Friday, November 04, 2016


Garrick Ohlsson is giving a recital at Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the press release includes this:
The program opens with Sonata Op. 13, "Pathétique," a piece that was a major early success for Beethoven and established him as a significant composer, not just a pianist. Following are Op. 57, nicknamed "Appassionata," and Op. 53, the "Waldstein," the latter of which is considered the most technically challenging of all the composer's sonatas.
The Waldstein? Really? I thought it was Op. 106, für das Hammerklavier, that most struck terror into the hearts of pianists.


Anonymous said...

You're right, of course. Still, the last movement of the Waldstein has a notorious passage that is not playable on modern pianos, at least by most pianists: pianissimo octave glissandos on the white keys, down two octaves in the right hand alternating with up two octaves in the left (measures 465 to 474). Most players drop a few notes and play them as two-handed scales, and most listeners, except of course for the many who know about this, are none the wiser. Early pianos had much lighter actions, so this passage would have been just barely possible.

Lisa Hirsch said...

And if you're Schnabel, you play like HALF the notes in that passage.

I've got a smattering of Beethoven piano sonatas on fortepiano - some by Anthony Newman, who also recorded the concertos, and the late sonatas by Peter Serkin. Serkin is playing an instrument that....needed more restoration than it got, and the acoustic he's in is dreadful, but his Hammerklavier is astounding.

I need to get Brautigam and maybe the Bilson & friends sets, I think.