25 Essential Beethoven Recordings: Late Piano Sonatas

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Mitsuko Uchida made her name in the 1980s with celebrated sets of Mozart's piano sonatas and concertos, followed by Schubert's sonatas. She came to Beethoven's sonatas much later in her career, and got started with the last three sonatas, Op. 109-111.

Known as a thoughtful and probing artist, she shows a strong grasp of these sonatas' intellectual and structural underpinnings. But if you think of Uchida as a bit too fastidious an artist for these wild, volcanic works, you might be surprised by this album. She also imbues the works with poetry: Op. 109 opens with a lovely ebb and flow, and Op. 111 ends in otherworldly magic.

The liner notes for the collection contain her essay about the relationship between the last three sonatas, in which she speculates that they might have been written as one entity, concluding, "but when you perform them in one sweep something extraordinary and mysterious happens to the music. Together they represent a long journey. Ending in silence."

The set was recorded at Snape Maltings, the former brewery that's the main concert venue of England's Aldeburgh Festival.

Piano Sonatas Op. 109, 110 and 111
Mitsuko Uchida
Phillips
Available at Arkivmusic.com