I began listening to this piano sonata many years ago, after discovering, at our local library, a recording of it by Claudio Arrau, which I proceeded to check out over and over again (until I finally bought it). Since then I’ve also heard recordings by Artur Schnabel and Wilhelm Kempff and Solomon and Andras Schiff, as well as this one (thanks to my brother-in-law John, who gave it to me as a present years ago). As with any masterpiece, there’s no such thing as a “definitive” performance; it’s inexhaustible. Different performances reveal different dimensions. Listen to the way the dark, subdued second movement opens up to the joyous third movement: it’s one of the most hopeful passages of music I know—one I never tire of hearing.
Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 (“Waldstein”)/Emil Gilels, piano (1972)
Part 1 (beginning of 1st Movement)
Part 2 (end of 1st Movement and 2nd Movement [begins at 2:41])
Part 3 (3rd Movement)