Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas"

Image Credit: iTunes
I like to have complete sets of music, such as Mozart’s Piano Sonatas and Chopin’s Nocturnes. Since I love Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" (Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor "Quasi una fantasia", Op. 27, No. 2) and "Pathetique" (Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13), I decide to look for this complete set. Jeno Jando’s recording on the Naxos label was my choice. 

The Artist 

Jeno Jando plays all of the pieces, an amazing accomplishment. I can't imagine learning to play all of the sonatas, much less playing them well enough to record. According to Naxos, Professor Jando is one of the most prolific artists in the history of classical music recording. The Hungarian pianist has been a Professor of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary since 1974 and has won many awards. Professor Jando has recorded over 60 albums of a wide variety of classical composers and periods. These include Bach’s “Well Tempered Clavier,” Haydn’s Piano Sonatas (running almost 11 hours!), Franz Liszt, and many of Bartok’s works. The English translation of his first name often appears as Jean or Eugene.

The Composer

Renowned as a definitive composer of the Classical Era, Ludwig Van Beethoven lived from 1770-1827. I am astounded by the emotional range of his music. The thunderous opening of the "Symphony No. 5 in C Minor" probably resonated with 18th century head-bangers. The oh so delicate melody of “Fur Elise” graces music boxes everywhere. The "Moonlight Sonata" is the most soothing music I've ever heard.  The "Pastoral Symphony" (Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68) evokes serene high mountain pastures in my mind, particularly the final movement. There is a scene in the movie “Immortal Beloved” where Beethoven, played by Gary Oldman, puts his ear on the piano to feel the vibrations because he is deaf. My heart just ached thinking about how horrible that must have been for him. 

The Label

I have wanted to add all of Beethoven's piano sonatas to my music collection for some time but found the cost to be very daunting. Even some MP3 sets cost as much as $70.00 USD.
I decided to check recordings from Naxos. I have bought many of their albums in the past because of the wide variety of classical music in their catalogue and quite frankly because of price. The Naxos web site, states that Naxos is the world's leading classical music label. Naxos keeps costs to a minimum by focusing on the music rather than the artist, which eliminates expensive artist promotions.

The "Virtual Box Set -Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas" contains 100 cuts. Every one of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas is included. The variety of moods is astounding. While my favorites are calm, quiet pieces, they are in the minority. Many of the sonatas have a wide range of dynamics that command the listener's attention. This is not music that I play as background music, like Mozart's piano sonatas or Telemann's "Tafelmusik".

I like everything about The "Virtual Box Set - Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas." This recording and any of Professor Jando's recordings would be a great addition to any classical music collection.

About the recording: 
Available for download on iTunes for $7.99
Run time: 10 hours 10 minutes
Released in 2012 on the Naxos label

The talented Jeno Jando playing Beethoven in concert.

The Great Dane Victor Borge and the Muppets performing the "Moonlight Sonata."

"Immortal Beloved" Moonlight Sonata Scene