A Reveiw of the Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas

Rudolf Buchbinder

Though he is perhaps not as well known to British concert-goers as he might be, the Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder, now in his mid-60s, is highly regarded elsewhere in Europe, especially as an interpreter of the 19th-century repertoire. He previously recorded a complete cycle of the Beethoven piano sonatas, between 1977 and 1982, as part of a survey of all of Beethoven’s piano works for Teldec; the new version is taken from concerts that he gave in Copenhagen in 2010 and 2011.

It’s an uneven set, and much of it won’t suit all tastes. Buchbinder is not a pianist who cultivates beauty of tone for its own sake, and the sound is raw and shallow-toned enough for me to have double-checked that he really was playing a modern Steinway and not a period piano. Crescendos are generally excitable and the climaxes are explosive, and while that may fit some of the sonatas, it does not suit all of them. When the emphases in a modest work such as the B flat Sonata Op 22 seem more appropriate for the Appassionata Op 57, the effect really is out of scale, though when he comes to it, Buchbinder’s account of the Appassionata turns out to be one of the more convincing ones.

In fact, if there is too much in the early sonatas that sounds as if it’s taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut, the performances generally get more interesting as they move forward chronologically. There are moments of untidiness and unstable rhythms in almost every work, as well as some rather mannered rubato, but there’s also much to admire in, for instance, the muscularity of the outer movements of Les Adieux, Op 81a, or the way Buchbinder handles the A major Sonata Op 101, one of the most elusive in the entire 32. But paradoxes abound, too: after an account of the Hammerklavier Op 106 that sometimes seems like a free-for-all, no one would expect the performance of the E major Op 109 to have such poise, or the fugue of the A flat major Op 110 to be unfolded so serenely. In the end, though, the unevenness makes it hard to recommend.

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Spotify-like streaming service specializes in Indian music

Western music fans have no shortage of digital music services to choose from, and that abundance is spreading around the world. Apple’s iTunes is now in 119 countries, and others are racing to plant their digital flags everywhere. This week, for example, Spotify opened in Italy, Poland and Portugal, bringing its reach to 23 countries.

But just as interesting, and in the long run perhaps as significant to competition, is the rise of services that serve regional markets intensely. One is Saavn, a Spotify-like streaming service that specializes in Indian music, and has garnered 10.5 million monthly users with advertising-supported free listening. This week it will announce that it has taken another page from Spotify’s book, by offering a premium version at $4 a month that eliminates the ads, lets users listen to songs offline and will eventually add other features like higher quality audio.


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When Playing for a Living

I was looking for sheet music from the Chopin Fantasie Impromptu. I have a local music store that has a big library of sheet music but they don’t have what I am looking for. I needed to find a place where I could get sheet music for whatever it is that I had to be playing. Everyone wants to be a professional musician. Practically every kid I’ve ever met at least wanted to be a singer and a guitar player. I turned out to be a professional piano player. I play music in all kinds of venues for a daily living. I’m one of the ones who does it as a day job. I play five days a week for a salary with an orchestra. Our shows change and I like to keep ahead of the game and be practicing for the upcoming show while I am working on the show that is going on now. I like to get the sheet music we will be using ahead of the other players. The conductor will change some things, but at least I am ready to go.

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Piano Music by Tchaikovsky

The Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed some of the most familiar classical music in many genres, including opera, ballet, orchestral and chamber music. He had an outstanding ability to write music that features memorable tunes and strong emotional content. At a young age, he showed great skill at the piano. Tchaikovsky’s mom died when he was 14 – a very unfortunate trauma for the young composer who had already displayed symptoms of a nervous condition.

When he was a young man, Tchaikovsky was sent to St. Petersburg to learn law, but his gifts and passion for music were greater than family expectations. In 1962, he joined the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he studied composition with Anton Rubinstein. Tchaikovsky made amazing progress, and just five years after, he was given a professorship of harmony at the new Moscow conservatory. Even though he had a nervous breakdown, he persevered to complete his first symphony, and during the course of the ensuing eight years, he composed three additional symphonies, two operas, the ballet Swan Lake (1875) and a few chamber music works.

Tragedy struck again in 1877 when Tchaikovsky, a well-established composer, wedded Antonina Ivanovna Milyukova, who was one of his biggest fans. Although the marriage only lasted a few months, it was upsetting enough that the composer unsuccessfully attempted suicide. Tchaikovsky worked through his distress and personal instability to continue composing brilliant works, such as the Serenade for Strings (1881), the 1812 Overture (1882), The Nutcracker (1890), Sleeping Beauty (1892) and more symphonies. He was also very successful as a conductor, performing tours all over Europe. Tchaikovsky passed away in October 1893, not long after his tragic sixth symphony, Path&eacute tique, was performed. The official cause of death was cholera, but it is rumored that he took poison to avoid a scandal regarding his homosexuality.

Album for the Young

With the goal of enriching children’s musical literature, all of these lovely pieces inwere written during April and May 1878. All pieces in Tchaikovsky’s Album for the Young are very short, except for two less than a minute in performance. Styles were different, and a lot of the works were influenced by Russian, Polish, Italian, German, and French folk music.


Poetic epigraphs for each of the pieces appeared in the Russian edition of The Seasons. These took the form of quotes by Pushkin, Tolstoy and other writers. Tchaikovsky was asked to compose these 12 pieces in a collection called The Seasons by the publisher of a monthly music magazine called “Noveliste”. The composer needed to give an appropriate work for every dozen issues of the magazine. The work that resulted became very popular, and the whole ensemble was published along with the wonderful G major sonata, Op. 37.

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Types of Classical Music

While we are all able to enjoy listening to a piece that we simply like the sound of, many of us fail to realize that classical music comes in different forms.

Overall the oldest form of piano playing is classical piano music, which can be broken down into different types. These types include: concertos, sonatas, trios, quintets, and solos. A concerto is a piece that is made up of an orchestral ensemble in addition to a soloist or even a smaller group at times. A concerto is made up of three contrasting movements, such as fast, slow, fast; though this isn’t always exclusive. Mozart and Chopin both have pieces entitled Piano Concert No. 1 which fit this category.
Sonatas are usually made up of three or four movements.

Sonata Form
Since the first movement is usually always in sonata form, it is usually made for a solo piano. A great example of this is Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Next on the list is a trio, which is the most common type of chamber music. It is usually comprised of a piano, viola, and a cello; although a piano and two other instruments work just as well. In the trio the piano usually plays the dominate parts, with the viola often just playing the melody which the piano repeats. The cello in the trio is sometimes almost non-existent, generally just repeating the base line provided by the piano. Following this is a quintet, which consists of a piano along with four other instruments. The most common quintet consists of a piano with string instruments. The most common combination is usually two violins, a viola, and a cello. Unlike the trio and quartet which were established by composers in the eighteenth century, the piano quintet wasn’t established until the nineteenth. In fact, there were generally no pieces made for this pairing until the mid- nineteenth century when it became more common to use.

Instrumental Solos
Last but not least is the solo. This has a sub-category all its own, consisting of: etudes, preludes, nocturnes, waltz, ballades, and scherzo. Each of these terms is easily explained, and not hard for classical enthusiasts to understand. First and foremost, etudes are the pieces that are designed to help train certain skills on a solo instrument; think of them as practice or study pieces. Preludes are short pieces of music that have no true form, and appear almost as if they have been improvised. Next are nocturnes which sound exactly like their name. They are simply pieces that have been influenced by the night. While a ballade is a dramatic large scale piece with only one movement. Finally come scherzos, which is what the movement is called in a large piece. In reality it isn’t necessary to know or understand exactly what type of classical music you’re listening to in order to enjoy it. Although knowing the terminology behind the music will make it easier to find new music to listen to, and to identify what you do and don’t like about a piece.

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Clair de lune by Debussy

Claude Debussy was a French composer during the Impressionist period of Painting, Music and actually art of all kinds. He was born in 1862 and died ins 1918. During his lifetime he had many popular and famous pieces. One of his earlier works, Suite Bergamasque, contained a popular piece Clair de Lune. This composition shows some of the influence of Wagner who was one of his patrons. Clair de Lune by Debussy has been said to also demonstrate a certain puzzlement. He also enjoyed the patronship of von Meck, a women who also sponsored Pyotr Tchaikovsky. In 1909, he was diagnosed with rectal cancer. He underwent one of the first colostomy in 1916. Unfortunately, this was only marginally successful and he died of his condition in 1918. He had only one child, a daughter by his second wife. She had several of his compositions dedicated to her. Unfortunately, she too died at a very early age during the terrible diphtheria epidemic in 1919.

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Learning from Beethoven

One of the most popular and influential classical music composers was Beethoven, who is still widely appreciated and acknowledged even today, particularly by musicians who work to master his compositions. Learning how to play the piano is primarily a study of notes and a dedication to practice, so all that is required to play a song or write your own composition is to gain a basic understanding of how it all works. Those who have mastered the instrument will tell you the benefits of learning to play a selection of Beethoven’s masterpieces, such as the Fifth Symphony or Moonlight Sonata. While there are a lot of other excellent classical pieces that you could study, many experts believe that Beethoven’s work is important because he did much to influence the way music was played and appreciated throughout his life.

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