Ludwig van Beethoven: The Piano Sonatas, Volume III

András Schiff

Featured Artists Recorded

February 2005, Tonhalle Zürich

Original Release Date


  • Sonata No. 19 g minor op. 49/1
    (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • 1Andante04:30
  • 2Rondo. Allegro03:50
  • Sonata No. 20 G major op. 49/2
    (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • 3Allegro, ma non troppo05:05
  • 4Tempo di Menuetto03:34
  • Sonata No. 9 E major op. 14/1
    (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • 5Allegro07:30
  • 6Allegretto03:50
  • 7Rondo. Allegro comodo03:20
  • Sonata No. 10 G major op. 14/2
    (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • 8Allegro07:42
  • 9Andante05:11
  • 10Scherzo. Allegro assai03:54
  • Sonata No. 11 B flat major op. 22
    (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • 11Allegro con brio08:11
  • 12Adagio con molta espressione07:36
  • 13Minuetto03:09
  • 14Ronde. Allegretto06:35
As always, Schiff is a master of detail, often rephrasing bars you thought you knew well, coming up with fine nuances while never losing sight of the work’s overall architecture. Recorded live in Zurich’s Tonhalle, thanks to Schiff’s belief that it’s vital to play in front of an audience, this is a distinguished instalment in an outstanding cycle.
Anthony Holden, The Observer
Although all these works manifest very different moods and characters, Schiff makes efforts to penetrate beneath the surface aspects of the music, focusing on moments of intimacy and introspection. The approach to Op. 14, No. 1 is especially daring. … Taking an unusually expansive approach to the first movement, Schiff invests the musical argument with an astonishing variety of texture and dynamic range… The modest Op. 49 Sonatas are treated with affection and poetic sensibility, whilst Schiff relishes the unbuttoned humour of the middle movement of Op. 14/2. Highlights of the Op. 22 Sonata include an almost vocal right-hand in the Adagio con molto espressione, Schiff exploiting the cantabile tone of his Fabbrini piano to wonderful effect. …
There’s little doubt that this release contains some very special insights.
Erik Levi, BBC Music Magazine
Mit filigranem, hammerklavierartigem Anschlag und beispielhaftem “cantabile” brilliert er in den “einfachen” Sonaten op. 49. Selbst feinste satztechnische Nuancen werden in den Sonaten op. 14 hörbar, während er in der konzertant angelegten Sonate op. 22 enorme Spannungsbögen und fein artikulierte Passagen herausarbeitet. Volume III, ein wahrer Genuss für jeden Beethoven-Kenner.
Oliver Ford, Stereo
Wieder einmal beweist der ungarische Pianist, dass er es auf einzigartige Weise versteht, interpretatorische Brillanz und enzyklopädischen Forschergeist zu verbinden. ... Tatsächlich ist der Entwicklungsgedanke in Schiffs sensiblen Interpretationen unüberhörbar. Wendig und filigran glänzen auch Miniatur-Sonaten wie op. 49. Mit seinem hochdifferenzierten Anschlag ist es eine wahre Freude, den Nuancenreichtum der G-Dur-Sonate op. 14/2 zu entdecken. Die Schlichtheit des Kopfsatzes in op.14/1 fasziniert durch die Farbgebung der einzelnen Stimmen im Quartettsatz. Und so zeigt Schiff trotz übergreifenden Entwicklungsgedanken seine Liebe zum Detail, die Fähigkeit, den Reichtum des Augenblicks zu genießen.
Anja Renczikowski, Piano News
András Schiff, pianista ungherese cinquantenne gentile e delicato, che non prende mai per la collottola l’ascoltatore, che poche sere fa ha concluso alle Serate Musicali di Milano il ciclo delle Sonate di Beethoven acclamato da tutto il pubblico in piedi. Con lui si entra nella logica di ogni composizione, perché il fraseggio è sempre razionale e chiaro ma anche libero e toccante quel tanto che ci entri nella memoria, perché la graduazione delle sonorità, anche in queste splendida registrazione, è precisa e variatissima, perché il legato è affettuoso, lo staccato è il massimo della brillantezza, perché le stesse pause sono d'una eloquenza e d’un respiro inimitabili.
Lorenzo Arroga, Il Giornale
International critics writing on the first two volumes of András Schiff’s Beethoven cycle have praised a particularly “sharp attention to detail” (Jed Distler in Gramophone on volume II) and expressed their high expectations for the edition as a whole, with Le monde de la musique saluting Schiff as one of the “great Beethoven interpreters of our time.” Michael Church’s remark on Volume II of Schiff’s cycle in The Independent applies no less to this third instalment: “These are early works, but he shows them to be fully fledged masterpieces: their contours are sharpened, and their emotional depths plumbed, with each becoming a musical drama.”

Schiff’s concept to approach the sonatas in strict chronological order proves especially successful in this volume which combines the four smaller sonatas opp. 49 and 14 with the brilliant op. 22, all composed between 1796 and 1800. “It’s fascinating for me to reconstruct this creative arc as though I were taking an overview of it for the first time, and assembling it into a large-scale narrative”, says the pianist in the introductory interview with Martin Meyer printed in the CD-booklet.

In an interview for the Swiss magazine Musik und Theater Schiff recently once again laid out his reasons to record the sonatas live in the Zürich Tonhalle: “I’m fully convinced that vivid performances are possible only in front of an audience. I obviously don’t share Glenn Gould’s opinion that concerts are superfluous and that work in the recording studio is so much more important. Being an artist you live for those very moments when music really happens.” Schiff plays every programme in 15 different cities before recording it: “I really feel that my performances get more mature from concert to concert. The repetitions are a very valuable lesson.”

Schiff’s Beethoven cycle on ECM New Series will be continued in spring 2007 with Volume IV including the sonatas opp. 26, 27 and 28.

2024 June 26 Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Germany
2024 June 30 Château du Clos de Vougeot Burgund, France
2024 July 04 Palacio Carlos V Granada, Spain
2024 July 11 Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, Germany
2024 July 16 Pfarrkirche Lockenhaus, Austria
2024 July 23 Église de Verbier station Verbier, Switzerland
2024 July 25 Église de Verbier station Verbier, Switzerland
2024 July 27 Menuhin Festival- Kirche Saanen Gstaad, Switzerland
2025 May 18 Herkulessaal Munich, Germany
2025 May 19 Tonhalle Zurich, Switzerland