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Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas & Concertos / Alfred Brendel [12-CD Set]


Release Date: 01/11/2011 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001511402  
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic OrchestraLondon Philharmonic Choir
Number of Discs: 12 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Alfred Brendel, on of the world's most famous and revered pianists, recently retired from the concert stage. With a career that spanned almost 60 years, Brendel has played a large portion of the piano solo, chamber and concerto repertoire in the world's great musical capitals. On January 5, 2011, Brendel celebrates his 80th birthday.

Decca is proud to reissue, at an exceptional budget price, this box set, re-issues of Brendel's analogue recordings of the Beethoven Sonatas (recorded between 1970 and 1977) along with his first cycle of Beethoven Concertos (recorded with the LPO and Bernard Haitink 1976-1977).

Reviews of some of the recordings in this set:

Sonatas Nos. 27-32
Read more Brendel’s second complete survey of the Beethoven sonatas, recorded for Philips during the early Seventies, redefined pianistic absolutes of technical and spiritual mastery. As these late sonatas confirm, Brendel’s matchless wisdom in this repertoire is still astounding. His legendary 1971 Hammerklavier, now in digitally refurbished sound, is yet more compelling than before. An aura of transcendent benediction and repose surrounds his rapt account of the final Sonata, Op. 111. The closing Arietta draws a final veil of completeness across the entire cycle; for Beethoven, the culmination of three decades of epic discovery. Heroic, consolatory, spiritually enriching, and absolutely essential listening!

– Michael Jameson, BBC Music Magazine

Sonatas Nos. 7, 14 & 25
This is the third of Brendel's new Beethoven series for Philips, with Op. 10 No. 3 occupying the whole of the second side . . . "to my mind one of Beethoven's most exquisite works" as he admits in yet another of his revealing sleeve-notes (that every musicologist might envy). What he criticizes most in his earlier Vox Beethoven cycle are the slow movements. Listening to the great Largo e mesto in this new performance, you cannot mistake the greater personal identification and intensity that ten years' or so experience have brought him. It is profoundly moving. What also comes across more strongly than before is the underlying unity he feels so important a factor in this work, especially in the way the Minuet literally grows out of the darkness and desolation of the slow movement like the gradual dawn of a new day. There is also much more to the unpredictable, questioning finale. Here, it emerges as just as revealing a character study of a temperamental genius as any of the late Bagatelles.

Despite the calm of the first movement of the Moonlight, there are more artfully inflected accompanying triplets than before, and less self-conscious phrasing and pointmaking in the Allegretto. The G major Sonata may be slighter than many of its fellows, but here I particularly enjoyed Brendel's response to the robust, rustic implications of the first movement's alla tedesca, also his total avoidance of sentimentality when "two ladies singing to the lute" anticipate Mendelssohn in the Andante. All the humour of the finale is summed up in the way he plays its last cadence. The tone is as warm as those earlier Vox/Turnabout discs were chilly. A choice record.

– Gramophone [2/1973]

Sonatas Nos. 13 & 17
Another excellent disc from Brendel's complete set of the sonatas—marked by a wonderfully full and luminous range of sound, admirably captured in this recording. As always with him, the sound is at the service of the sense. Rarely are the psychological dramas in Beethoven first movements so richly and completely conveyed: the dialectic between 'Beauty and the Beast' against the background of a Minuet and trio in Op. 54 in F, for example, or between fast and slow music in the opening movement of the D minor, Op. 31 No. 2. The way Brendel characterizes different planes of sound in particular catches the attention. All masterly pianists can do this, but he seems to have developed the technique to give his readings a special depth. One notices it again when the andante of the first section of Op. 27 No. 1 in E flat resumes after the brusque interruption in C major, floating in as if nothing had happened and as if it had been going on all the time. Something has happened, of course, as the further course of the Sonata makes clear.

As Brendel says in his book Musical Thoughts and Afterthoughts (Robson Books, 1976), in Beethoven sonatas "the psychological process establishes the form of the movement, but the form itself is also cast in such a way that one can deduce from it the psychological process". I turned up the quotation alter listening to him. He has no need to explain his playing: and yet the very vividness of it snakes us think about music we thought we knew so well—and to reflect, perhaps, that the world behind the notes is as worthy of examination as the notes themselves.

– Gramophone [7/1979]

Concertos no 1 & 2
In both these two piano concertos (which were written in the reverse order, like Chopin's) we find classical structure informed with a vigour and panache that already signified the arrival of a new musical personality on a Viennese scene hitherto dominated by Haydn and Mozart, and even the first solo entry of the C major Concerto has a quirky vivacity that is wholly Beethoven's own. Alfred Brendel is good at bringing out this sparkle, and though at times I think he drives the music too hard for all its humour to emerge (though the slow movements are eloquent) he should not disappoint admirers of his art who buy his account of these two works, which has good support from Haitink and which has transferred well to CD from his complete set of the late 1970s.

– Gramophone [9/1988]

Concerto no 3
As a fervent and imaginative reading of the C minor Concerto this Brendel version is outstanding, commandingly fine. In comparative terms it arguably offers more sonic thrust than the Kempff which it resembles in its many lively imaginative insights, or the Bishop-Kovacevich. The exuberant and imaginative Annie Fischer version is much cheaper but is less sonorous. The work, as Robert Simpson observes in his exceptionally useful sleeve-note, is both a culmination and an anticipation, a work of great power which boldly manoeuvres a tradition which Beethoven is in the process of transcending without wholly encompassing. Brendel's performance catches all this: catches well the work's vibrance, its physical and imaginative nature, its whims and caprices. I cannot agree with TH, writing in November 1977, who thought the first movement too slow. The tempo seems to me unexceptionable, central, drama and reflection finely accommodated. Haitink, too, is capable of grace and power, though perhaps more intermittently than Brendel himself. Robbed of the necessary freedom to improvize around rhythm and texture, accompanying this Concerto must be a frustrating, even at times thankless, task; and there are some minor lapses of ensemble in what is otherwise an ecstatically beautiful performance of the great E major Largo, as well as moments in the finale's first half when Haitink and his players breathlessly anticipate or momentarily fall behind their irrepressible soloist. But one must not be unduly critical. For the most part, the orchestral contribution is distinguished. There is plenty of G sharp in the Largo's concluding E major chord, the coda of the finale is a tour de force and, almost everywhere, the players have a very complete sense of a performance by Brendel which is, in all respects, an event The recording is very bold, responsive to the soloist's Protean colourings and frequent formidable thrusts. Though it is still possible to make out a strong case for Kempif on DG or Ashkenazy, finely accompanied by Solti on Decca, Brendel's many admirers should not hesitate to acquire this exceptionally fine account of a grand and provoking work.

– Gramophone [7/1979]

Concerto no 4
In November 1977 records of the complete Beethoven piano concertos performed by the above musicians were very favourably received by TH, and each concerto is now being issued separately at a somewhat higher cost per disc. Right from the start you sense that this is going to be an outstanding performance. Both orchestra and pianist project the music with precisely controlled yet sensitive playing which would surely have brought joy to the composer's heart had he heard it. On the whole details are commendably clear, but this is not always the case with very low notes; for instance you cannot pick out the pianist's left-hand triplets in the first movement around bar 107. On the other hand I sometimes suspected that a microphone near the double-basses was being used to excess, for instance right at the end of the first movement. Brendel phrases the slow movement most beautifully, and finds just the right mixture of strength and delicacy in the finale, which is also most beautifully played by the orchestra. The cadenzas are Beethoven's and though they are not among his best I am inclined to think that they fit in better than anyone else's. Recommended.

– Gramophone [7/1979]
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Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Piano no 1 in C major, Op. 15 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795; Vienna, Austria 
2. Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793/1798; Vienna, Austria 
3. Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
4. Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
5. Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
6. Fantasia in C minor, Op. 80 "Choral Fantasy" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
7. Sonata for Piano no 1 in F minor, Op. 2 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793-1795; Vienna, Austria 
8. Sonata for Piano no 2 in A major, Op. 2 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1794-1795; Vienna, Austria 
9. Sonata for Piano no 3 in C major, Op. 2 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1794-1795; Vienna, Austria 
10. Sonata for Piano no 4 in E flat major, Op. 7 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796-1797; Vienna, Austria 
11. Sonata for Piano no 5 in C minor, Op. 10 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795-1797; Vienna, Austria 
12. Sonata for Piano no 6 in F major, Op. 10 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796-1797; Vienna, Austria 
13. Sonata for Piano no 7 in D major, Op. 10 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
14. Sonata for Piano no 8 in C minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
15. Sonata for Piano no 9 in E major, Op. 14 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1798; Vienna, Austria 
16. Sonata for Piano no 10 in G major, Op. 14 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1799; Vienna, Austria 
17. Sonata for Piano no 11 in B flat major, Op. 22 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
18. Sonata for Piano no 12 in A flat major, Op. 26 "Funeral March" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria 
19. Sonata for Piano no 13 in E flat major, Op. 27 no 1 "Quasi una fantasia" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria 
20. Sonata for Piano no 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 no 2 "Moonlight" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801; Vienna, Austria 
21. Sonata for Piano no 15 in D major, Op. 28 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801; Vienna, Austria 
22. Sonata for Piano no 16 in G major, Op. 31 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
23. Sonata for Piano no 17 in D minor, Op. 31 no 2 "Tempest" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
24. Sonata for Piano no 18 in E flat major, Op. 31 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
25. Sonata for Piano no 19 in G minor, Op. 49 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797; Vienna, Austria 
26. Sonata for Piano no 20 in G major, Op. 49 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 
27. Sonata for Piano no 21 in C major, Op. 53 "Waldstein" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803-1804; Vienna, Austria 
28. Sonata for Piano no 22 in F major, Op. 54 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804; Vienna, Austria 
29. Sonata for Piano no 23 in F minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804-1805; Vienna, Austria 
30. Sonata for Piano no 24 in F sharp major, Op. 78 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
31. Sonata for Piano no 25 in G major, Op. 79 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
32. Sonata for Piano no 26 in E flat major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809-1810; Vienna, Austria 
33. Sonata for Piano no 27 in E minor, Op. 90 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1814; Vienna, Austria 
34. Sonata for Piano no 28 in A major, Op. 101 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1816; Vienna, Austria 
35. Sonata for Piano no 29 in B flat major, Op. 106 "Hammerklavier" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1817-1818; Vienna, Austria 
36. Sonata for Piano no 30 in E major, Op. 109 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1820; Vienna, Austria 
37. Sonata for Piano no 31 in A flat major, Op. 110 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1821-1822; Vienna, Austria 
38. Sonata for Piano no 32 in C minor, Op. 111 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1821-1822; Vienna, Austria 
39. Andante for Piano in F major, WoO 57 "Andante Favori" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1803; Vienna, Austria 

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