Eelco Grimm’s Channel Classics Favorites 1 – Wispelwey & Lazić, Beethoven Complete Sonatas & Variations

Beethoven Sonatas Channel Classics

Today Thursday May 21st, in stunningly beautiful weather, we would be celebrating 30 years of Channel Classics with a vibrant garden party at Jared Sacks’ gorgeous home at the river Waal in the Netherlands. As a result of COVID-19, this celebration with music performed by Channel Artists surrounded by industry contacts and friends has obviously been cancelled. One of the best parties of the year we will have to miss out on! At least there is still hope for the big 30th Anniversary Concert on November 29th in the Muziekgebouw Eindhoven, for which many of their artists are saving the date. 

In order to find alternative ways to celebrate the anniversary with Channel Classics, I decided to present you one of their albums on a monthly basis. I will be writing about the albums that mean a lot to me musically and in terms of sound. And during that month you can buy these albums at an unprecedented discount at the Channel Classics website. The very first album in this series that I wanted to put in the spotlight was quickly determined: that could only be the “Complete Beethoven Sonatas & Variations” by Pieter Wispelwey and Dejan Lazić. I have very special memories of this.

Grimm Audio was founded in 2004 and our first product was a truly unique one: a fully discrete built DSD AD converter, consolidating everything that mattered from our many years of design experience. We had also endlessly refined it with listening tests to choose the best capacitors, resistors, etc. Jared Sacks was our second customer of the AD1 and the “Complete Beethoven Sonatas & Variations” was the very first professional recording ever made with it, in December 2004 at the Muziekgebouw Eindhoven. When the SACD came out, our mouths fell open in amazement and we could not stop playing it. And not only because of the amazing sound, but also because of the really beautiful playing of Wispelwey and Lazić. Boy, these gentlemen can play! Virtuosic and lyrical, subtle and grand, and all with enviable clarity in the game. Lazić enchanted me from his first notes. It is Beethoven at its best. This is still one of my favorite recordings. Everything about it is good.

The sound of this recording is warm, defined and yet spacious, but what I immediately noticed was the incredibly stable piano sound. For the first time I heard a reproduction of a piano in which the converters had very low jitter during both recording and playback. It was before the Grimm LS1 loudspeaker, but I did have a CD player with a low jitter clock modification. To hear such a modulation-free piano sound fascinated me immensely. And still, after more than 15 years, it continues to intrigue.

We also used this recording a lot in the development of the LS1. With every step we took in the development of the LS1, including the last few years, this recording became more beautiful. The quality jump I heard with a then illegal DSD rip from the SACD via the MU1 was even breathtaking.

But why did I have an illegal rip? Well, it was one of the very few Channel Classics SACDs with no FLAC & DSD download available for purchase. Due to a technical problem that was unrelated to the AD1, Channel Classics never managed to releasing the FLAC and DSD downloads. Until now!

At my special request, Jared was able to process the recording on the occasion of this blog series. And as a result, the Wispelwey & Lazić Beethoven Sonatas are now available for download. I am delighted to be able giving you the opportunity to hear with your own ears why I enjoy this album so much. You can purchase the Beethoven Sonatas with a 15% discount at NativeDSD, using voucher code GRIMM.

Eelco Grimm

Jared Sacks of Channel Classics
Jared Sacks of Channel Classics in his edit room.
Grimm Audio AD1
The Grimm Audio AD1
Please enjoy this Youtube video of Pieter Wispelwey and Dejan Lazić playing Beethoven’s Sonata in D Major Op. 102, No. 2 during the recording sessions.