Piano sonatas

It’s time to leave Chopin in peace

There’s a scene early on in A Song to Remember — Charles Vidor’s clunky Technicolor film of 1945 — in which the young Frédéric Chopin (Cornel Wilde) provides background music for a banquet hosted by Count Wyszynska in his Warsaw palace, plates of rubbery pig and candy-coloured vegetables in heady supply. Chopin plays his own Fantaisie-Impromptu, five years or so before composing it, and then, having insulted the Russian governor of Poland (‘I do not play for tsarist butchers!’), he avoids arrest by hastily rowing to Paris, so it seems, dressed like a military cadet. Our real-life hero has borne an awful lot since his premature death in 1849, though

Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas were his musical laboratory – here are the best recordings

If you want to understand Beethoven, listen to his piano sonatas. Without them, you’ll never grasp how the same man could write the hummable, easy-listening Septet of 1799 and the scraped dissonances of the 1825 Grosse Fuge, which even today scares Classic FM listeners. It’s the 32 sonatas, not the nine symphonies or 16 string quartets, that join the dots. The symphonies are monuments rather than a guidebook. For example, the Second doesn’t warn you that the Eroica is about to explode in your face. The quartets, meanwhile, jump from the six of Opus 18, in which Beethoven essentially pours new wine into old bottles, to the three Razumovskys of