The power of three
Beethoven, Boris, the key of C


Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Sonatas Nos. 8, 21 and 32

Boris Giltburg, Piano

Ludwig van Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas form an unparalleled canon, remaining one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges for pianists to this day. These three sonatas represent Beethoven’s Early, Middle and Late periods but are united in the key of C – minor, for the dramatic and stormy intensity of mood in the Pathétique, and major for the radiant and poetic Waldstein sonata. In his sonata Op. 111 the cycle is completed with music of utmost dramatic tension and the deepest spirituality.

Listen to an excerpt from Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor

About Boris Giltburg

Boris Giltburg took first prize at the 2013 Queen Elisabeth Competition, having won second prize at the Rubinstein in 2011 and top prize at Santander back in 2002, and subsequently appearing across the globe. Notable débuts have included a South American tour in 2002 (and every season since), with the Israel Philharmonic in 2005, the Indianapolis Symphony in 2007, a tour of China in 2007, and at the BBC Proms in London in 2010. He has appeared with Marin Alsop, Martyn Brabbins, Edo de Waart, Christoph von Dohnányi, Philippe Entremont, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Neeme Järvi, Kirill Karabits, Emmanuel Krivine, Hannu Lintu, Vasily Petrenko, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Tugan Sokhiev and Yan Pascal Tortelier, among others. In 2014 he began a long-term recording plan with Naxos.

Message from the Artist

Beethoven's 32 sonatas form a nearly unparalleled canon, remaining to this day one of the greatest (and most rewarding) challenges a pianist faces, both as individual works, and, on a vastly larger scale, as a cycle. Despite all the difficulties inherent to his piano writing, ever since I began to have some say about repertoire, I wanted to include Beethoven in every recital programme. It was as if I, or my soul, needed that contact with Beethoven, that life-affirming, purifying charge contained in so much of his music.

The selection of sonatas for this CD snapped into place almost of its own accord. These three corresponded to the three semi-official periods of Beethoven’s life and were, moreover, united by their keys: C minor – stormy, dramatic, relentlessly driven, the emblematic Beethoven key; and C major – versatile and malleable in Beethoven’s hands, ranging from mysterious to brilliant to profound/philosophical.

There is tremendous richness in these sonatas. The intense emotions of the Pathétique are as immediate and visceral as anything we might feel today, not at all dimmed over the course of two centuries. So it is with the opening of Waldstein’s finale: a melody of true poetic beauty, earning the sonata its second, much more artistic nickname: "L'Aurora", the dawn, as its gentle caress seemed to evoke the first colouring of the sky at daybreak. And finally Op. 111, where the stark, fiercely passionate first movement is followed by a second movement of such breathtaking complexity and depth, that one stands before it in awe, profoundly grateful for the opportunity to explore its paths: an endless quest, a life’s worth of soul-enriching searching.

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“This new Schumann-recording…shows an artist whose interpretations can even stand the test with luminaries like Vladimir Ashkenazy or Claudio Arrau.”
– Fono Forum