Eric Heidsieck's Beethoven Cycle on French EMI

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CharmNewton
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Eric Heidsieck's Beethoven Cycle on French EMI

Post by CharmNewton » Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:54 pm

So far, I've enjoyed two discs from Eric Heidsieck's recording of Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas (French EMI 0946 367620 2 9, 8CDs). Here is another French pianist who apparently prefers to remain home. Too bad there isn't a cable channel devoted to French pianists. :)

This is not an artist who is afraid to take chances. His readings of the Ops. 109 and 110 are unique in my experience in terms of rhythmic freedom and spontaniety but also natural sounding, not fussy or pulled around. Some of his tempi are brisk. He plays an extraordinary piano which is not identified (Lance, do you have these and can you shed some light). The bass is especially clear and resonant, not muddy or growling. The richness of Beethoven's harmonic writing is a joy to hear.

Let me add that at the price of $21.99 U.S. its really eight discs for the price of one. Those on a budget wanting a Beethoven cycle or new the music will not go wrong with this. The thought of so much extraordinary music making for so little cost is humbling.

John

Lance
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Post by Lance » Tue Jan 30, 2007 2:32 am

Hi John:

I don't have Beethoven's 32 with Heidsieck as yet, but at the price, it's certainly worth getting, especially based on your findings as presented in your post. I have other recordings by Heidsieck and think he is a fine pianist. He seems to have quite a reputation as being a wonderful and highly competent assisting artist with cellists and other instrumentalists. Your comment about the piano fascinated me. I'll follow up on this as soon as I can acquire a copy.

Since No. 32, Op. 111 is among my most beloved Beethoven sonatas, I would be curious about your comments on Heidsieck's recording vs. those by Solomon, Michelangeli, or Schnabel, which are among my favorites of this work.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
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gperkins151
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Re: Eric Heidsieck's Beethoven Cycle on French EMI

Post by gperkins151 » Tue Jan 30, 2007 7:26 am

CharmNewton wrote:
Let me add that at the price of $21.99 U.S. its really eight discs for the price of one. Those on a budget wanting a Beethoven cycle or new the music will not go wrong with this. The thought of so much extraordinary music making for so little cost is humbling.

John
Where'd you order it from?
George

Hondo
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Post by Hondo » Tue Jan 30, 2007 12:11 pm

CharmNewton wrote:

"Let me add that at the price of $21.99 U.S. its really eight discs for the price of one. Those on a budget wanting a Beethoven cycle or new the music will not go wrong with this. The thought of so much extraordinary music making for so little cost is humbling."

Incredible price for even an average performance! Even better for excellent ones. I currently own the complete box of the Richard Goode set, and find these to be the best performances of the Beethoven 32 since Schnabel, and excellent sound to boot! I also have individual performances of several of the sonatas by Michelangeli and Annie Fischer, and am very fond of those as well.

Gabe

CharmNewton
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Re: Eric Heidsieck's Beethoven Cycle on French EMI

Post by CharmNewton » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:02 pm

gperkins151 wrote:
CharmNewton wrote:
Let me add that at the price of $21.99 U.S. its really eight discs for the price of one. Those on a budget wanting a Beethoven cycle or new the music will not go wrong with this. The thought of so much extraordinary music making for so little cost is humbling.

John
Where'd you order it from?
Brain cramp, as I meant to say Amazon.com. I had to wait about two weeks for it to arrive.

John

CharmNewton
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Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 9:10 pm

Post by CharmNewton » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:14 pm

Lance wrote:Hi John:

I don't have Beethoven's 32 with Heidsieck as yet, but at the price, it's certainly worth getting, especially based on your findings as presented in your post. I have other recordings by Heidsieck and think he is a fine pianist. He seems to have quite a reputation as being a wonderful and highly competent assisting artist with cellists and other instrumentalists. Your comment about the piano fascinated me. I'll follow up on this as soon as I can acquire a copy.

Since No. 32, Op. 111 is among my most beloved Beethoven sonatas, I would be curious about your comments on Heidsieck's recording vs. those by Solomon, Michelangeli, or Schnabel, which are among my favorites of this work.
This sonata is a tough one for me, but Heidsieck plays very poetically, almost intimately is places in the Arietta. I haven't listened to the Solomon in a number of years (I didn't like his Hammerkalvier), so I'll have to revisit it tonight. Heidsieck is a really unique player. He has command of subtle gradations of tone and phrasing, but like Nat can really let his emotions fly.

The recordings date from 1967-73, but what I've heard is beautifully captured. I can't overstate the beauty of the piano sound. Not only is the bass clear and resonant but the treble end is sweet. It doesn't have that sharp cut-off indistinct sound I sometimes hear.

I believe if all we had of Beethoven was his piano sonatas and string quartets, it would present an awesome picture of him. That we have so much other great music from him is just gravy.

John

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:30 pm

Hondo wrote:CharmNewton wrote:

"Let me add that at the price of $21.99 U.S. its really eight discs for the price of one. Those on a budget wanting a Beethoven cycle or new the music will not go wrong with this. The thought of so much extraordinary music making for so little cost is humbling."

Incredible price for even an average performance! Even better for excellent ones. I currently own the complete box of the Richard Goode set, and find these to be the best performances of the Beethoven 32 since Schnabel, and excellent sound to boot! I also have individual performances of several of the sonatas by Michelangeli and Annie Fischer, and am very fond of those as well.

Gabe
Goode reminds me of Schnabel as does Claude Frank, although Schnabel at times can get really excited. I find both project thoughtfulness and shape in their phrasing. Goode also projects a granitic power to his playing.

The Beethoven sonatas are such great works that one should have limitless editions of them.

John

CharmNewton
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Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 9:10 pm

Post by CharmNewton » Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:45 pm

CharmNewton wrote:
Lance wrote:Hi John:

I don't have Beethoven's 32 with Heidsieck as yet, but at the price, it's certainly worth getting, especially based on your findings as presented in your post. I have other recordings by Heidsieck and think he is a fine pianist. He seems to have quite a reputation as being a wonderful and highly competent assisting artist with cellists and other instrumentalists. Your comment about the piano fascinated me. I'll follow up on this as soon as I can acquire a copy.

Since No. 32, Op. 111 is among my most beloved Beethoven sonatas, I would be curious about your comments on Heidsieck's recording vs. those by Solomon, Michelangeli, or Schnabel, which are among my favorites of this work.
This sonata is a tough one for me, but Heidsieck plays very poetically, almost intimately is places in the Arietta. I haven't listened to the Solomon in a number of years (I didn't like his Hammerkalvier), so I'll have to revisit it tonight. Heidsieck is a really unique player. He has command of subtle gradations of tone and phrasing, but like Nat can really let his emotions fly.

The recordings date from 1967-73, but what I've heard is beautifully captured. I can't overstate the beauty of the piano sound. Not only is the bass clear and resonant but the treble end is sweet. It doesn't have that sharp cut-off indistinct sound I sometimes hear.

I believe if all we had of Beethoven was his piano sonatas and string quartets, it would present an awesome picture of him. That we have so much other great music from him is just gravy.

John
Just to follow-up, I did listen to Solomon's 1951 recording (I believe this is his second recording--there is also one that appeared on 78s and transferred to LP as RCA LM-1222, but both are only a couple of years apart) and confess that I didn't enjoy it. The sound was a factor, as it was pretty cramped and dry (it should be better than it sounds, so it could be the mastering). There are also places in the opening movement where he loses command a bit when he becomes excited and one hand moves a bit ahead of the other. This recording is part of a 2-CD set of the late sonatas.

John

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Sun Feb 11, 2007 1:50 pm

I'm now about 70% of the way through Heidsieck's cycle (haven't heard the Appassionata or Hammerklavier yet), and wanted to share some further impressions.

Heidsieck has a strong idea of how he wants to play these sonatas. Every one so far has focus and concentration on a level you associate with several of the greatest pianists (Richter, Argerich, Zimerman and Pollini come to mind). Phrasing can be individual but isn't mannered. For example, the opening chords of the Sonata No. 8, Pathetique, are played dramatically, releasing sharply (but not staccato), while the bass continues to resonate (this may be a pedaling effect). I can't recall ever hearing these passages played this way before. His technique is world-class, and only rarely does a phrase sound rushed or not perfectly articulated--often the clarity of the articulation is amazing. And the tone of his instrument remains beautiful.

I also see that Amazon.com's price has gone up a bit since I ordered this set in December. There are actually two editions of this set--mine is the more recent of the two, but is not a re-mastering given the dates on the box, nor is it a slim-line box as I had hoped. Still it is a bargain as for me this set ranks with the greatest ever recorded.

John

Hondo
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Post by Hondo » Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:10 pm

CharmNewton wrote:

"The Beethoven sonatas are such great works that one should have limitless editions of them."

If I could figure out how to get a share of Anna Nicole Smith's estate, I would love to get at least two or three more editions that are currently on my "wish list!"

Gabe

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Sun Feb 11, 2007 8:06 pm

Hondo wrote:CharmNewton wrote:

"The Beethoven sonatas are such great works that one should have limitless editions of them."

If I could figure out how to get a share of Anna Nicole Smith's estate, I would love to get at least two or three more editions that are currently on my "wish list!"

Gabe
I hear you. :) I always try to find bargains, and I'll buy anyone's cycle if it's cheap enough and have acquired many sets over the years. One I'm sorry I haven't bought (yet) is Rudolf Buchbinder's on Teldec. In my view, he's an underrated artist and has command over the instrument and his interpretations. Heidsieck's is cheaper than dinner for two and is well worth the missed calories.

John

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