This set of recordings made in 1963 by cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and pianist Sviatoslav Richter of Beethoven's cello sonatas are the most virtuosic, the most lyrical, the most dramatic, the most expressive, the most intense, the most ecstatic, and, in a word, the greatest ever recorded. From the Empfindung style of the Op. 5 sonatas through the "Eroica" style of the Op. 69 sonata to the Elysium style of the Op. 102 sonatas, Beethoven's five cello sonatas are a précis of the highlights of his career as a composer.
Beethoven is undoubtedly one of the most influential and important composers of all time. This album features the landmark symphonies, concertos, chamber music and solo piano music from this giant of music, all performed by the greatest interpreters – Claudio Abbado, Martha Argerich, Wilhelm Kempff, Carlos Kleiber, Rafael Kubelik and many others.
Transcriptions of chamber works to orchestral works have been interesting asides for composers for a long time - whether the transcription are alterations of a composer's own songs or chamber works to full orchestral size or those of other composers for which the transcriber had a particular affinity. Stokowski's transcriptions of Bach's works are probably the most familiar to audiences. The two transcriptions on this recording are the creations Gustav Mahler and his election to transcribe the quartets of Beethoven and Schubert is not surprising: Mahler 'transcribed' many of his own songs into movements or portions of movements for his own symphonies. Listening to Mahler's transcriptions of these two well known quartets - Franz Schubert's String Quartet in D Minor 'Death and the Maiden' and Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet in F Minor 'Serioso' - provides insight into both the orginal compositions and the orchestration concepts of Gustav Mahler. The themes of these two works would naturally appeal to Mahler's somber nature. Mahler naturally extends the tonal sound of each of these transcriptions by using the full string orchestra and in both works it is readily apparent that his compositional techniques within string sections are ever present.
A friend of mine once likened a particularly metronomic performance of Beethoven’s Appassionata to a man being pursued by hornets. I don’t know who’s pursuing Fazil Say in the first movement, but the pianist either sounds as if he’s fleeing the very same hornets or, most probably, an irate music critic. Say tears through the movement without modifying his fleet basic tempo, yet he somehow conveys the drama and disquiet implied by Beethoven’s frequent dynamic changes, abetted by added bass-note octaves (measures 130-33). However, the Andante con moto is not so much about a unified set of variations as it is about Fazil Say the interpretive graffiti artist.
Starting the second half of our great Beethoven series, Boris Berezovsky returns with the Fourth Piano Concerto and Beethoven's own version of the Violin Concerto arranged with the piano as the solo instrument. Boris's earlier contributions to the series have been very well received indeed, and the Russian virtuoso has more up his sleeve. The works on this seventh volume in this series originates from a particularly fruitful time in Beethoven"s career as a composer, around the same time as his fourth and fifth symphony and the Razumovsky quartets. He continues to expand the formal boundaries for the concerto, and the result is of course some of the most fantastic music ever written.
For this super audio disc from Channel Classics, Dejan Lazic's live performance of Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major is programmed with his solo recordings of the Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, "Moonlight," and the Sonata No. 31 in A flat major. Ostensibly, this is a sonic showcase for Lazic and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, under Richard Tognetti, and the state-of-the-art technology brings out the best in the musicians, giving the pianist an intimate presence without crowding him or artificially boosting his volume, while at the same time lending the orchestra a spaciousness that really opens it up.
here's no question that Osmo Vänskä is a true Beethoven conductor. He captures the music's vitality, its eruptive character, and its dramatic syntax as well as anyone on the podium today. He understands the importance of accents, of giving proper weight to Beethoven's bass lines, and of uncovering ear-catching detail without micro-managing the tempo and fracturing Beethoven's large musical paragraphs. The only quibble I have with this performance of the Eroica stems from Vänskä's otherwise admirable deployment of a very wide dynamic range. A couple of times he drops to a "super-duper" pianissimo so quiet that you can barely hear the music, causing it to momentarily lose tension. This only happens a couple of times, most notably at the point of the first-movement recapitulation, and it's so unnecessary given the general excellence of the interpretation that you wonder why he bothers.
“Nobody plays this music more authoritatively and eloquently,” wrote London’s Sunday Times of Stephen Kovacevich in Beethoven. “He is in his element, responding wholeheartedly to the extreme physicality that Beethoven brought to music … but the wit and delicacy of the playing are also remarkable.”Kovacevich himself has spoken of his love for the “fun and virtuosity” of the composer’s early sonatas, while in the often