Pianist Jonathan Biss & Onyx Classics Release the 1st Volume of a Nine-Disc Survey of the Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas Jan 9

First CD features Piano Sonatas Nos. 5, 11, 12 & 26


Pianist Jonathan Biss has described the task of recording all 32 of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata’s as a pianist’s “Mount Everest”. He has begun his own ascent with the first volume of Piano Sonatas Nos. 5, 11, 12 and 26 to be released on Onyx Classics today, January 9. The cycle of sonatas will be spread over nine CDs to be released over the next nine years.

In his liner notes for the inaugural recording, Mr. Biss describes the 32 sonatas as “32 masterpieces, 32 distinct structures, 32 fully realized, often awe-inspiring, always unique emotional universes. As individual works, each is endlessly compelling on its own merits; as a cycle, it moves from transcendence to transcendence, the basic concerns always the same, but the language impossibly varied.”

Thirty-one-year-old Mr. Biss says the project’s lengthy span is due to him being reluctant to record the sonatas until he has performed each of them live, giving him the opportunity to study and live with them for a period of time before committing a performance to a recording. To date, he has performed 18 of the sonatas live. Mr. Biss says he doubts that a pianist ever feels truly ready to embark on recording, or performing, the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas, but he feels that at this stage in his career, he is ready to begin the journey: “No matter when I started, recording the complete Beethoven Sonatas was always going to be daunting. But given that I've now been working on this music for 20 years, and that not a day goes by when its beauty, grit, and sheer force of personality fail to take hold of me, I felt that now was as good a time as any. The challenge remains enormous, but the elation in playing Beethoven is like no other feeling and makes the challenge well worth it.

The first volume in the cycle was recorded with Grammy Award-winning producer David Frost at Purchase College , New York in May 2011. Throughout the nine-year project, Mr. Biss will post videos about the project and his thoughts on each of the sonatas and where they fit in the Beethoven canon on his Web site, www.jonathanbiss.com.

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