Russ Roberts asks about Beethoven’s slow movements

I was giving a talk and I referred to Beethoven’s slow movements as some of the most splendid creations of humankind.  Russ asked me for a list, so I’ll nominate the following:

1. The Emperor Concerto.  This warhorse is a much underrated piece of music, especially the slow movement.  The best recording, and indeed one of the best classical recordings of all time, is Michelangeli-Celibidache.

2. Beethoven’s 9th.  You could try the recordings by Abbado, Barenboim, or Klemperer, among others, for sublime takes on the slow movement.

3. The Late String Quartets, most of all Op.132 but indeed all of them.  The slow movements are done best by Quartetto Italiano or the Busch Quartet, noting that the latter has inferior sound quality.

4. Hammerklavier Piano Sonata.  Schnabel’s take on the slow movement is the most profound, but his outer movements are a mess.  Gilels or Pollini are safer.  The box of late piano sonatas by Solomon covers the slow movements beautifully as well; when push comes to shove that is my pick.

Richter-Rostropovich are the choice for the slow movements in the cello sonatas.  And don’t forget Ivan Moravec playing the slow movement in the Appassionata.


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