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A BMInt reviewer on temporary hiatus, I got my start in music criticism in the classical music department at WHRB as an undergraduate, and loved my experience there enough to have returned occasionally to do broadcasts.

The upcoming 250th Beethoven birthday almost demands a WHRB Orgy© of the composer’s 32 published piano sonatas and his 33 Diabelli Variations featuring recordings by 33 different pianists―all masters at the top of their game. I’d also ideally like to have a range of performance eras, from the very first sonata recordings of the 1920’s to the most recent issues. It’s a daunting task to listen to the broad  available range, but crowdsourcing could simplify.

So, BMInt critics and readers, what are your desert island Beethoven piano sonata recording nominations? Please cite as many specifics as you can (Claudio Arrau, Alfred Brendel, Wilhelm Kempff, and Daniel Barenboim each did more than one complete cycle, for example). Bonus points will accrue if you can provide a link to audio available through YouTube, Spotify, or some other streaming service, and especially if you can provide some specific thoughts about what’s vital about that performance.
James C.S. Liu is a physician by day and a baritone and music enthusiast by night. He lives with his wife and daughters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Sonata # 1 in f minor, Op. 2, No. 1
Sonata # 2 in A major, Op. 2, No. 2
Sonata # 3 in C major, Op. 2, No. 3
Sonata # 4 in E-flat major, Op. 7
Sonata # 5 in c minor, Op. 10, No. 1
Sonata # 6 in F major, Op. 10, No. 2
Sonata # 7 in D major, Op. 10, No. 3
Sonata # 8 in c minor, Op. 13, “Pathétique”
Sonata # 9 in E major, Op. 14, No. 1
Sonata #10 in G major, Op. 14, No. 2
Sonata #11 in B-flat major, Op. 22
Sonata #12 in A-flat major, Op. 26, “Funeral March”
Sonata quasi una fantasia #13 in E-flat major, Op. 27, No. 1
Sonata quasi una fantasia #14 in c-sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2, “Moonlight”
Sonata #15 in D major, Op. 28, “Pastoral”
Sonata #16 in G major, Op. 31, No. 1
Sonata #17 in d minor, Op. 31, No. 2, “Tempest”
Sonata #18 in E-flat major, Op. 31, No. 3, “The Hunt”
Sonata #19 in g minor, Op. 49, No. 1
Sonata #20 in G major, Op. 49, No. 2
Sonata #21 in C major, Op. 53, “Waldstein”
Sonata #22 in F major, Op. 54
Sonata #23 in f minor, Op. 57, “Appassionata”
Sonata #24 in F-sharp major, Op. 78, “A Thérèse”
Sonata #25 in G major, Op. 79
Sonata #26 in E-flat major, Op. 81a, “Les adieux”
Sonata #27 in e minor, Op. 90
Sonata #28 in A major, Op. 101
Sonate für das Hammerklavier #29 in B-flat major, Op. 106
Sonata #30 in E major, Op. 109
Sonata #31 in A-flat major, Op. 110
Sonata #32 in c minor, Op. 111
33 Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabellli, Op. 121

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