Beethoven's works for solo piano – the sonatas, variations, and bagatelles – and the five concertos for piano and orchestra stand at the heart of the repertory. Beethoven's Piano Music: A Listener's Guide
, by Victor Lederer, will help the motivated reader understand this popular but often knotty music. The bulk of the text consists of a movement-by-movement analysis of the 32 sonatas, fascinating for their individuality and for the way they trace the master's development.
In addition to the sonatas, Lederer also takes the reader through the most significant of the variations. The greatest is the Diabelli
, Beethoven's monumental takeoff on a trivial theme, but three more sets, the 32 Variations in C minor
, the Variations on an Original Theme
, Op. 34, and the “Eroica” Variations
, Op. 35, are also of the highest quality. And the Bagatelles, Opp. 33, 119, and 126, are short but strong studies that display different aspects of Beethoven's musical personality. Finally, Lederer discusses the five piano concertos in detail, showing the influence of the sublime models of Mozart in the first three concertos, with Beethoven boldly finding his own voice with the beloved Fourth and Fifth Concertos. The book comes with a Naxos CD containing performances by pianist Jenö Jandó that illustrate the text.