Sitting early in the “big five” sequence of late sonatas, beloved of record companies, this architectural gem is a perfect link between the tuneful structured dramas of the earlier works, and the increasingly supernatural world at the end of the 32.
There are lots of great versions. The Knife nominates a somewhat hard to find one, picked up second hand in Paris, on a CD with the awesome Hammerklavier. The pianist is Abdel Rahman el Bacha, a French/Lebanese virtuoso, who has recorded all 32.
el Bacha delivers the four movements with a deft and flowing touch, each strand beautifully defined. The airy grace and easy flow contrasts perfectly with the equally valid, but occasionally excessively granitic performances of masters like Emil Gilels.
For a nicely illustrated exposition of op 101, try this audio guide by Andras Schiff on the Guardian website