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Classical - Released January 1, 2010 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
This 2011 box set brings together Alfred Brendel's first recording for Philips of the complete cycle of Beethoven's piano sonatas and his recording of all five piano concertos. Brendel was one of the handful of all-time Beethoven masters, known for his intelligent, yet entirely musical and effective interpretations. These recordings, all (including the concertos) dating from the 1970s, represent his playing at the height of his skills. Brendel did make a second set of the sonatas for Philips in the early '90s, recorded digitally, so some audiophiles may prefer the sound of those over these earlier, analog recordings, but the artistry is still in these. For the concertos, Brendel is joined by Bernard Haitink and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Classical - Released October 17, 2011 | Warner Classics


Classical - Released January 1, 1996 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
If beauty is truth and truth beauty, then the Quartetto Italiano's late-'60s, early-'70s cycle of the complete Beethoven string quartets is possibly the most truthful cycle ever recorded because it is certainly the most beautiful cycle ever recorded. No quartet has ever played with such consummate beauty of tone, such ideal intonation, and such superb ensemble as the Quartetto Italiano. In the most strenuous passages, in the most awkward, in the most excruciating passages, the Italiano is always and everywhere transcendentally beautiful. The "early" quartets bring out all the high-Classical poise and elegance of the works, expressing the strong emotions of the young Beethoven in performances of graceful beauty. The "middle" quartets are powerfully muscular and as powerfully intellectual, balancing the heart and mind of the mature Beethoven in performances of exquisite beauty. The "late" quartets are deeply emotional and profoundly spiritual, transcending the duality of heart and mind in the sublime beauty of the interpretations. And Philips' stereo sound is nearly as beautiful as the Italiano's tone and certainly as truthful as any recording could possibly be in capturing the greatness of these interpretations. One of the two or three greatest sets of the Beethoven quartets ever recorded.

Classical - Released January 1, 2006 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Every man's death diminishes us all, but the death of a man so close to completing his greatest achievement and the summation of his life's work diminishes us all greatly -- very, very greatly. When Emil Gilels died in 1985, he had completed recordings of most but not all of Beethoven's piano sonatas, released here in a nine-disc set. What's here is unimaginably good: superlative recordings of 27 of the 32 canonical sonatas, including the "Pathétique," "Moonlight," "Waldstein," "Appassionata," "Les Adieux," and the majestic "Hammerklavier," plus the two early "Electoral" Sonatas and the mighty Eroica Variations. What's missing is unimaginably priceless: five of the canonical sonatas, including the first and -- horror vacui -- the last. But still, for what there is, we must be grateful. Beyond all argument one of the great pianists of the twentieth century, Gilels the Soviet super virtuoso had slowly mellowed and ripened over his long career, and when he began recording the sonatas in 1972, his interpretations had matured and deepened while his superlative technique remained gloriously intact straight through to the last recordings of his final year. In performance after performance, one marvels at Gilels' virtuosity, his expressivity, and his sheer joy in music-making. But most of all, it is through the intensity of Gilels' interpretations, in the way he finds the depths of the Largos and reaches the heights of the Allegro vivaces, in the way he seems to so thoroughly understand and completely identify with Beethoven's music, that we understand it in a new and better way ourselves. While obviously not the only Beethoven piano sonata set one should have on the shelf, any Beethoven collection without Gilels is a poorer Beethoven collection. From high stereo to early digital, Deutsche Grammophon's sound is consistently translucent.

Classical - Released January 1, 2009 | Decca Music Group Ltd.


Classical - Released January 1, 1998 | Decca Music Group Ltd.


Classical - Released January 1, 1992 | Decca Music Group Ltd.


Classical - Released January 1, 1984 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)


Classical - Released September 1, 2017 | Profil


Classical - Released January 1, 1989 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)


Classical - Released January 1, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or

Classical - Released January 1, 2012 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions Choc de Classica

Classical - Released January 29, 1999 | ARTE NOVA Classics


Classical - Released January 1, 1995 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Distinctions Diapason d'or

Classical - Released January 1, 2006 | Decca Music Group Ltd.


Classical - Released September 1, 2008 | Warner Classics


Classical - Released January 1, 1997 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)


Classical - Released February 10, 2004 | RCA Red Seal

America's Guarneri Quartet recorded the complete string quartets of Beethoven twice -- once in stereo for RCA in the late '60s and then again in digital for Philips in the late '80s and early '90s. The earlier set was recorded at the height of the group's youthful fame, and the performances burn with passionate strength and sensuous energy. The later set, reissued here by Brilliant, was recorded at the first flush of the digital era, and the performances glow with musical wisdom and emotional maturity. Some listeners might prefer the earlier set's driven tempos and hard-edged ensemble; others might incline toward the later set's judicious tempos and smooth-cornered ensemble. There's no doubting the earnestness of either set's performances: Arnold Steinhardt, John Dalley, Michael Tree, and David Soyer are masterful musicians and ardent individualists who mean what they say and do what they say they'll do. While there have been many superlative recordings of Beethoven's complete quartets -- one thinks of the Old World charm of the Budapest Quartet's cycle, the New World energy of the Emerson, the Old Europe beauty of the Quartetto Italiano, the postwar intensity of the Alban Berg, or the pre-millennial rapture of the Quatuor Végh -- this later set by the Guarneri Quartet arguably ranks with them.