New 10-Disc Beethoven Piano Sonata Boxed Set Available for Sale On the Web Site

We've just posted something new for sale on Stereophile's Recordings page. But this is not just any new CD release—it's a comprehensive 10-CD boxed set of Robert Silverman performing the 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas, recorded by our very own John Atkinson. Cheapskates rejoice: the complete 10-disc set retails for a very reasonable $65, bringing the price of each CD in the box to a mere $6.50.

The boxed set has been released on the Canadian Orpheum Masters label and is officially titled Ludwig van Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas (Orpheum Masters KSP830). Beautifully packaged, the set includes extensive liner notes (over 60 pages!) by pianist and music scholar Robert Silverman, recording engineer John Atkinson, and Orpheum Masters president David Lemon.

While still capturing the audiophile sound that Atkinson is known for from his previous releases of Silverman (Intermezzo, Concert, and Sonata), this is not an ordinary recording. All 32 Sonatas were "performed" and taped in one long weekend utilizing the Bösendorfer Reproducing Piano. As JA explains, "This piano, of which only 32 have been manufactured by the Viennese company, can act both as a recorder and as a playback machine. When recording, the piano stores information about the timing and dynamics of each note, and the pedaling, in a file on a PC. For playback, the PC data are sent to the piano, where high-precision electromagnetic actuators operate the keys and pedals."

The complete story of the performance and recording process is available in the Stereophile archives (linked here). Equipment used for the recording included four B&K microphones connected via Millennia Media HV3B mic preamps to dCS A/D converters and then to open-reel Nagra-D and Tascam DA-38 MDM digital tape recorders at 24-bits/88.2kHz. Editing, mixing, and mastering were accomplished using a Sonic Solutions Sonic Studio digital audio workstation. The final two-channel master was converted to the CD-compatible 16/44 format using a Meridian 518.

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