Name 4 women who recorded the 32 Beethoven sonatas

Name 4 women who recorded the 32 Beethoven sonatas


norman lebrecht

September 05, 2019

‘Only four women pianists have recorded complete cycles of the Beethoven piano sonatas,’ maintains Damian Thompson in this week’s Speccie.

Not Martha. Not Pires. Not Yudina.

So who?

Read here.



  • Caravaggio says:

    Annie Fischer?

  • t says:

    1.Tatiana Nikolayeva
    2.Maria Greenberg
    3.Anny Fischer

  • Steve de Mena says:

    I found a 5th with not much trouble. Bet there are more.

  • Brettermeier says:

    Angela Hewitt only has two sonatas left (opp. 106 and 111). They were scheduled to be released this year, IIRC.

  • Gabriel says:

    Let’s see, off the top of my head: Nikolayeva, Grinberg, Annie Fischer and Biret. Nikolayeva and Fischer, in particular, are top notch, quite extraordinary, in fact. Grinberg is better than most. Biret, though she should be commended for daringly slow tempi, is let down by rather four-square phrasing and an unfortunate tone. Isn’t Hewitt close to completing her own cycle? By far the worst of the soon to be five. Though her Bach can be gorgeous, she’s a frightful bore in Beethoven. Small sample size, then, but taken together, they’re on the whole better than the men: two extraordinary sets, one that is very good, another that, while ultimately unsuccessful, at least dates to be different, and one that is quite bad. That’s a pretty great batting average.

  • Meal says:

    I am aware of the cycle of Annie Fischer, one of the extraordinary standards since many years, and of HJ Lim, published a couple of years ago. I did not have the chance to listen to Mari Kodama. I am not sure whether Angela Hewitt finished the cycle, yet. Hewitt’s recordings may deserve more publicity anyhow.

  • Gabriel says:

    Just clicked on the link. I’d forgotten about Lim and Kodama. No wonder. Lim is really awful, as if the HIPsters and their perfunctory tempi had taken over her body, and Kodama is, as the reviewer notes, “polite” to a fault (read: boring, nothing of any interest to say, like, say, Ashkenazy). So that’s actually six sets, at least, not four, with one soon to be completed. Someone might want to remind the reviewer about Biret and Nikolayeva. Oh, and I personally love the sound of Annie’s supposedly awful Bosendorfer. Very distinctive, which is a big plus among so much homogenized Beethoven.

  • Bolly says:

    Nikolayeva (live, full of wrong notes), Grimberg (truly great), Anne Olland (never heard)and HJ Lim (awfull).

    • esfir ross says:

      Maria Grinberg was under-hyped in USSR but well recorded and I had her some Beethoven sonatas on LP since early 60th. She sadly said: “The recognision’ll come after death”. She resurrected F.Mendelsohn “Song without words”-the greatest recording. I attend her recital-not sold out event in Kishinev 1968 but memorable. She was a nice person-friend of person that called her Mousya.

    • Gabriel says:

      But Nikolayeva’s wrong notes are better than most’s right notes. A wonderful set, wrong notes and all.

  • Isaac W says:

    A Mitsuko Uchida cycle would be fantastic

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Annie Fischer, Tatiana Nikolayeva, Anne Öland, Idil Biret, Mari Kodama, Hj Lim, Yu Kosuge.

  • mary says:

    Beethoven’s piano sonatas were masculinist, all testosterone fueled aggression and incessant pounding.

    The “moonlight sonata” you say?

    A melancholy of male fear of impotence. Then back to the incessant pounding and premature ejaculation of the last movement.

  • Eric says:

    No mention of Joyce Hatto.

  • Jean says:

    Angela Hewitt

  • Maria Greenberg, Annie Fischer, Tatiana Nikolayeva, Idil Biret,, Anne Oeland, Yu Kosuge, Mari Kodama, Daniela Varinska, Rita Bouboulidi, Irina Mejoueva, Melodie Zhao, H. J. Lim, plus other Japanese female pianists not well known in the West.

    • pianophil says:

      The title of this page is “women who recorded the 32 Beethoven sonatas”.

      Mejoueva and HJ Lim didn’t record all 32.

    • esfir ross says:

      Peggy Salkind played 32 sonatas in San Francisco conservatory in several consequent recitals in the 80th

  • Fliszt says:

    Rita Boubiulidi recorded the complete Beethoven cycle, and performed it in New York. The now forgotten British pianist Katherine Bacon (a longtime Juilliard faculty member) performed the complete cycle in New York in the 1930’s but never recorded it. Anne Koscielny performed the cycle and intended to record it, but became ill and died before she was able to do so.

    • Stephen Cera says:

      My former teacher, the late Lillian Steuber at the University of Southern California, told me that Katherine Bacon was the first woman to perform the Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle in the U.S. Ms. Steuber herself — a former student of Egon Petri and Josef Lhevinne, among others — performed the cycle of 32 Sonatas a number of times, the last in the early 1970s. Those performances were recorded at USC, but not for commercial release.

      • Donald G. Wileman says:

        Is there a way to get copies, nonetheless? I adored the tiny fragments of her work that appeared in some of the _Peanuts_ TV specials. I’ve spent a fair bit of time and money looking for a reasonable facsimile. There ain’t one —though I eventually settled on Backhaus.

    • Anne Koscielny recorded the Sonatas in
      live concerts at Hartt College and at the
      University of Maryland. The first is on tape, the others, digital. They are archived, I presume, at those institutions.

      • Fliszt says:

        Anne told me she would commercially record the Beethoven cycle when she found the right piano, the right studio, the right technicians, and the right “sound”. I knew then that she would never get it recorded – as her standards, however admirable, were simply too high.

  • pianophile says:

    HJ Lim’s “cycle” isn’t complete…she only recorded 30 out of the 32, correct?

  • Petros Linardos says:

    I don’t understand why we need to discuss gender at every turn.

    Murray Perahia is a man, but he is my ideal living and active interpreter of Beethoven piano works. If only he recorded the complete sonatas…

  • M McAlpine says:

    Annie Fischer – the cycle sits on my CD shelf!

  • Edgar Self says:

    Maria rinberg was indeed a very fine pianist. Her sonata cycle is notable but she won me over by playing a rare cadenza by Carl Reinecke on her record of the fourth concerto. Reinecke wrote a spectacular cadenza for Beethoven’s third concerto that Wilhelm Backhaus and Benno Moiseiwitsch play on their recordings.

    Mary Yudina recorded many but not all of the sonatas. She is formidable particularly in the “Hammerklavier”. Her classmates at St. Petersburg were Vladimir Sofronitzki and Shostakovich.

  • sorin says:

    At least half of Beethoven’s sonatas are total bore and , especially the first half of them.So I don’t see the point of recording all of them.

  • Guests says:

    Lets see, 4 women pianists: Yuja Wang, Alicia de Larrocha, Barenboim’s ex…any of them?

  • Guest says:

    I mean DuToit’s ex.

  • Daniel C Friedman says:

    Recordings of performances by Eunice Norton (a Schnabel student) of all the Beethoven Sonatas are available on YouTube. There are multiple versions of many of the pieces, taken from different periods of her very long career. There are also a number of her performances of Bach (including all of the WTC), Schubert, and Mozart on YouTube as well. An under-appreciated artist, who is very much worth further investigation for those who aren’t familiar with her playing!

  • Stephen DeChiaro says:

    Idil Biret! The first and ONLY female pianist to record all of the Beethoven-Liszt concertos also.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Strong-minded, incisive pianist Lili Kraus is one I wish had done them, as she did all of Mozart’s, twice. Some might add Myra Hess and Elly Ney.

    In the unisex division, Paul Lewis’s complete set stands high with me. Hearing his Schubert cycle and a Beethoven concerto here confirmed it.

    He’s not often mentioned, but Rubinstein’s sense of musical rhetoric made his Beethoven very persuasive, especially his first “Appassionaata”on vinyl 78s. I saw Richter play it with our others. Otherwise Kempff, what there is of Edwin Fischer, and, yes, Schnabel.