So what is generally considered the best all-around Beethoven piano sonatas edition?

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Schonbergian
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So what is generally considered the best all-around Beethoven piano sonatas edition?

Post by Schonbergian » 19 Jan 2018, 02:08

I'm asking because the market is filled with publishers as far as the eye can see, and Wiener Urtext's fingerings are highly suspect from a first glance (the editor even states that he recognizes they are "uncomfortable"), making me wonder if they're a solid choice. I don't know if Henle can be trusted, either.

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John Ruggero
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Re: So what is generally considered the best all-around Beethoven piano sonatas edition?

Post by John Ruggero » 19 Jan 2018, 04:17

Heinrich Schenker's edition, now very inexpensively reprinted by Dover, has the most natural and musical fingering and the best help with ornamentation etc., and is the one that I require my students to use. It was one of the first practical editions to make serious use of the original sources and, in my opinion, it is probably the best edition ever made of anything because of the profound musical understanding of the editor. There are lessons in interpretation contained in his fingering, which has been discussed by several authors.
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Schonbergian
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Re: So what is generally considered the best all-around Beethoven piano sonatas edition?

Post by Schonbergian » 21 Jan 2018, 18:20

Fascinating. Out of curiosity, could you explain how Schenker's musical background influenced that edition, above and beyond what editors usually contribute?

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John Ruggero
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Re: So what is generally considered the best all-around Beethoven piano sonatas edition?

Post by John Ruggero » 21 Jan 2018, 19:03

Great question, and I will attempt to restrain myself.

I assume that you know about Schenker's theoretical work. What is often not known is that as a very fine practical musician, his primary aim was interpretation and composition. He felt that the nineteen century had misunderstood what had been accomplished during the Classic period and that this affected both interpretation and composition in a way that only the most gifted musicians could surmount. (For example, Brahms said that he had to unlearn everything he been taught to be able to compose.) For this reason, Schenker went back to the original musical and theoretical texts to unravel a lost tradition. His life-long quest lead him eventually to understand (on a conscious level) the common practice style more deeply than anyone before or since. This deep understanding was put at the service of the musical interpretation of the many musical works he wrote about and analyzed and of course also influenced his practical edition of the Beethoven Sonatas.
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JulianBennettHolmes
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Re: So what is generally considered the best all-around Beethoven piano sonatas edition?

Post by JulianBennettHolmes » 31 Jan 2018, 03:04

I agree that the Schenker editions of Beethoven's sonatas are the best. One should be aware, however, that the measure numbers are printed at the END of the measure they refer to, which can be very confusing.

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John Ruggero
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Re: So what is generally considered the best all-around Beethoven piano sonatas edition?

Post by John Ruggero » 31 Jan 2018, 13:38

I am glad you appreciate the Schenker editions, Julian. The measure numbers are at the end of every 5 measures and large like rehearsal letters with circular enclosures. But one one gets used to it; at least i did. When the edition was later reissued by Universal, the more usual system was used instead. So if you can't stand the measure numbers in the Dover edition you can buy the Schenker (revised by E. Ratz, who corrected a few misprints) with standard measure numbers in the margins from Universal; but it will cost a lot more!
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Schonbergian
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Re: So what is generally considered the best all-around Beethoven piano sonatas edition?

Post by Schonbergian » 31 Jan 2018, 15:13

I purchased both volumes of the Schenker edition from Dover. The printing is not quite as clear as I would have liked but it is certainly acceptable and a step up from the more recent Dover editions with awful printing. The binding is sewn but not flexible in the slightest, so I will likely have to get them re-bound.

Still a phenomenal value, even with the added cost of binding. A pianist friend was showing me her edition of one Beethoven sonata from Wiener Urtext, which cost only a few dollars less than one Dover volume of fifteen sonatas. And I see nothing in the Wiener that justifies that cost over Schenker's.

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Re: So what is generally considered the best all-around Beethoven piano sonatas edition?

Post by John Ruggero » 01 Feb 2018, 13:02

The sewn bindings do loosen up, but for greater ease I spiral bound my working copy in three volumes: Early (with op. 49 at the beginning where it belongs), Middle, Late.

Schenker also wrote books on op. 101, 109, 110 and 111 which are his special brand of analysis, interpretation, and critiques of the then existing editions and commentaries, all based on the autographs. He couldn't complete op. 106 because the autograph disappeared after the first publication. These are now available in English (Oxford) as well as a book on his sketches for 106 by N. Marston.
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jrethorst
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Re: So what is generally considered the best all-around Beethoven piano sonatas edition?

Post by jrethorst » 12 Feb 2018, 05:29

Wonderful discussion. Of course, it's wonderful music.

Thanks,
John R.
John Rethorst

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ruaraidh
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Re: So what is generally considered the best all-around Beethoven piano sonatas edition?

Post by ruaraidh » 12 Feb 2018, 10:25

Good to know! I'm studying the Sonata no.5 in C minor Op. 10 from the Dover edition I got from IMSLP. I wasn't aware of the true value of that particular edition, but among the other ones available, it was the most appealing to me. Now I'm glad I chose it.

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