Ludwig van Beethoven: The Piano Sonatas, Volume IV

András Schiff

The fourth instalment of Schiff’s complete Beethoven includes the sonatas opp. 26, 27 and 28 – highly accomplished works of strong individual features that were written in 1800 and 1801. Even in the famous “Moonlight”-sonata the Hungarian’s attention to detail leads to unexpected listening experiences. “Nobody in the hall will have heard this first movement like that before” wrote Peter Hagmann in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung reviewing the recital in Tonhalle Zurich where the sonatas are recorded live for ECM. “Not the kind of over-demonstrative approach which has become common these days lies at the heart of this interpretation but the consequent and courageous scrutiny of the musical text.” The booklet offers an extensive conversation between András Schiff and Martin Meyer on the repertoire and its interpretation.

Featured Artists Recorded

April 2005, Tonhalle Zürich

  • Sonata No. 12 A-flat major op. 26
    (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • 1Andante con Variazioni07:41
  • 2Scherzo. Allegro molto02:42
  • 3Marcia funebre sulla morte d'un Eroe05:05
  • 4Allegro03:15
  • Sonata No. 13 E-flat major op. 27/1
    (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • 5Andante - Allegro - Tempo I05:19
  • 6Allegro molto e vivace02:03
  • 7Adagio con espressione02:36
  • 8Allegro vivace05:53
  • Sonata No. 14 c-sharp minor op. 27/2
    (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • 9Adagio sostenuto04:28
  • 10Allegretto02:25
  • 11Presto agitato07:28
  • Sonata No. 15 D major op. 28
    (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • 12Allegro10:29
  • 13Andante06:58
  • 14Scherzo. Allegro ma non troppo02:13
  • 15Rondo. Allegro ma non troppo05:45
BBC Music Choice
Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, Bestenliste 3/2007
Schiff’s playing is always beautiful, always suffused with a lovely, fluid singing quality. Nothing ever seems hurried, nothing is obscure. If his interpretations of these four early-ish sonatas might here and there feel a touch delicate, that doesn’t compromise their integrity. Beethoven isn’t always a tough, macho composer; where he is, for instance in the dramatic finale of the “Moonlight” Sonata, Schiff meets the challenge head on.
Stephen Pettitt, Sunday Times
Schiffs im Anschlag ebenso variable wie subtile Darstellung und seine analytische Weitsicht, die sich nicht zuletzt in der Gewichtung zwischen Bass-, Mittel- und Diskantstimmen zeigt, bieten ein in sich überzeugendes Beethoven-Bild. … Schiffs Spiel wirkt … intellektuell und detailfreudig. Einen Bausch-und-Bogen-Beethoven darf man bei Schiff nicht erwarten; dafür hört man einige Stellen völlig neuartig.
Christoph Vratz, Fono Forum
Zu bewundern ist … vieles, etwa Schiffs Textgenauigkeit, die im „Mondschein“-Adagio sostenuto zu einer Alla-breve-Lesart führt mit durchgehaltenem rechten Pedal, sodass die Klänge ineinander verschwimmen und die Harmonien sich aneinander reiben. Zudem zeigt er in jedem Moment eine künstlerische (eine geistige) Vitalität, die geradezu zu einem „sprechenden“ Charakteristikum seiner Interpretationen wird – ausgesprochen subtil, beweglich und brillant.
Werner Pfister, Musik & Theater
The first three instalments of András Schiff’s Beethoven cycle in chronological order have met with great critical acclaim. “This will be one of the great Beethoven sonata sets” was the verdict of ‘Fanfare’ while ‘Die Zeit’ saluted an “outstanding Beethoven interpreter”. On volume III released last autumn, Anthony Holden wrote in Britain’s ‘Observer’: “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.”

Volume IV includes four masterworks of strong individual features dating from 1800 and 1801 which in Schiff’s view conclude his “early” period. “Between 1795 and 1801 Beethoven establishes himself as a superb master of the art of characterisation, and is also revelling in experimentation”, he explains in the booklet-interview with Martin Meyer stressing the formal innovations in the sonatas recorded here. “While the A flat Sonata op. 26 for the first time places a variation movement at the start of the work, the two op. 27 Sonatas are specifically described as being ‘quasi una fantasia’. The D-major Sonata op. 28 makes a return to the ‘classical’ four-movement design, but once again we find very surprising solutions, above all in the realm of a differentiation between sonorities.”

Even in the famous “Moonlight” sonata Schiff’s attention to detail leads to unexpected listening experiences. “Nobody in the hall will have heard this first movement like that before” wrote Peter Hagmann in the ‘Neue Zürcher Zeitung’ after the recital in Tonhalle Zurich that was recorded live for ECM. “Not the kind of over-demonstrative approach which has become common these days lies at the heart of this interpretation but the consequent and courageous scrutiny of the musical text.”

In November 2006 Schiff completed his Beethoven cycle in major European cities playing the sonatas opp. 109–111. In the ‘Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’ Julia Spinola writing on the Munich recital observed that the sonatas “sounded like the purest essence of Beethoven’s late style, as if they were extracted from marble.”

For upcoming Beethoven-performances please visit

2023September 29Opera CityTokyo, Japan
2023October 01MUZA HallKawasaki, Japan
2023October 03Arts CenterSeoul, South Korea
2023October 05Arts CenterGyeong-gi, South Korea
2023October 11Dvorák Hall - RudolfinumPrague, Czechia
2023October 12Dvorák Hall - RudolfinumPrague, Czechia
2023October 13Dvorák Hall - RudolfinumPrague, Czechia
2023October 20KursaalEngelberg, Switzerland
2023October 21KursaalEngelberg, Switzerland
2023October 23Wigmore HallLondon, United Kingdom
2023October 25Wigmore HallLondon, United Kingdom
2023October 29GewandhausLeipzig, Germany
2023October 30Alte OperFrankfurt, Germany
2023November 03Montcalm PalaceQuebec QC, Canada
2023November 05Koerner HallToronto ON, Canada
2023November 08WPASWashington DC, United States
2023November 10NEC's Jordan HallBoston MA, United States
2023November 12Symphonie CenterChicago IL, United States
2023November 14Kauffmann CenterKansas City MI, United States
2023November 16Carnegie HallNew York NY, United States
2023November 23tbaBordeaux, France
2023November 28tbaBasel, Switzerland
2023December 04TonhalleZurich, Switzerland
2023December 06tbaLugano, Switzerland
2023December 08tbaGenf, Switzerland
2023December 10CasinoBern, Switzerland
2023December 13Salzburger MarionettentheaterSalzburg, Austria
2023December 15tbaLudwigshafen, Germany
2023December 17Pierre Boulez SaalBerlin, Germany
2023December 21Pierre Boulez SaalBerlin, Germany
2023December 23Pierre Boulez SaalBerlin, Germany
2023December 26Pierre Boulez SaalBerlin, Germany
2023December 28Pierre Boulez SaalBerlin, Germany
2023December 30Pierre Boulez SaalBerlin, Germany
2024January 02Pierre Boulez SaalBerlin, Germany
2024January 06Pierre Boulez SaalBerlin, Germany
2024January 10ElbphilharmonieHamburg, Germany
2024February 01deSingelAntwerp, Belgium
2024February 17KulturpalastDresden, Germany
2024February 20IsarphilharmonieMunich, Germany
2024February 21LiederhalleStuttgart, Germany
2024February 23deSingelAntwerp, Belgium
2024February 25KonzerthausDortmund, Germany
2024March 17IsarphilharmonieMunich, Germany