Having neglected my piano for too long and finding myself with more free time than usual, I decided a little while ago to start the non-trivial process of reading through all of Beethoven's piano sonatas. I'm not doing them in order, so much - I have book 1 of 3 at work and book 2 at home, so I'm jumping back and forth in time a bit.
In the process I've come across a few interesting thoughts:
For one, I find that Chopin (my usual favourite to sight-read) is a much better writer for piano. No matter what crazy chords he throws in there, they more often fit the hand comfortably. Beethoven, I find, was more concerned with form and structure, but less concerned with making things playable. (Part of this, of course, has to do with me being out of practice, but often my hands simply aren't big enough to play a part as it is supposed to be played - which often leads to cheating with pedal - blasphemy!)
Second, I knew that finger agility and control deteriorate when not practicing, but I hadn't realized that sight-reading does as well. Sight-reading was always a big strength of mine, but I was a little dismayed when I started at how many easy mistakes I was making. This has been slowly getting better as I've been going through, but I should really make a point of reading more often.
Third, I'm finding a renewed appreciation for Beethoven's genius. Despite the playability issues, Beethoven certainly redefined the form of the sonata. It's so interesting to see him as a halfway point between something like Mozart - almost always predictable and formulaic - and a Romantic composer: playing with themes in unconventional ways, throwing in surprises here and there, and at times very deliberately departing from the template of a typical sonata.
I'm not sure if I'll finish the entire sonata repertoire, since I remember that the later sonatas get a little weird (therefore less fun to read) and it's December so there's all sorts of Christmas music to play. But it's been an enlightening exercise in the meantime, for sure.