This beloved pianist - possibly the most recorded pianist of the last century - is known for his nearly "non-virtuosic" style, where he plays in a lyric manner, emphasizing the composer over technique.


He also led the acceptance of the performance of J.S. Bach on the piano - once a controversial artistic statement. 


This collection features over 4 hours of glorious solo Bach, played with the touch of one of the great lyric pianists who ever recorded.






Paul Badura-Skoda, piano



Piano sonatas--Beethoven's especially--make up such a large part of today's recital repertory that we forget how long it took for this form to be accepted into public concert life. Franz Liszt acted quite daringly when he programmed the "Hammerklavier" Sonata, and this was a rare experiment. In a word, the keyboard sonata was considered, from the 18th century on, a domestic genre, to be played at home and enjoyed by amateurs. This accounts for composers' attitudes towards it: they simply did not give all their attention and greatest effort to the sonata. Furthermore, publishers asked for easy works, which would sell better than difficult ones. (This is a prime reason why Mozart was not popular in his time!)


In Beethoven's day things were not too much different, so we should not expect to find in his sonatas quite the same features that make his quartets and symphonies the most advanced areas of his musical activity. Which is not to say that the sonatas have no interest or are not entirely characteristic; simply put, a sonata can't possibly serve the same purpose as a symphony.


There are piano sonatas from each of Beethoven's creative periods. The first sixteen or seventeen fall into the Early period. Here the relation to the Classic style of Haydn and Mozart is most apparent. Beethoven takes the form as he found it, making few experiments on the large scale. Surely there are typical Beethoven touches on every page, but these are personal characteristics rather than compositional techniques. For example, the familiar dramatic effects in the "Pathetique" sonata have nothing to do with musical devices that Mozart, or Bach for that matter, did not know; it is Beethoven's particular way of using this or that chord or harmony that makes us say, "that's Beethoven."


The sonatas from No. 18 to No. 27, Op. 90 in E Minor, fall into the Middle period. The most popular ones come from this group: Appassionata, Waldstein, Les Adieux, to name a few with nicknames. Here we see Beethoven expanding the musical form and the technique of piano playing; both technical and interpretive demands are greater than before. There is also the extra-musical, poetic element that comes in, obvious in Sonata No. 26, which has titles for each movement: "Farewell", "Absence", "Return" (this is the famous "Les Adieux" (Farewell) Sonata.


In his last period Beethoven wrote relatively few sonatas, Nos. 28-32. These relate to his quartets of the same period. They are more subjective in emotional feeling and more individual with respect to form and technique. Beethoven is here furthest removed from the Classical sonata. He reverts to Baroque forms, such as the fugue, and restores the variation form to its former position of prominence. In a work such as Sonata No. 32, the musical content is so personal that it becomes, para­doxically, super-personal, a universal statement that transcends all musical periods and national boundaries.


Piano Sonata No. 4 in E-Flat Major, Op. 7 "Grand Sonata"

I. Allegro molto e con brio 07:49
II. Largo con gran espressione 07:30
III. Allegro 04:56
IV. Rondo. Poco Allegretto e grazioso 06:58

Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13 "Pathetique"

I. Grave - Allegro di molto e con brio 08:36
II. Adagio cantabile 05:10
III. Rondo. Allegro 04:38

Piano Sonata No. 9 in E Major, Op. 14, No. 1

I. Allegro 06:24
II. Allegretto 03:27
III. Rondo. Allegro comodo 03:18

Piano Sonata No. 10 in G Major, Op. 14, No. 2

I. Allegro 07:39
II. Andante 04:41
III. Scherzo. Allegro assai 03:11

Piano Sonata No. 12 in A-Flat Major, Op. 26 "Funeral March"

I. Andante con variazioni 07:22
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto 02:49
III. Marcia funebre sulla morte d'un eroe. Maestoso andante 05:37
IV. Allegro 02:56

Piano Sonata No. 13 in E-Flat Major, Op. 27, No. 1 "Quasi una fantasia"

I. Andante 04:50
II. Allegro molto e vivace 02:08
III. Adagio con espressione 02:41
IV. Allegro vivace 05:43

Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2 "Moonlight"

I. Adagio sostenuto 06:03
II. Allegretto - Trio 02:22
III. Presto agitato 06:44

Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28 "Pastoral"

I. Allegro 09:49
II. Andante 06:42
III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace 02:22
IV. Rondo. Allegro ma non troppo 04:45

Piano Sonata No. 17 in D Minor, Op. 31, No. 2 "The Tempest"

I. Largo - Allegro 08:09
II. Adagio 07:28
III. Allegretto 06:24

Piano Sonata No. 18 in E-Flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3 "The Hunt"

I. Allegro 07:43
II. Scherzo. Allegretto vivace 05:05
III. Minuet. Moderato e grazioso - Trio 04:04
IV. Presto con fuoco 04:28

Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53 "Waldstein"

I. Allegro con brio 10:28
II. Introduzione. Adagio molto 03:49
III. Rondo. Allegretto moderato - Prestissimo 09:42

Piano Sonata No. 22 in F Major, Op. 54

I. In tempo d'un menuetto 05:33
II. Allegretto - Più allegro 05:18

Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata"

I. Allegro assai 09:05
II. Andante con moto 06:06
III. Allegro ma non troppo 08:10

Piano Sonata No. 24 in F-Sharp Major, Op. 78 "A Thérèse"

I. Adagio cantabile - Allegro ma non troppo 07:01
II. Allegro vivace 03:08

Piano Sonata No. 25 in G Major, Op. 79 "Cuckoo"

I. Presto alla tedesca 04:14
II. Andante 02:23
III. Vivace 02:02

Piano Sonata No. 26 in E-Flat Major, Op. 81a "Les adieux"

I. Das Lebewohl. Adagio - Allegro 06:32
II. Abwesenheit. Andante espressivo 03:14
III. Das Wiedersehen. Vivacissimamente (im Lebhastesten Zeitmasse) 05:09

Piano Sonata No. 27 in E Minor, Op. 90

I. Mit Lebhaftigkeit und durchaus mit Empfindung und Ausdruck 04:55
II. Nicht zu geschwind und sehr singbar vorgetragen 07:05

Piano Sonata No. 28 in A Major, Op. 101

I. Etwas lebhaft und mit der innigsten Empfindung. Allegretto ma non troppo 03:49
II. Lebhaft. Marschmäßig. Vivace alla marcia 05:40
III. Langsam und sehnsuchtsvoll. Adagio, ma non troppo, con affetto 02:49
V. Geschwind, doch nicht zu sehr, und mit Entschlossenheit. Allegro 07:07

Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-Flat Major, Op. 106 "Hammerklavier"

I. Allegro 10:17
II. Scherzo. Assai vivace 02:26
III. Adagio sostenuto 16:55
IV. Introduzione. Largo 11:10

Piano Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109

I. Vivace ma non troppo, sempre legato - Adagio espressivo 03:19
II. Prestissimo 02:16
III. Gesangvoll, mit innigster Empfindung. Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo 12:12

Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-Flat Major, Op. 110

I. Moderato cantabile molto espressivo 06:10
II. Allegro molto 02:09
III. Adagio ma non troppo - Arioso dolente 03:01
IV. Fuga. Allegro ma non troppo 06:08

Piano Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111

I. Maestoso - Allegro con brio ed appassionato 08:22
II. Arietta. Adagio molto semplice cantabile 16:22








This set was made and released by Musical Heritage Society in the late 1960s, to celebrate the bicentennial of Beethoven's birth. The entire cycle is full of rewarding moments - this collection condenses these moments, if you call 7 hours "condensing". Badura-Skoda is a fine performer in the Viennese tradition, you won't be dazzled as you would be by Pollini, this is a smooth surface version. Never a note wrong, utterly respectful of Beethoven. -- David White