A Clockwork Orange sparked a Revolution inside me. I discovered Classical. From there (the ninth symphony) I moved onto Mozart’s G Minor (no. 40), then onto Liszt’s B Minor Sonata, and finally ended up at Bach’s Well Tempered. All the pieces were in place.
I’ve been devouring classical CD’s ever since.
One epic cycle not well known to the wider public is Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Series. 32 pieces in all, and usually spread over 8 CDs. That’s a lot of solo piano! Probably too much for most people. The average work comes in at 20-25 minutes. Some hard grist.
Out of the 32, I’ve picked out 7 of my favs.
op 2/1 – the first sonata, written at age 25. A sturdy piece, all four movements show strong character.
op 13 (the Pathetique) – classic radio stations play this at least once a day.
op 27/2 (the Moonlight) – everyone’s who’s ever been within 2 metres of a piano has tried playing the Moonlight. It’s irresistable. A knockout first 4 bars. The third movement is manic piano, with broken chords aplenty. Beethoven’s signature piece.
op 31/2 (the Tempest) – draws inspiration from Shakespeare’s play. Wild, temperamental, gusty – it well deserves a wider hearing.
op 57 (the Appassionata) – the greatest and grandest. I think it’s the perfect Sonata. All three movements are meaty and at the same time refined, fiery yet satisfying. The first real piece to test the full register of the new steel-framed instruments, a real banger and clanger. Fun to watch.
op 90 – a totally obscure piece. Enigmatic, and restricted, astringent. A little puzzle, a distilled musical thought. In the tantalizing key of E minor.
op 111 – the final farewell, the last of the sonatas. It closes out the cycle with a two movement counterforce.
Well worth a deeper exploration. Thanks Ludwig!