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A Journey - Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas / Sheppard


Release Date: 05/31/2005 
Label:  Roméo Records   Catalog #: 7233/41   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard
Number of Discs: 9 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Between January 2003 and May 2004 at Seattle's Meany Theater, Craig Sheppard played Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas in chronological order over seven recitals. They're now released as a boxed set, dubiously titled "Beethoven: A Journey", with tacky graphics to match. But it's the music rather than packaging that counts. Even allowing for post-production editing, a project of this magnitude demands the highest levels of musicianship, pianism, and sheer concentration. Fortunately, there's much to admire over the course of Sheppard's cycle. He tends to favor dry-point clarity and gaunt sonorities in the manner of Hungerford and Gulda, and at his best his playing recalls the quivering tension you hear in Rudolf Serkin's strongest Read more Beethoven sonata recordings. At the same time Sheppard modifies his generally steady tempos with judiciously timed rhetorical touches and unusual voice leadings that shed fresh light on thrice familiar passages. This particularly holds true concerning the six final sonatas as well as the "Appassionata", Op. 7, Op. 10 No. 3, Op. 22, and Op. 26.

The two Op. 27 sonatas nearly explode with communicative power and inner drama, with a "Moonlight" finale guaranteed to keep listeners on the edge of their seats. Knotty counterpoint also inspires Sheppard to turn up the heat, as Op. 54's last movement plus the taxing Op. 101 and 106 fugues clearly reveal. Fire and elegance easily interact in the "Pathetique", where Sheppard follows Serkin's famous precedent by repeating the first movement's introduction. Curiously, Op. 2 Nos. 1 and 2, the "Pastorale", and the Op. 31 triumvirate is overly clipped, square-toed, and cautious to the point of pedanticism. The Op. 31 No. 3 Scherzo's jaunty woodwind evocations, for example, are about as bubbly as flat soda. And for all the rigor and poise Sheppard brings to the "Waldstein", I miss the propulsion, grandeur, and metric sophistication that distinguishes similarly conceived performances by aforementioned pianists. At times the close microphone placement renders loud passages jangly and airless, to say nothing of the way it calls attention to the pianist's frequent foot stamping and pedal noises. However, the best of what Sheppard has to offer deserves serious attention, and Beethoven fans may well find many of these performances very pleasantly surprising.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Piano no 1 in F minor, Op. 2 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793-1795; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Sonata for Piano no 2 in A major, Op. 2 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1794-1795; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Sonata for Piano no 3 in C major, Op. 2 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1794-1795; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Sonata for Piano no 4 in E flat major, Op. 7 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796-1797; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Sonata for Piano no 5 in C minor, Op. 10 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795-1797; Vienna, Austria 
6.
Sonata for Piano no 6 in F major, Op. 10 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796-1797; Vienna, Austria 
7.
Sonata for Piano no 7 in D major, Op. 10 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Sonata for Piano no 8 in C minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Sonata for Piano no 9 in E major, Op. 14 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1798; Vienna, Austria 
10.
Sonata for Piano no 10 in G major, Op. 14 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1799; Vienna, Austria 
11.
Sonata for Piano no 11 in B flat major, Op. 22 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
12.
Sonata for Piano no 12 in A flat major, Op. 26 "Funeral March" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria 
13.
Sonata for Piano no 13 in E flat major, Op. 27 no 1 "Quasi una fantasia" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria 
14.
Sonata for Piano no 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 no 2 "Moonlight" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801; Vienna, Austria 
15.
Sonata for Piano no 15 in D major, Op. 28 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801; Vienna, Austria 
16.
Sonata for Piano no 16 in G major, Op. 31 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
17.
Sonata for Piano no 17 in D minor, Op. 31 no 2 "Tempest" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
18.
Sonata for Piano no 18 in E flat major, Op. 31 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
19.
Sonata for Piano no 19 in G minor, Op. 49 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797; Vienna, Austria 
20.
Sonata for Piano no 20 in G major, Op. 49 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 
21.
Sonata for Piano no 21 in C major, Op. 53 "Waldstein" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803-1804; Vienna, Austria 
22.
Sonata for Piano no 22 in F major, Op. 54 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804; Vienna, Austria 
23.
Sonata for Piano no 23 in F minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804-1805; Vienna, Austria 
24.
Sonata for Piano no 24 in F sharp major, Op. 78 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
25.
Sonata for Piano no 25 in G major, Op. 79 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
26.
Sonata for Piano no 26 in E flat major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809-1810; Vienna, Austria 
27.
Sonata for Piano no 27 in E minor, Op. 90 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1814; Vienna, Austria 
28.
Sonata for Piano no 28 in A major, Op. 101 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1816; Vienna, Austria 
29.
Sonata for Piano no 29 in B flat major, Op. 106 "Hammerklavier" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1817-1818; Vienna, Austria 
30.
Sonata for Piano no 30 in E major, Op. 109 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1820; Vienna, Austria 
31.
Sonata for Piano no 31 in A flat major, Op. 110 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1821-1822; Vienna, Austria 
32.
Sonata for Piano no 32 in C minor, Op. 111 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Craig Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1821-1822; Vienna, Austria 

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