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Beethoven: The Complete Piano Sonatas

Beethoven / De Groote
Release Date: 05/11/2010 
Label:  Solal   Catalog #: 6   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote
Number of Discs: 10 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 10 Hours 52 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas 1–32 André De Groote (pn) SOLAL 6 (10 CDs: 10:52:15)


Belgian pianist André De Groote recorded this cycle way back in 1998, so I suspect this is a reissue, though its existence is news to me. I’m very pleased to make its acquaintance, as De Groote’s playing is a constant source of pleasure: technical command of a high order, and a refined artistic sensibility always at the service of the score. (He has apparently also recorded the complete piano works of Brahms, which I’m Read more now curious to hear.)


His style is serious, thoughtful, with a complete absence of egotism. Phrasing is supple and breathing at generally unhurried tempos, allowing time for details to really register; interpretations have an internalized, lived-in feeling in their attention to detail and its relation to the whole. Fingerwork is clean, springy; pedaling, light and precise. His sound is unfailingly beautiful: full, round, and weighted—never a hint of shallow banging. The playing is always fully engaged, with great concentration, impressively live-sounding under studio conditions (the set is beautifully recorded).


The early sonatas are consistently very fine: outer movements with fire, flexibility, quick wit, and keen dramatic shaping; slow movements concentrated, with much gravitas at often daringly spacious tempos. Highlights include all three op. 2 sonatas; op. 7 (with a marvelously singing rondo finale); and both op. 14 sonatas, alert, buoyant, crisp. But I’ll single out op. 10/1 in C Minor: an immensely characterful performance in the volatile, surging drama of the first movement, the elevated eloquence of the Adagio, and a finale of simmering tensions and volcanic eruptions.


The middle-period sonatas are also mostly very successful, including a delectably fluent op. 28, full of subtle shadings. The op. 31s are another high point (the “Tempest” deceptively plain at first, but achieving great concentration and atmosphere; in the recitative passages at the start of the first-movement recapitulation, it sounds like he resorts to the third pedal—anachronistic, but a magical effect). The “Appassionata” is quite superb: the first movement lithe, supple, panther-like; the variations attaining real incandescence; and the finale developing a powerful momentum. I have a few reservations: a tendency, sometimes, to agogic hesitations that can become fussy, disruptive of continuity (the Adagio of op. 27/1; or the first movement of the “Moonlight”). Occasionally, his style can be self-effacing to the point of plainness (the variations from op. 26; the first movement of op. 27/1). He is not often eccentric, but in the first movement of the “Waldstein,” his unusual reading of long, accented grace notes (bar 4, etc.) is unconvincing, self-conscious (the remainder of the sonata is very impressive, though, with a wonderful hushed concentration to the slow Introduzione, and a glowingly beautiful finale). The first movement of “Les Adieux” is played with a different character than usual: deliberate, pensive, and highly nuanced (he makes it work), very effectively setting off the fleet, fluent finale.


With the late sonatas, more reservations begin to creep in, especially concerning his choice of rather deliberate tempos on a number of occasions. While this can pay dividends in terms of an unwonted articulative clarity (the March from op. 101, or the prickly development section from the same work’s contrapuntal finale), it can also come at the price of a stubborn shortage not so much of excitement as of the constructive strain that is part and parcel of Beethoven’s instrumental conception in his late works. In particular, the first movement of op. 106, variations from opp. 109 and 111, and fugue from op. 110 come off as a little too comfortable, for all the pianistic and musical felicities on offer. Sometimes the unusual deliberation works well, though, as in the first movement of op. 109, a welcome corrective to the flighty, over-excitable treatment often heard here. Other notable successes are op. 90 (a wonderfully intimate glow to the rondo finale), the first movements of opp. 110 and 111 (the latter magnificently incisive), and a quite formidable “Hammerklavier” finale, lucid, refined, concentrated, superbly shaped.


Overall, reservations are greatly outweighed by the sheer quality of this playing. In comparison to other complete cycles, in the last resort it must be admitted that De Groote is less individual than huge pianistic personalities Brendel (Philips) and Schiff (ECM), or perhaps even the more understated beauties of Goode (Nonesuch) or Paul Lewis (Harmonia Mundi). But while I couldn’t recommend De Groote in preference to any of these, the quiet distinction on offer here—consistent technical excellence, musical beauty and integrity—has been growing on me, making me want to return to these performances (always the real test). So I’m making room for them on my shelves, and I’d like to suggest that serious collectors of this repertoire consider doing likewise.


FANFARE: Boyd Pomeroy
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Piano no 7 in D major, Op. 10 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 25 Minutes 16 Secs. 
2.
Sonata for Piano no 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 no 2 "Moonlight" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 16 Minutes 2 Secs. 
3.
Sonata for Piano no 21 in C major, Op. 53 "Waldstein" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803-1804; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 26 Minutes 30 Secs. 
4.
Sonata for Piano no 2 in A major, Op. 2 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1794-1795; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 23 Minutes 13 Secs. 
5.
Sonata for Piano no 17 in D minor, Op. 31 no 2 "Tempest" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 23 Minutes 31 Secs. 
6.
Sonata for Piano no 25 in G major, Op. 79 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 9 Minutes 10 Secs. 
7.
Sonata for Piano no 1 in F minor, Op. 2 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793-1795; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 16 Minutes 10 Secs. 
8.
Sonata for Piano no 8 in C minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 18 Minutes 31 Secs. 
9.
Sonata for Piano no 11 in B flat major, Op. 22 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 26 Minutes 35 Secs. 
10.
Sonata for Piano no 9 in E major, Op. 14 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1798; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 14 Minutes 44 Secs. 
11.
Sonata for Piano no 13 in E flat major, Op. 27 no 1 "Quasi una fantasia" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 16 Minutes 12 Secs. 
12.
Sonata for Piano no 19 in G minor, Op. 49 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 7 Minutes 26 Secs. 
13.
Sonata for Piano no 23 in F minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804-1805; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 24 Minutes 39 Secs. 
14.
Sonata for Piano no 20 in G major, Op. 49 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 8 Minutes 18 Secs. 
15.
Sonata for Piano no 18 in E flat major, Op. 31 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 23 Minutes 10 Secs. 
16.
Sonata for Piano no 24 in F sharp major, Op. 78 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 10 Minutes 43 Secs. 
17.
Sonata for Piano no 28 in A major, Op. 101 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1816; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 22 Minutes 50 Secs. 
18.
Sonata for Piano no 3 in C major, Op. 2 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1794-1795; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 25 Minutes 54 Secs. 
19.
Sonata for Piano no 5 in C minor, Op. 10 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795-1797; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 19 Minutes 3 Secs. 
20.
Sonata for Piano no 30 in E major, Op. 109 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1820; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 20 Minutes 18 Secs. 
21.
Sonata for Piano no 12 in A flat major, Op. 26 "Funeral March" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 19 Minutes 5 Secs. 
22.
Sonata for Piano no 15 in D major, Op. 28 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 25 Minutes 22 Secs. 
23.
Sonata for Piano no 22 in F major, Op. 54 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 11 Minutes 3 Secs. 
24.
Sonata for Piano no 27 in E minor, Op. 90 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1814; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 12 Minutes 51 Secs. 
25.
Sonata for Piano no 4 in E flat major, Op. 7 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796-1797; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 29 Minutes 46 Secs. 
26.
Sonata for Piano no 10 in G major, Op. 14 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1799; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 15 Minutes 18 Secs. 
27.
Sonata for Piano no 16 in G major, Op. 31 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 23 Minutes 53 Secs. 
28.
Sonata for Piano no 6 in F major, Op. 10 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796-1797; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 12 Minutes 44 Secs. 
29.
Sonata for Piano no 29 in B flat major, Op. 106 "Hammerklavier" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1817-1818; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 33 Minutes 2 Secs. 
30.
Sonata for Piano no 26 in E flat major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809-1810; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 18 Minutes 39 Secs. 
31.
Sonata for Piano no 31 in A flat major, Op. 110 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1821-1822; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 9 Minutes 26 Secs. 
32.
Sonata for Piano no 32 in C minor, Op. 111 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  André De Groote (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1821-1822; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 28 Minutes 50 Secs. 

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