The so-called "Hammerklavier Sonata" is Beethoven's probably most demanding piano piece, both in terms of technique and musicality. Especially the expansive last movement requires intensive study, especially due to the high speed and the masterly but highly complex fugue. Beethoven was aware of the difficulty of his sonata, saying that "[the pianists] will grit their teeth from it for another 50 years". He was right: It was decades after his death that Franz Liszt performed this sonata in public for the first time. Beethoven tried to exploit the possibilities of the fortepiano to the full, which is why one finds a veritable firework of ideas and musical ideas in every movement: Thematically, however, the interval of the third and the harmonic contrast between the two hardly related keys B flat major and B minor run through the whole piece.
“When one giant crowns the other” (Kurier)
Beethoven’s opus of 32 piano sonatas, known as “the New Testament of piano music”, is a landmark in piano literature. Spanning Beethoven’s entire life, the sonatas reflect his whole development as a human being and a musician, moving from one century into the next, from one epoch in music in to another. With the sonatas “Pathétique”, “Moonshine”, “Waldstein”, “Appassionata”, “Hammerklavier” and the final sonata Op. 111, which was named the final of all sonatas in Thomas Mann’s “Doctor Faustus”, the cycle contains some of the most known piano pieces of all time.
Now, for the first time in its history the complete cycle was performed at the Salzburg Festival. For this challenge the Festival asked no less than the world-renowned and influential Beethoven expert and pianist Rudolf Buchbinder. Buchbinder has spent his life contemplating Beethoven’s inexhaustible works. With more than 45 performances of Beethoven’s complete sonata cycle in concert halls all over the world and his relentless drive to discover new details and facets in the sonatas through meticulous study of the scores, “Buchbinder has set new standards in the interpretation of Beethoven’s works” summarizes the German radio BR. For his late recording of the cycle Buchbinder received an Echo and was celebrated by the critics as well as by the public.
Buchbinder’s performance is “that of a real master, effortless changing between lightning fast, technically challenging moments and tender lyrical passages. Where others can pride themselves in getting through without any accidents, Buchbinder is a poet, precise in every arpeggio touching in every keystroke” (Kurier). “Brilliant in his virtuosity” (Die Presse). “A real natural” (Der Standard).