- Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor ("Tempest"), Op. 31/2
- Piano Sonata No. 18 in E flat major ("Hunt"), Op. 31/3
- Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp major ("A Thérèse"), Op. 78
- Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major ("Hammerklavier"), Op. 106
Perhaps no other composer offers pianists the Herculean challenge of the immensely shifting styles found in the sonatas of Beethoven that spanned virtually his entire lifetime. The four sonatas heard here represent not only Beethoven's three major style periods, but are exceptional examples of the innovations and demands he made of the genre. The "Tempest Sonata," with Beethoven's fleeting reference to the work of Shakespeare, is by far one of the most tumultuous works for the piano up to that time. The key alone of the "Op. 78 Sonata" was surprising; the use of the bright key of F sharp major for an entire composition was almost unheard of at the time. And finally comes the "Op. 106 Sonata," the so-called "Hammerklavier," which Beethoven himself intended to be his grandest piano sonata and would challenge pianists far into the future. Pianist Peter Rosel is indeed up to the challenges that Beethoven has set before him. As to the difficulty of changing technique along with style period, Rosel makes it seem easy. His approach to the instrument is much more appropriately playful in Op. 31/3, and very dark and sensual in the deeply introspective Op. 106. The third movement of Op. 106, which is executed with deceptive simplicity and sentimentality, is the highest achievement on the album. While this album is absolutely suitable as an introduction to these works, or even as a supplement to an existing collection, it is still not likely to replace the likes of Kempff or Richter.