Beethoven's collection of works for solo piano—and especially the 32 piano sonatas—form one of the most compelling and important bodies of work in the instrument’s history. Beethoven was the first composer to show how much power and variety of expression could be drawn from a single instrument, and his writing provides technical and musical challenges that occupy pianists for entire careers.
In 2011, Oberlin Conservatory Professor of Piano Peter Takács became the first pianist to release the complete Beethoven sonatas—all 32 numbered sonatas as well the early, unnumbered piano sonatas, and the only sonata that Beethoven wrote for four hands—in a single volume. It was also the first to employ hybrid SACD multichannel recording technology.
The 11-disc set was met with widespread acclaim and sold out its initial pressing. “The performances illuminate Beethoven’s unpredictable and breathtaking journey from wizardly Classicist to transcendent risk-taker,” The Plain Dealer wrote at the time of the box's release, calling it “a supreme achievement for Takács and a gift to listeners who value artistic profundity.”
On July 15, Takács’ recording of The Complete Beethoven Sonatas will be rereleased on Cambria Master Recordings, accompanied by new packaging that includes the Takács essay “The Mind of Beethoven,” which describes recurring ideas in the sonatas, from the youthful Op. 2, published in 1795, to the transcendent maturity of the final one, Op. 111.
The reissue was originally slated for release in 2020, the 250th anniversary year of Beethoven’s birth. That plan—like countless other Beethoven celebrations worldwide—was placed on hold in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the well-known 32 sonatas, Takács' set includes Beethoven’s three early “Elector” sonatas, numerous shorter works, and the charming “Andante favori,” originally written as the second movement of the “Waldstein” sonata. Also featured is the early sonata for four hands, Op. 6, performed here by Takács and longtime friend and collaborator Janice Weber.
“I have lived with these magnificent works, as performer and teacher, for many years,” Takács said at the time of the collection’s initial release. “I find in them a record of a great composer's development from his youth as a brilliant virtuoso to the peaks of musical maturity. One recurrent aspect of these sonatas is their strikingly modern relevance as universal statements about the human condition—about struggle and suffering, healing and transcendence. In them one gleans a mind intent on surprising and delighting the listener, pushing the envelope of accepted rules, and being inspired by nature both in its pastoral serenity and its turbulence.”
Learn more about the recording and the career of Takács at www.petertakacspianist.com.
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