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Rob Cowan
Gramophone, October 2010

The 50 greatest Beethoven recordings (2020 update)

Orfeo’s nine-disc set of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas (plus the Eroica and Diabelli Variations, and the Bagatelles Op 126, all from 1957) is no mere duplication of what we already have. Indeed, this 1953-54 Austrian Radio sonata cycle falls almost exactly midway between the constituent parts of the Gulda cycle that Decca issued on LP and subsequently reissued as an 11-disc set in its “Original Masters” series. Oddly enough the first point of contrast to hit home, specifically in the early sonatas, is the enormous superiority of Orfeo’s recordings, which are clearer, better focused and generally far more listenable than their Decca counterparts. As to the performances, I would cite in particular the slow movement of Op 7 which has greater breadth than on the 1957 Decca stereo recording (Gulda’s Amadeo version was swifter even than the Decca), and where the poise and pacing are, to my ears, pretty close to perfect. © 2010 Gramophone Read complete review





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