Beethoven’s Birthday List

Probably because I’ve written countless CD reviews and booklet notes about Beethoven’s music, people often ask me to recommend “the best” performances of a symphony, string quartet, piano sonata, and so on. It’s impossible to do so, because there are so many excellent recordings from which to choose, more than ever before.

However, a few years ago a friend challenged me to put together a playlist with 32 pianists in all 32 Beethoven sonatas, one pianist for each sonata, and no repeating of artists. Only commercial recordings are allowed, but they don’t necessarily have to be in print, or even available on CD. You can even pick a period instrument rendition if so desired.

So here’s just one of many possible and plausible lists. Who would you add or eliminate? What would your own list be like?

In the meantime, happy 244th birthday, Ludwig!

Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 2 No. 1 in F Minor: Zoltan Kocsis (Philips)
Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 2 No. 2 in A Major: Miezcyslaw Horszowski (Nonesuch)
Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 2 No. 3 in C Major: Garrick Ohlsson (Bridge)
Piano Sonata No. 4, Op. 7 in E-flat Major: John O’Conor (Telarc)
Piano Sonata No. 5, Op. 10 No. 1 in C Minor: Stewart Goodyear (Marquis)
Piano Sonata No. 6, Op. 10 No. 2 in F Major: Seymour Lipkin (Newport Classics)
Piano Sonata No. 7, Op. 10 No. 3 in D Major: Vladimir Horowitz (RCA)
Piano Sonata No. 8, Op. 13 in C Minor (“Pathetique”): Idil Biret (IBA, 1986 Finndar recording)
Piano Sonata No. 9, Op. 14 No. 1 in E Major: Awadagin Pratt (EMI)
Piano Sonata No. 10, Op. 14 No. 2 in G Major: Maurizio Pollini (DG)
Piano Sonata No. 11, Op. 22 in B-flat Major: Wilhelm Kempff (DG, 1951 mono version)
Piano Sonata No. 12, Op. 26 in A-flat Major (“Funeral March”): Angela Hewitt (Hyperion)
Piano Sonata No. 13, Op. 27 No. 1 in E-flat Major: Artur Schnabel (EMI)
Piano Sonata No. 14, Op. 27 No. 2 in C-sharp Minor (“Moonlight”): Mischa Dichter (PentaTone)
Piano Sonata No. 15, Op. 28 In D Major (“Pastorale”): Murray Perahia (Sony)
Piano Sonata No. 16, Op. 31 No. 1 in G Major: Richard Goode (Nonesuch)
Piano Sonata No. 17, Op. 31 No. 2 in D Minor: Sona Shaboyan (Guild)
Piano Sonata No. 18, Op. 31 No. 3 in E-flat Major: Alfred Brendel (Vox)
Piano Sonata No. 19, Op. 49 No. 1 in G Minor: Stephen Kovacevich (EMI)
Piano Sonata No. 19, Op. 49 No. 2 in G Major: Peter Takács (Cambria)
Piano Sonata No. 21, Op. 53 in C Major (“Waldstein”): Ronald Brautigam (BIS)
Piano Sonata No. 22, Op. 54 in F Major: Friedrich Gulda (Amadeo, his 1968 remake)
Piano Sonata No. 23, Op. 57 in F Minor (“Appassionata”): Sviatoslav Richter (RCA, 1960 studio version)
Piano Sonata No. 24, Op. 78 in F-sharp Major: Egon Petri (EMI)
Piano Sonata No. 25, Op. 79 in G major: Gerhard Oppitz (Hänssler)
Piano Sonata No. 26, Op. 81a in E-flat Major (“Les Adieux”): Solomon (EMI)
Piano Sonata No. 27, Op. 90 in E Minor: Ivan Moravec (Supraphon)
Piano Sonata No. 28, Op. 101 in A Major: Igor Levit (Sony)
Piano Sonata No. 29, Op. 106 in B-flat Major (“Hammerklavier”): Peter Serkin (Pro-Arte, his 1986 Steinway recording, not his earlier Graf fortepiano recording)
Piano Sonata No. 30, Op. 109 in E Major: Myra Hess (APR)
Piano Sonata No. 31, Op. 110 in A-flat Major: Harris Goldsmith (Brilliant Classics)
Piano Sonata No. 32, Op. 111 in C Minor: Eric Le Sage (Alpha)

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