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Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas

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All Music Guide - James Manheim
The marketing of this collection of Beethoven's piano sonatas minus the two small student pieces of Op. 49 may have overshadowed its musical content. The charismatic Korean pianist HJ Lim first gained a following on YouTube, where she posted her work from France in order to keep in touch with her parents back home. Her gutsy decision to plunge into the entire Beethoven cycle has been released digitally by EMI, at a bargain price, and heavily advertised on Facebook. Lim's sheer ambition is displayed in her organization of the set, which is not chronological but instead uses "themes": Heroic Ideals, Eternal Feminine -- Youth, Assertion of an Inflexible Personality, Nature, ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
The marketing of this collection of Beethoven's piano sonatas minus the two small student pieces of Op. 49 may have overshadowed its musical content. The charismatic Korean pianist HJ Lim first gained a following on YouTube, where she posted her work from France in order to keep in touch with her parents back home. Her gutsy decision to plunge into the entire Beethoven cycle has been released digitally by EMI, at a bargain price, and heavily advertised on Facebook. Lim's sheer ambition is displayed in her organization of the set, which is not chronological but instead uses "themes": Heroic Ideals, Eternal Feminine -- Youth, Assertion of an Inflexible Personality, Nature, Extremes in Collision, Resignation and Action, Eternal Feminine -- Maturity, and Destiny. It might be objected that these are not satisfying as categories, and indeed they don't really hold together well, nor emerge convincingly in Lim's playing, which seems to approach each piece is a sort of free-flowing, rhythmically irregular way. Yet Lim defends her programming in a remarkable set of digital notes, making extensive biographical references to Beethoven's own writings and those of his assistant Schindler, among others. This is quite an intellectual feat for one who has made it through the rigors of conservatory training, and in many specific locations Lim's observations are both persuasive and generative of fresh interpretations. To take just one example, the placement of the "Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 Waldstein," in the "Nature" segment is surprising yet revelatory, as Lim turns the slow movement into a series of murky forest whispers and the finale into a blaze of sunny Romantic transcendence. She does a good job of backing up her more outrageous ideas with Beethoven's own words, many of them dealing with his always tempestuous love life, and at the local level, if not in wider thematic thrusts, her interpretations make sense, and she has the technical chops to pull them off. The best word for Lim at this point is "prodigy"; her talent is impressive but needs focus, and she gets extra points for a star quality that is well suited to the way EMI is trying to present this release. That star quality is, moreover, something much needed in mainstream classical music.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/28/2012
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • EAN: 5099946495228
  • Catalog Number: 64952

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–4 Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major ("Hammerklavier"), Op. 106 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (37:20)
  2. 5–8 Piano Sonata No. 11 in B flat major, Op. 22 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (21:27)
  3. 9–11 Piano Sonata No. 26 in E flat major ("Les Adieux"), Op. 81a - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (14:32)
Disc 2
  1. 1–4 Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat major ("Grand Sonata"), Op. 7 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (24:19)
  2. 5–7 Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, Op. 14/1 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (11:58)
  3. 8–10 Piano Sonata No. 10 in G major, Op. 14/2 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (13:54)
  4. 11–14 Piano Sonata No. 13 in E flat major ("Quasi una fantasia"), Op. 27/1 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (13:13)
  5. 15–17 Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor ("Moonlight"), Op. 27/2 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (13:53)
Disc 3
  1. 1–4 Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 2/1 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (15:38)
  2. 5–8 Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 2/2 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (19:39)
  3. 9–12 Piano Sonata No. 3 in C major, Op. 2/3 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (23:33)
Disc 4
  1. 1–4 Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major ("Pastoral"), Op. 28 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (22:08)
  2. 5–7 Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major ("Waldstein"), Op. 53 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (22:53)
  3. 8–9 Piano Sonata No. 22 in F major, Op. 54 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (9:47)
  4. 10–12 Piano Sonata No. 25 in G major ("Cuckoo"), Op. 79 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (7:47)
Disc 5
  1. 1–3 Piano Sonata No. 5 in C minor, Op. 10/1 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (16:00)
  2. 4–6 Piano Sonata No. 6 in F major, Op. 10/2 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (11:40)
  3. 7–10 Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10/3 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (21:58)
Disc 6
  1. 1–3 Piano Sonata No. 16 in G major, Op. 31/1 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (20:13)
  2. 4–6 Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor ("Tempest"), Op. 31/2 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (20:30)
  3. 7–10 Piano Sonata No. 18 in E flat major ("Hunt"), Op. 31/3 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (20:21)
  4. 11–14 Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (18:39)
Disc 7
  1. 1–2 Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp major ("A Thérèse"), Op. 78 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (9:02)
  2. 3–4 Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (11:43)
  3. 5–7 Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (16:34)
  4. 8–10 Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, Op. 110 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (16:31)
Disc 8
  1. 1–3 Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor ("Pathétique"), Op. 13 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (17:07)
  2. 4–7 Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat major ("Funeral March"), Op. 26 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (16:51)
  3. 8–10 Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor ("Appassionata"), Op. 57 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (22:35)
  4. 11–12 Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Andrew Cornall (23:15)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
HJ Lim Primary Artist
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    Imagine playing Beethoven's piano sonatas with the speed of Schn

    Imagine playing Beethoven's piano sonatas with the speed of Schnabel (whom I never cared for since he had nothing else to offer), the right hand clarity of Ashkenazy, the humor of Brendel, and the jazziness of Kovakevic (formerly Bishop). Add a left hand with an unparalleled gift for voicing, counterpoint, and a rich repertoire of launchings from chords into the continuing music varying from extra sostenuto to extra staccato. You now have HJ Lim's rendition of the "complete" (actually 30 of the 32 as #19 and #20 are missing) Beethoven p.s.'s.
    This set is not for those who aren't already familiar with the p.s.'s and the tempos Lim chooses for many of the movements will alienate more than a few aficionados. However, this may simply be due to the fact that recording tempos have generally decreased over the past half century or more. Schnabel correctly insisted that LVB wanted the tempos fast, as Beethoven himself was a notorious speed demon at the keyboard.
    I also believe it's a good thing to challenge one's listening skills. Notice all of Lim's extraordinary (and often unique) musicality in addition to her speed. I guarantee you will feel like you are hearing some of the piano sonatas for the first time! GSL

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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