Ludwig van Beethoven: The Piano Sonatas, Volume V

András Schiff

Volume V of András Schiff’s highly-acclaimed Beethoven cycle in chronological order includes four masterworks from the so called “middle” period on two CDs: The three sonatas of opus 31, written in 1801-02 shortly before the Eroica symphony, display varied characters, the first one being humorous and the second more dramatic, whereas the third sonata is tender and lyrical in the two initial, exuberant in the last two movements. The famous “Waldstein” sonata is a virtuosic highlight of Beethoven’s complete oeuvre with most extraordinary sonic inventions which betray an almost symphonic ambition.

Featured Artists Recorded

December 2005, Tonhalle Zürich

Original Release Date


  • CD 1
  • Sonata No. 16 G major op. 31/1
    (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • 1Allegro vivace07:09
  • 2Adagio grazioso10:35
  • 3Rondo. Allegretto07:08
  • Sonata No. 17 d minor op. 31/2 "The Tempest"
    (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • 4Largo - Allegro08:47
  • 5Adagio08:14
  • 6Allegretto07:37
  • Sonata No. 18 E-flat major op. 31/3 "The Hunt"
    (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • 7Allegro08:35
  • 8Scherzo. Allegretto vivace04:56
  • 9Menuetto. Moderato e grazioso04:10
  • 10Presto con fuoco04:25
  • CD 2
  • Sonata No. 21 C major op. 53 "Waldstein"
    (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • 1Allegro con brio10:48
  • 2Introduzione. Adagio molto04:20
  • 3Rondo. Allegretto moderato10:22
  • 4Andante favori F major WoO 57 - Andante grazioso con moto
    (Ludwig van Beethoven)
When András Schiff performed the “Waldstein sonata” in New York’s Avery Fisher Hall in November 2005, Jeremy Eichler, writing in the New York Times, spoke of a “breathtaking reading”: “This music of great depth and surface complexity seemed to unite Mr. Schiff’s strengths as a pianist. Even the most densely layered keyboard textures became a pellucid frame for the work’s tense and swirling energy.”

In the interview with Martin Meyer which is printed in the booklet to the present recording, Schiff himself emphasizes the special character of this famous op. 53: “The ‘Waldstein’ sonata is certainly an overwhelming work that was not only of great significance to the composer, but also occupies a special place in the history of piano music. Its spatial dimensions alone are enormous, and were only exceeded later by those of the ‘Hammerklavier’ sonata. Furthermore, Beethoven takes a giant stride forwards in respect of new-found pianistic sonorities, at the same time creating a huge ‘tone-poem’”. In the recital in the Zurich Tonhalle that was recorded live for this CD Schiff added the original slow movement from the “Waldstein” sonata, the “Andante favori” (which Beethoven later dismissed out of formal considerations), as an encore. “It was like a salute from another world” wrote Peter Hagmann in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung after this concert in December 2005.

Volume V of Schiff’s much acclaimed Beethoven cycle in chronological order, recorded live in Zurich, offers four masterworks dating from the so-called “middle period” i.e. the first years of the 19th century, when, among other groundbreaking compositions, the “Eroica” symphony was written. Like all his Beethoven recitals the programme was played on a Bösendorfer (op. 31) and on a Steinway grand (op. 53).

Op. 31 is the last group of three piano sonatas under one opus number in Beethoven’s oeuvre, once again highlighting the composer’s genius in creating very differently shaped works at the same time. Schiff: “The first sonata, in G major, is an extremely witty work, and perhaps Beethoven’s wittiest sonata altogether. It is also virtuosic and extrovert, and full of surprising inspirations. The second sonata, in d minor, carries the not inappropriate nickname of ‘The Tempest’. It is altogether dark in tone and its effect is highly dramatic, with a ‘literary’ mood throughout. And the third sonata, in E-flat major, is probably the hardest to paraphrase in words: on the one hand it seems tender, entreating and pleading, with a lyrical basic mood strongly in evidence; and on the other hand, in the scherzo and finale it maintains a high-spirited and urgent sense of motion.”

In November 2006 Schiff completed his cycle in major European cities with the final recital including sonatas opp. 109 to 111 while the touring activities with individual Beethoven programmes continue. In the season 2007/08 the pianist will be artist in residence with the Berlin Philharmonic. Please visit

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