Liszt, with whom he witnessed the development of the piano Beethoven knew into the instrument he and Beethoven had foreseen. …

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