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Penguin Guide, January 2009

BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonatas Nos. 1–3 (Schnabel) (1933–1934) 8.110693
BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonatas Nos. 4–6 and 19–20 (Schnabel) (1932–1935) 8.110694
BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonatas Nos. 7–10 (Schnabel) (1932–1935) 8.110695
BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonatas Nos. 11–13 (Schnabel) (1932–1934) 8.110756
BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonatas Nos. 14–16 (Schnabel) (1933–1937) 8.110759
BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonatas Nos. 17, 18 and 21 (Schnabel) (1932, 1934) 8.110760

Schnabel brought to this great repertoire a rare depth and vision…the concentration, wisdom and insights (particularly of the late sonatas) remain in a class of their own. There is no question as to the superiority of Mark Obert-Thorn’s transfers [in comparison with the previous EMI issues:] they are more present and vivid, and have much greater body. They also have the advantage of being available singly, so that those who want the greatest performances, such as the Waldstein, and the Opp. 110 and 111, can get them without having necessarily to bother with the earlier ones or the very approximate Hammerklavier…the best are beyond price and they have never sounded better. They come closer to Beethoven than has almost any other musician since, and in these excellent transfers remain an indispensable part of any self-respecting collection.

William W. Starr
The State, April 2003

"The sonic restorations on these inexpensive Naxos discs, part of an ongoing set of the complete 32 sonatas, are very good, but it's still the performances that stand the test of time and emerge with distinction."

Alan Rich
LA Weekly, December 2002

"The rich mellowness of Schnabel¹s beloved Bechstein, amazing even back in the days of the scratchy 78s, is amazing once again thanks to the miraculous audio restoration of Mark Obert-Thorn. At times like this, the rightfully maligned, self-destructive side of the record industry suddenly doesn¹t matter...I envy the generations of musicians and music-lovers discovering these treasures for the first time."

Jed Distler

"Artur Schnabel's Beethoven sounds as bold, intelligent, and expressive today as it undoubtedly did when these timeless performances first appeared on 78s. Listen to the surging yet flexible line and the intense brio he brings to the outer movements, or his heartfelt, cello-like shaping of the bass lines in Op. 2 No. 2's slow movement. Yes, there are snatched-at passages and a few wrong notes here and there, but any notion of Schnabel being less than a brilliant technician should be dispelled by sampling his gorgeously adjusted runs and supple wrist work in the C major Sonata's difficult finale.

Schnabel, of course, does not need my endorsement, since critical consensus has taken care of that issue for decades...general collectors [will] be pleased as punch to obtain Schnabel's Beethoven cycle, cleanly and carefully transferred in individual installments at a bargain price."

Leslie Gerber

"These performances explain why Schnabel's recordings are still revered by many music lovers. The pianist, himself a composer, penetrated deeply into Beethoven's music, revealing the structure and the emotions of these magnificent sonatas. Every phrase is pointed, making sense out of Beethoven's complex writing. Schnabel also produced beautiful sound from the piano, a quality still audible.

These new transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn offer the best reproduction these recordings have ever had and a minimum of surface noise. They justify spending Naxos's modest asking price, even if you already have an earlier CD version."

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