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Classical - Released November 15, 2019 | Alpha

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
The final part of this intelligent and well-rounded triptych certainly deserves a Qobuzissime! It has been several years since we have been following this grandiose but relaxed duo, made up of violinist Lorenzo Gatto and pianist Julien Libeer. The Belgian pair have brought their complete collection of Beethoven’s sonatas for violin and piano to a close. There is a lot of spontaneity in this integral work, yet this freshness is not synonymous with offhandedness. On the contrary, the fruit of a well thought-out project, it unfolds as a thrilling story in three parts. The first volume opened like a stage curtain on this landmark of Beethoven with the iconic Kreutzer sonata, a strong score which trumps the expectations of the genre. The vehement drama of the first movement, slow and in a minor key, contrasts with the gentle nature of the second movement and confirms that the sonata is well and truly a format for two instruments on an equal footing and not just a support act to the piano, a Steinway in this instance.The second one delineated the milestones of an expanding genre. From the first to the last sonata, via the most popular nicknamed Spring, we bear witness to a general amplification of style. From Opus 12 to Opus 96, the form expands, the technical difficulty of playing increases and the light-hearted fun gives way to a more energetic rhetoric. For this second album, the duo chose the lustrous power of Chris Maene’s parallel-stringed piano. The instrument affords the necessary resonance to the interpretation of this sometimes outright zesty, sometimes tenderly subtle score.The third volume frames the Steinway’s radiance (Sonatas 6 and 7) with the more ample Maene piano (Sonatas 3 and 8) and is dedicated to the works conceived when the composer’s hearing began to falter. Paradoxically, this nightmare for Beethoven has brought about a gift for his listeners. Varied combinations of timbres, styles and character are constantly renewed in this cycle which Gatto and Libeer faithfully interpret throughout its entirety. Our award of recognition is also a retrospective on the first two milestones of this adventure which has valiantly held its promise. An important integral work to explore and encourage others to do so as well! © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released September 13, 2019 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Pianist Igor Levit came on the scene with an album devoted to Beethoven's late piano sonatas, works normally not undertaken until a player has had some experience. As if that were not enough, he released a three-CD set featuring Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, Op. 120, and Frederic Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated: three giant and challenging variation sets. Seemingly determined to outdo himself, he returned in 2019 with a complete set of Beethoven's sonatas. The four late ones, which made a critical splash, are included here (as played in 2013, not in new versions), and the rest follow somewhat in the pattern you might expect from the earlier album. Levit has said that he admires Artur Schnabel's Beethoven recordings from the 1930s, and indeed he has some of the same go-like-the-wind quality. His combination of fast tempi and graceful phrase shaping works well in many of the early sonatas, although in the Op. 10 set his tempos leave him little room for the marked Presto in the first movement of Op. 10, No. 3. His slow movements are a mixed bag, with the Adagio of the Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2 ("Moonlight"), lacking the evocative moods of some of the others. The first movement of the Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ("Appassionata"), takes the forward sweep too far as the important short-short-short-long motif is reduced to decoration. Levit is never less than carefully considered in his phrasing, though, and many movements have a wonderful liveliness. Sample the joyous finale of the Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101, the first adumbration of the almost mystical quality of the late Beethoven. The late sonatas are worth revisiting, especially the masterfully clear Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major, Op. 106 ("Hammerklavier"), and the Piano Sonata No. 31 in A major, Op. 110. The collection may be brash in many ways, but it lives up to its ambitions and demands attention.
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Solo Piano - Released November 29, 2019 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet
International stardom has made Lang Lang into an ambassador for the classical repertoire. Sony has chosen Beethoven's 250th birthday to release a compilation that was born of a live concert recorded in Vienna, a city which has seen the birth of so many of the composer's works. The collection takes in Sonata No.3 and No.23, also known as Appassionata. These scores are an imaginary battlefield pitting the writer's contending passions against one another. Beethoven, subject to a compulsive inspiration, uses his writing to guide, even contain, this irresistible force: the greatest liberty dammed up by reason, an apparent paradox which his art summarises well. But here Lang Lang gives us an almost fantastical Beethoven. The pianist has fun with a repertoire which exacerbates contrasts thanks to an immense palette of nuances and several liberties taken with the tempos. Although his level of technique permits him such extravagances, it must be said that he is much more conventional with Beethoven than he is with Rachmaninov. You don't fool around with the Master of Bonn. The record closes on a studio version of the first movement of Sonata No.17 (the famous Tempest), recorded for the video game Gran Turismo 5. The rather grandiloquent switch between its Largo and Allegro sections makes its mark on the text. Lang Lang serves up a very literally visual interpretation of this score, built around the most epic settings that these Beethovian storms permit. © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Opera - Released November 29, 2019 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet
Created in 1804 in Vienna before an audience of French officers, none of whom understood any German, Beethoven’s only opera, Leonore, was not successful. Based on a true story which took place during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution -- the story of an intrepid young woman who dresses up as a man in an attempt to rescue her husband, a victim of arbitrary arrest and imprisoned in a dark cell -- Beethoven took his inspiration from several sources. The story, very in keeping with the troubled times, was indeed put to music in 1798 by the French composer Pierre Gaveaux from a libretto by Nicolas Bouilly, then again a little while later in Italian, in 1804 in a smaller-scale work by Ferdinando Paër. The Italian-German composer Simon Mayr then created a “sentimental farce” in Padua not long after Beethoven’s Leonore. Having dreamed of a tragically utopian level of universal human fraternity his whole life, as well as the image of a couple whose relationship is ideally based on marriage and loyalty, Beethoven had found a story which perfectly corresponded to his own political opinions, formed as a result of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution (before the emergence of Napoleon’s power). We now know that he reworked this lyrical work twice, turning it into the format we know it as today with its new name Fidelio. For René Jacobs, the original 1804 version is preferable to the successive amendments and deletions which were made. And we can’t blame him for this, his new recording highlighting all the beauty and modernity of this unfortunately destined first version of Leonore. In 1804, Beethoven has all his resources at his disposal: it’s the year of the Eroica symphony and the Appassionata sonata. By means of his directorial verve, his acute sense of theatrics and a distinguishably well-chosen cast, René Jacobs does this original version of Leonore justice in all its wonder, with all the delights which Beethoven, worried about being portrayed at the opera, ruthlessly scored from his work. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Duets - Released November 15, 2019 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
The final part of this intelligent and well-rounded triptych certainly deserves a Qobuzissime! It has been several years since we have been following this grandiose but relaxed duo, made up of violinist Lorenzo Gatto and pianist Julien Libeer. The Belgian pair have brought their complete collection of Beethoven’s sonatas for violin and piano to a close. There is a lot of spontaneity in this integral work, yet this freshness is not synonymous with offhandedness. On the contrary, the fruit of a well thought-out project, it unfolds as a thrilling story in three parts. The first volume opened like a stage curtain on this landmark of Beethoven with the iconic Kreutzer sonata, a strong score which trumps the expectations of the genre. The vehement drama of the first movement, slow and in a minor key, contrasts with the gentle nature of the second movement and confirms that the sonata is well and truly a format for two instruments on an equal footing and not just a support act to the piano, a Steinway in this instance.The second one delineated the milestones of an expanding genre. From the first to the last sonata, via the most popular nicknamed Spring, we bear witness to a general amplification of style. From Opus 12 to Opus 96, the form expands, the technical difficulty of playing increases and the light-hearted fun gives way to a more energetic rhetoric. For this second album, the duo chose the lustrous power of Chris Maene’s parallel-stringed piano. The instrument affords the necessary resonance to the interpretation of this sometimes outright zesty, sometimes tenderly subtle score.The third volume frames the Steinway’s radiance (Sonatas 6 and 7) with the more ample Maene piano (Sonatas 3 and 8) and is dedicated to the works conceived when the composer’s hearing began to falter. Paradoxically, this nightmare for Beethoven has brought about a gift for his listeners. Varied combinations of timbres, styles and character are constantly renewed in this cycle which Gatto and Libeer faithfully interpret throughout its entirety. Our award of recognition is also a retrospective on the first two milestones of this adventure which has valiantly held its promise. An important integral work to explore and encourage others to do so as well! © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released January 1, 2014 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released May 27, 2016 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet
One could easily lose oneself in the meanderings of the many recordings by Wilhelm Kempff, which stretch out across the 55 years from 1920 to 1975, even though he never liked playing for the microphone. But nonetheless he has always been happy to record, and would constantly polish up his technique so as to render the most faithful possible service to his art, across both his own evolution and the technological innovations that he has seen through his many years of recording, from acoustics to stereophony. The great German pianist left behind him three complete recordings of Beethoven's sonatas. The first was in the 1930s, but it wasn't quite complete; the second in the 1950s; and a final collection, brought together in this recording, from the early 1960s, with stereo sound. Recorded quite quickly, considering the volume of material involved, between January 1964 and January 1965, in the studios of Hanover's Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft, it represents Wilhelm Kempff's final statement on Beethoven's work, having drawn closer to it over the course of several years. While the piano isn't without the odd harsh moment, this complete recording is of very even quality, and it brings out Kempff's free playing style which had brought Beethoven into the light, avoiding the heavy-handedness which German pianists had often inflicted on the composer. This search for clarity and simplicity came close to the improvisatory style that was Beethoven's hallmark, as he quickly "noted" whatever his imagination brought forth. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 1, 2006 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet
It would be difficult to rank these three complete collections of Beethoven's works for cello and piano, recorded by Pierre Fournier with three different partners, all distinguished Beethoven experts: Arthur Schnabel (1947-48), Friedrich Gulda (1959) and Wilhelm Kempff (1965). Fournier and Gulda are like fire and water. The French cellist provides guidance to the solitary and somewhat untameable Gulda, who himself admitted to having learned some discipline over the course of the recording, and kept a debt of gratitude for Fournier his whole life. The result is a tremendous show of mutual attention and a clarity of expression, without any pomposity or pretentiousness. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released October 4, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet
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Quartets - Released September 27, 2019 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
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Symphonies - Released January 1, 2012 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
When talking about Carlos Kleiber's conducting style and recording catalogue, it is easy to over-use superlatives. Perhaps the secrets of his art are best expressed in the cover picture, with the mad elegance of his gestures, which seem to summon up the music through sheer energy, subtlety and a radiant smile: he seems absolutely possessed by inspiration. But listening to this album should do the trick too. Living as a recluse, cancelling three quarters of his concerts, hardly ever recording, it was like a miracle when Carlos Kleiber agreed to set down these two symphonies for Deutsche Grammphon. In 1975, he recorded the 5th Symphony in the generous surroundings of the Vienna Musikverein, with a Philharmonic that hung off his every word and followed his slightest gesture. Under his philosopher's baton, the "5th" became pure, distilled energy, an explosive Pandora's box that gave off sparks and followed the demands of the score precisely. The fateful four notes around which the entire symphony was built were at once the foundation and the capstone of this landmark work, magnificently structured here by Kleiber. Has there ever been such a tempestuous and light-footed Seventh Symphony? One thinks immediately of Nietzsche: "I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance". Recorded the following year, in the same place, this Seventh soars, pirouettes and exults in a pantheist, saving joy, with a lightness that seems to lift the musicians off the floor. "Now am I light, now do I fly; now do I see myself under myself. Now there danceth a God in me.". Thus directed Carlos Kleiber. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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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.
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Duets - Released June 3, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording
The adventure began in 2012, when Gilles Ledure, director of Flagey (Brussels), suggested to Lorenzo Gatto and Julien Libeer they should perform the complete Beethoven violin sonatas there. For these two artists, Beethoven was ‘perhaps the first composer in our history to have embodied the values of the Enlightenment in both his music and his life’. Haunted by these monuments of architecture and expression, they decided to embark on a recording. Here are three sonatas recorded in the legendary Salle de Musique of La Chaux-de-Fonds, including the famous ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata. Since his version of the Beethoven Violin Concerto (ZZT 354), Lorenzo Gatto has taken his place among the violinists who matter on the international scene.
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Chamber Music - Released September 29, 2017 | Evidence

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
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Solo Piano - Released August 23, 2019 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
We asked for this as much as we cautiously anticipated its arrival…Anxious to ensure the return of the pianist, Sony Classical – goodbye Deutsch Grammophon – rolled out the red carpet for Ivo Pogorelich. Recorded in Schloss Elmau and the Raiding Concert Hall (Beethoven in the former and Rachmaninoff in the latter) this new album delivers a wide sound of measured reverberation and embraces Pogorelich’s rough playing style as well as some of his more tender nuances. Like an iron hand in a velvet glove.Ivo Pogorelich is not playing around. For Rachmaninoff, he has chosen the second Sonata in B flat minor, op. 36 in its original, full-length version in which numerous sections disorientate the listener as they lose themselves on a hallucinogenic journey with the musician. Pogorelich progressively eases us in and wins us over by beginning with two, rarely recorded but known, Beethoven works: his sonatas no.22 in F major, op.54 and no.24 en F sharp major, op.78. The chosen listing is intelligent (with two major figures), ambitious (with its demanding score), and generous (for reasons mentioned above).It would seem we’re in familiar territory, yet nothing is less certain when Pogorelich seems to literally grab the scores by their reigns and breathe into them a sense of puissant heroism. Nevertheless, Pogorelich remains an expressive musician, scrutinising the texts with as much malice as severity despite some slower tempos. It’s as if the listing is backlit by his own personal vision for the works. © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Duets - Released August 10, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Two young Belgian soloists—including Lorenzo Gatto, despite the Italian consonance of the name—have been gathering for several years around Beethoven, and here is their interpretation of three Beethoven sonatas: the First written even before the end of the 18th Century—1798—, followed by the very last that is the Tenth Op. 96 from 1812—created by the infamous Pierre Rode on violin, and the archduke Rudolph of Austria who, incidentally, must have been an amazing pianist—, to finish with one of the most famous ones, the Fifth called “The Spring Sonata” (a name not chosen by the composer). Despite dating “only” from 1801, this sonata is incredibly different from the First regarding its architectural maturity, its intense lyricism and its audacities of all kinds. Gatto, who won the Queen Elisabeth Competition, plays on nothing less than the Stradivarius “Joachim”, while Libeer, a chamber music enthusiast, has a field day on a big concert piano with parallel strings and of an almost orchestral sound. Their first volume, released in 2016, was more than noticed by the critics and the audience—and was a great success on Qobuz. © SM/Qobuz
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Duets - Released August 25, 2009 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Distinctions Gramophone Award
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Keyboard Concertos - Released September 13, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Gifted with a vast talent and supported by a powerful global marketing operation, the young Polish-Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki has now been catapulted into the ranks of the global piano stars. He was 15 when Deutsche Grammophon had him sign an exclusive contract; at 24, standing in for a poorly Murray Perahia, he played Beethoven's five Concertos at the head of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields for a European tour in eight different cities. There are in fact three stand-in pianists for Perahia, given he is prone to recurrent health problems. Nelson Freire, Rudolf Buchbinder and Jan Lisiecki who performed the five concertos, conducting from his keyboard, on the 2, 4 and 6 December 2018 in the Berlin Konzerthaus. This complete recording was a part of the commemorations of Beethoven's 250th birthday, which is seeing recordings rain down in a monsoon that shows no signs of stopping until Spring 2020. It will not, however, form a part of the monumental box set that Deutsche Grammophon is getting ready to release, and which will cover all the yellow label's previous recordings, in particular those which were made for the 1970 bicentenary. This new album, which adds to the hundreds of other versions, has the merit of youth, and gives a sort of overview of contemporary musical interpretations, of Beethoven in particular, at the start of the 21st Century. It presents a clean bill of health for classical music, and showcases the extraordinary quality of contemporary musicians: so there is much to celebrate. Lisiecki's Beethoven is not only joyful but also radiant, intelligent, agile, and extremely lucid. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 15, 2019 | BR-Klassik

Hi-Res Booklet
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Classical - Released April 4, 2005 | Warner Classics

Beecham was in love -- deeply, passionately, recklessly in love -- with Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. His recordings of the Viennese classical masters are testimonies to his love: affectionate, powerful, persuasive, and often affecting performances that love neither too wisely nor too well but with unrestrained enthusiasm and unrelenting energy. Indeed, the only thing Beecham loved better than the Viennese classics -- aside from Wagner, Sibelius, and Delius -- was himself. There is more than a little smugness in his Haydn, more than a little self-regard in his Mozart, and, sometimes, more than a little narcissism in his Beethoven. It didn't matter: as these '50s recordings of Beecham conducting his Royal Philharmonic in Beethoven's Second and Seventh symphonies, his C major Mass and his incidental music for The Ruins of Athens, Beecham's performances may be narcasistic but at least his love is returned. The strength and vigor of Beecham's conducting elicits playing of tremendous power and force from the Royal Philharmonic. Its Second symphony sounds like mature Beethoven. Its Seventh symphony sounds like jubilant Beethoven. Its C major Mass with the Beecham Choral Society is absolutely blissful. And its Ruins of Athens is utterly delightful. While some listeners may prefer the linear intensity of Toscanini, the galvanic concentration of Furtwängler, or the massive monumentality of Klemperer, for listeners who want a good time, call Thomas Beecham. EMI's late-'50s stereo sound is as fresh and real today as it was then.