The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Would you like to buy Beethoven for a Buck? Try the complete piano sonatas by HJ Lim and the compete symphonies by Daniel Barenboim. | September 14, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

Do you like Beethoven (below)?

Do you like the 9 symphonies? The Ear does.

Do you like the 32 piano sonatas? The Ear likes many of them, although I prefer all five of the piano concertos to most of the symphonies and most of the sonatas.

But a deal’s a deal.

Would you like to buy Beethoven for a Buck?

Try the digital download of the complete 32 piano sonatas by HJ Lim and the compete 9 symphonies by Daniel Barenboim.

Barenboim (below), the child prodigy pianist and former artistic director and conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is a well-known name.

Pianist HJ Lim (below), however, is a new name and has chosen an ambitious way to become known to the public.

She has recorded and released on EMI all 32 of Beethoven’s sonatas. It is a monumental feat that was rare once, but is becoming more and more common.

Here is a link to an excellent story about the new Beethoven releases that appeared on NPR’s “Deceptive Cadence” blog. By chance, it seems perfectly timed for the just announced new generation of Apple’s iPods and iPhone as well as the update on iTunes that is coming in October.

Be sure to read the reader comments at the bottom of the blog posting.


  1. […] Classical music: Would you like to buy Beethoven for a Buck? Try the complete piano sonatas by HJ Li… […]

    Pingback by great compositions/performances: Beethoven, Sonata para piano Nº 15 en Re mayor Opus 28 Pastoral. Daniel Barenboim, piano | euzicasa — June 22, 2014 @ 7:17 am

  2. Don’t overlook Claude Frank’s beautiful recordings of the sonatas. LC

    Comment by Linda Clauder — September 14, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

  3. Mr. Brendel plays like a machine. He knows music so well, and plays his Liszt so differently than Beethoven. I cannot stand his utterly constant touch. Horowitz played very little Beethoven, but at least the music ebbed and flowed, up and down in volume and attack.
    As to digi-music, it appears that these two featured items are 10 bucks each, for the whole set at any rate. I would indeed pay this,and probably will, for the piano music.
    it will be on my computer, whereupon I can burn my own .wav files or mp3’s if need be, onto CD, and play them in my car or someplace other than my computer, which I use for work and not play. I don’t put music on a phone or mp3 player. I like hard copy.
    Just like opera, if young people do not see themselves making this music, they will not want to dedicate their lives to it. I think the young lady’s effort, however unformed, ( and if she plays them all, she is unformed at a higher level than this 57-yr old!) is worthy, if only to show young people that they can do what others have done, and they don’t have to wait 25 or 30 years to do so.
    Pianists have always started young, as prodigies, well-prepared for music-making. To the extent that Life changes change one’s Music, well, we all have to wait for that, and none of us knows what that will make of us, so, record’em NOW!

    Comment by Michael BB — September 14, 2012 @ 10:07 am

    • HI Michael,
      You make many good points, especially about younger artist recording big works that we associate with maturity.
      Artur Schnabel was the first to record all 32 Beethoven sonatas. Now the feat is not so rare.
      But I have to disagree with you about Brendel.
      I find much of his playing — especially in his preferred repertoire of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert — adventurous and convincing, He uses improvisation and variations well, and his tone can be enthralling.
      But differences in taste just so subjective.
      For the Beethoven sonatas, I also like Richard Goode, Stephen Kovacevich, Paul Lewis and the set being recorded over the next decade by Jonathan Biss.
      Each has its points.
      As always, thanks for reading and replying.

      Comment by welltemperedear — September 14, 2012 @ 11:13 am

      • Hi Jake, MBB here. Biss and Kovacevich, you bet…I had been keeping the latest
        complete Brendel Beethoven set in the car, and pulling out whatever disc whenever. All of the sudden I found myself thinking, ” I do not like this playing…” I hadda figger out WHY. It’s because AB keeps the dynamic and the tone so even for so long that it sounds like a sequencer. I had never noticed it before. I do not hear it in his Liszt playing. I have a Mozart disc of his I like, I guess. I’ll hafta listen to it again. I know I am the weird one when it comes to AB’s music. But, listen, and see if you hear what I am hearing, a kind of stifling uniformity. Keep on bloggin’ Classical! MBB

        Comment by Michael BB — September 14, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

  4. Over the years I have come to love Beethoven’s piano sonatas; they, more than his other works, show him working out his ideas. For recordings, I very much like Friedrich Gulda’s cycle and Alfred Brendel’s. I hope we are never reduced to only iTunes-quality (an oxymoron) access to great works of music — all the sonic richness is stripped out. As for Ms. Lim’s cycle, I think it was Schnabel who said that a man does not get a face until he is forty, by which I take it he meant that youth has vigor and ideas, but to develop the character required to produce great art takes many years of experience.

    Comment by Susan Fiore — September 14, 2012 @ 8:08 am

    • Hi Susan,
      Producing art does indeed take many years and a lot of practicing and playing, in the case of the piano and especially Beethoven’s sonatas, which is probably why Alfred Brendel recorded the whole cycle three times I think (and four times for the concertos). Still, younger players can have some wonderful new ideas and approaches. Plus, listener preferences change with time.
      Thanks for reading and replying.

      Comment by welltemperedear — September 14, 2012 @ 11:17 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,237 other followers

    Blog Stats

    • 2,184,227 hits
%d bloggers like this: