Beethoven’s first piano sonata was composed in 1795, very much influenced by Mozart. The last, No. 32, was composed between 1821 and 1822, influenced by no one. Thomas Mann, in Doctor Faustus, writes of No. 32, “the sonata in general, as a species, as traditional art-form; it itself was here at an end, brought to its end, it had fulfilled its destiny …” A season-long survey of Beethoven’s 32 sonatas, performed by several top pianists, begins with Kirill Gerstein. He plays Nos. 2, 16, 22, 19, and 4. —L.J.
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