Organisms with totally individual Acharacteristics
Although, without a doubt, the interpretative analysis of Beethoven‘s piano sonatas represents an absolute peak in the life of any pianist, these exceptional compositions still require the maximum amount of technical skills, highly personal commitment and deeply emotional exam- ination. On the one hand, the 32 sonatas represent, to quote Hans von Bülow‘s famous words, the “pianist‘s new testa- ment” – which definitely tallies with the emphatic, canonical impetus of the works– however, on the other hand, they can be interpreted as “work in progress”, in view of their extremely individual and personal expression of the basic form of the “sonata” in general.
In his piano sonatas, Beethoven managed more or less to achieve the unimaginable – in the gigantic range between Op. 2, written between 1793-95 and Op. 111, written between 1821/22, he made his mark with no less than 32 compositional proposals for solutions, whose respective differ- ences must be assessed as distinctive and radical. Alfred Brendel commented as follows: “Beethoven does not repeat himself in his sonatas. Each composition, each movement is a new organism.” The form of the sonata itself had become for Beethoven a technical problem of com- position, the solutions to which did not permit any kind of repetition – the prevail- ing thematic material was so unique, that this was a requisite. Thus, Beethoven‘s piano sonatas became an open forum for his experimentation; in particular, it was as if the elements of his creative process of composition were focussed on these sonatas like a burning-glass, registering their diversity. Here on the piano, the instrument that was truly his, Beethoven tried them out, dismissed them, developed them. New measures, against which following generations had to pit themselves.