A stupendous recording of what is (by academic consensus, at least) the most important post-Beethoven sonata. Along with Andre Laplante's recording this is probably one of the pinnacles of classical Romantic-era pianism. (Zimerman went through 76 takes before he managed to get a recording of the Sonata he was satisfied with.) The structural ingenuity of this piece is basically unmatched among the large-scale piano works of the period; the sonata opens with a deliciously harmonically ambiguous descent, and ends with a tritone harmonic leap that manages to sound kind of beautiful. The sonata is constructed from five (or, depending on your choice of paper, four, or seven, or nine) motivic elements that are woven into an enormous musical architecture. The motivic are relentlessly transformed throughout the work to suit the musical context of the moment. A theme that in one context sounds menacing and even violent, is then transformed into a beautiful melody (compare 0:55, 8:38, 22:22, 26:02). This technique helps to bind the sonata's sprawling structure into a single cohesive unit, and is a pretty cool example of double-function form (on which, more below). Broadly speaking, the sonata has four movements, although there is no gap between them. Superimposed upon the four movements is a large sonata form structure, although the precise beginnings and endings of the traditional development and recapitulation sections has long been a topic of debate. Charles Rosen states in his book The Classical Style that the entire piece fits the mold of a sonata form because of the reprise of material from the first movement that had been in D major, the relative major, now reprised in B minor.Walker believes that the development begins roughly with the slow section at measure 331, the lead-back towards the recapitulation begins at the scherzo fugue, measure 459, and the recapitulation and coda are at measures 533 and 682 respectively. Each of these sections (exposition, development, lead-back, and recapitulation) are examples of Classical forms in and of themselves, which means that this piece is one of the earliest examples of Double-function form, a piece of music which has two classical forms occurring simultaneously, one containing others. For instance the exposition is a sonata form which starts and ends with material in B minor, containing the second part of the exposition and development wandering away from the tonic key, largely through the relative major D. Similarly, the development section also functions as the scherzo movement of a more traditional multi-movement sonata.