Beethoven – The 32 Piano Sonatas
Gerard Willems commenced recording Beethoven’s 32 sonatas in 1997 and completed his historic mission in 2000, becoming the first Australian to do so. The CDs won two ARIA awards. For an encore, Gerard recorded Beethoven’s five piano concertos in 2002-03. The Diabelli Variations followed in 2010.
Beethoven – The 35 Piano Sonatas
In 2007, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in London published a controversial edition of the sonatas, ‘Beethoven – The 35 Piano Sonatas’. It turned heads by replacing the totemic number 32 with 35: the three Electoral sonatas were admitted into the sacrosanct oeuvre. These works, according to the editor Barry Cooper, ‘were in the first complete edition of the sonatas, published just after Beethoven’s death by his friend Haslinger, who presumably knew what Beethoven wanted … and if you ignore early works, you don’t show the longer trajectory of the composer’s development.’
Beethoven – The 36 Piano Sonatas
For Gerard Willems, the option to record the ‘Electoral’ Sonatas and add them to his acclaimed recordings of the 32 arose after his producer, Brendan Ward, wrote an account of the Beethoven project (The Beethoven Obsession, NewSouth Publishing). Around this time the Dutch musicologist, Cees Nieuwenhuizen, announced that he had taken a thousand bars of music Beethoven wrote in 1792–93 (called ‘Composition in D major/minor for piano’) and reconstructed a three-movement sonata he titled Fantasy Sonata in D. It gave Gerard the extraordinary chance to record another Beethoven sonata, the 36th.
Re-releasing the original recordings of the sonatas in chronological order — including the additional four — allows us to track Beethoven’s musical development with ease. For piano aficionados, it offers another opportunity to hear the unique sound of Australia’s magnificent Stuart piano. Six instruments were used over the life of the Beethoven recording project, three for the 32 sonatas. Re-mastering adds vibrancy to the Stuart sound while remaining true to each piano’s distinctive characteristics. They have never sounded so good.
- 36 piano sonatas
- 5 piano concertos (with Sinfonia Australis, cond: Antony Walker)
- Diabelli Variations,
- C minor Variations,
- Andante favori,
- Für Elise
- 14 CDs plus bonus EMPEROR DVD