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Classical - Released April 5, 2011 | PentaTone

Booklet
Pentatone present the final volume of Philippe Herreweghe’s Beethoven series. At the helm of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, the conductor offers Beethoven’s Symphonies n° 4 and 7 with the same mastery that was present in the first volumes. Out of iron discipline and religious respect for the text arises a fresh sense of freedom and regeneration. © Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 30, 2010 | PentaTone

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In the 2000s, Philippe Herreweghe recorded for the label Pentatone the entirety of Beethoven’s symphonies with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic under the senior artistic direction of Andreas Neubronner at Tritonus studios. Recorded in Anvers, Belgium in October 2009, this last section calls on several vocal soloists for the finale (Christiane Oelze, Ingeborg Danz and David Wilson-Johnson) with whom the Flemish conductor had collaborated regularly for some years starting with Bach’s cantatas. What we are presented with here is a kind of intimate Beethoven, this Beethoven remains generally calm, despite the occasional unconventional streak (but less so than with Brüggen or Gardiner), particularly light textures (Adagio molto e cantabile), and lively phrases. With Philippe Herrewegh, Beethoven never leaves the 18th century and the dancing spirit he works into his interpretation (Finale, notably the introduction) weaves in the watermarks of close links to composers from previous generations. © Qobuz
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Classical - Released July 31, 2007 | harmonia mundi

Originally published in 1991, this slightly different recital by pianist Brigitte Engerer provides a beautiful look into the Beethovenian piano catalogue with some large and small works. As Jean-Yves Bras explains in the original record sleeve, “it illustrates, in fact, the daily work and versatile temperament of a Beethoven who sometimes opened up to the seduction of the frivolous viennese public, and was sometimes conscious of his artistic direction, imposing expression, style and thought”. What’s more, Brigitte Engerer starts with the two Rondos Op. 51s published by Artaria in Vienna in 1802, but whose composition dates back to 1797, two brilliant works which exude an improvisational character. The pianist adds to the programme the formidable song (formidable because of its fame and repetitive melody) Für Elise (in English, For Elise). Written in one day on the 27th of April 1810, this score made up of 300 bars is, in reality, a work of maturity for the composer - one can sometimes forget - and contemporary of Sonata No. 26 “The Farewells”. The sonata acts as the perfect prelude to the magnificent Andante favori which Beethoven had initially intended to be the slow movement in the Waldsten Sonata (1803-1804), but was then already overly long. The most substantial work on the bill, the Sonata in A flat Major Op. 110, is perhaps the most spellbinding of the final three sonatas. Relatively brief, it basks in an unforgettable light and its final fugue includes reminders of the gloomy preceding Adagio with a dazzling sense of balance. Brigitte Engerer has had the good idea of including the Variations on an original theme in D Major Op. 76 in which the theme is The Ruins of Athens, composed in 1809 and rarely braved by pianists. © Théodore Grantet/Qobuz
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Classical - Released July 17, 2020 | Alia Vox

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Jordi Savall’s Beethoven is bursting with life. The accents, rhythms and articulations are sprightly of course. But also in spirited, intelligent phrases, the accomplished orchestral balance cheerfully testifies to this (Adagio from the 4th). The tempos too are relatively measured but alluring. The secret of these Beethoven compositions is their dancing spirit, inherited from the dances of the 18th century, which brings a constant energy. Another way in which these works stand out is the revolution of timbres which inspired the Master of Bonn’s formal constructions, in the new registers (the development of brass instruments and notably horns, but also increased presence of timpani, etc.) and in the development of dense textures. All this is paired with a poetic, theatrical sound: these symphonies are hidden dramas. This is how Ernest Ansermet also saw it in the past and his complete Decca recordings bear the trace of this, despite a naturally different general aesthetic (Decca, 1958-1963, well worth rediscovering). Here, the 4th is bursting with audacity - it is perhaps the greatest of the first works of the genre in the Beethoven catalogue. Jordi Savall achieves a very beautiful ensemble, which very clearly sticks out above the rest in this year of Beethoven (2020), a year overflowing with rather unconvincing artistic proposals. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 1, 2014 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Beethoven's nine symphonies were recorded by Herbert von Karajan in 1961-1962 with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra — of which he became permanent conductor in 1955 to replace Wilhelm Furtwängler — and released on the DG label in 1963. 1963 October 15, Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic played Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the inaugural concert of the Berlin Philharmonie. The first complete recording by the Austrian conductor — next will be the versions recorded between 1975-1977 (released in 1977, also a high-flying interpretation) and between 1982 and 1984 (released in 1985) — this version of 1963 remains the most inhabited on the whole. Technically remarkable, she is one of the great peaks of her discography. © Qobuz
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Classical - Released April 3, 2020 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released January 1, 2012 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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 May 1, 2020 | Piano 21

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In the 1980s, Cyprien Katsaris lit up the discographic landscape with his recording for Teldec of the complete nine symphonies of Beethoven in the superlative transcriptions of Franz Liszt, a landmark undertaking. At the dawn of the festivities marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the Franco-Cypriot pianist is offering us another bold project, a six-disc box set dedicated entirely to the Master of Bonn. This chronological “Beethovenian Odyssey” is comprised of particularly rare original works and transcriptions. It begins and ends with his very first and last works, enabling us to steep ourselves in the world of Beethoven and, by virtue of the solo piano, to troll through forty years of a creative life that left a deep impression on the history of music. So, the journey begins with the Variations on a Theme of Dressler, composed by a twelve-year-old adolescent, heavily influenced by Mozart and Haydn, followed by the very first sonata composed by Beethoven a few months later, not the Sonata in D Minor, Op. 2, No. 1, written more than ten years later (also in this box set, further on), cited as the first in the catalogue of the composer’s works, but another, fairly short piece, in E-Flat Major, that of the future “Emperor”, the first of three “sonatas” composed between 1782 and 1783 and dedicated to the Prince-Elector of Cologne, Maximilian Francis of Austria. Then follows an almost unknown work, the Two Preludes Op. 39, surprisingly experimental. Throughout this box-set journey, Cyprien Katsaris has no qualms about visiting works that are seldom played, in keeping with the watchword for his Piano 21 label: he plays what he loves, with an ever-fresh sense of sharing and curiosity. Thus he unveils for us a solo piano arrangement for the “Spring” and “Kreutzer” sonatas for piano and violin, the slow movements of the Sixth and Sixteenth Quartets of Saint-Saëns and Mussorgsky, and the slow movement of Ninth Symphony in the Wagner’s arrangement. These transcriptions also shed light on a number of major figures of the musical world of the XIXth Century in Europe, sometimes forgotten (Louis Winkler, Gustav Roesler), sometimes neglected (Carl Czerny, Anton Diabelli) and attest to the radiant, irresistible aura of Beethoven’s genius for at least a century. Cyprien Katsaris certainly shares quantities of unpublished material here, but he does not neglect the more renowned side of Beethoven’s works, including in this programme eight of the thirty-eight sonatas (not least the most famous “Clair de Lune”, “The Tempest” and “Appassionata”). Everything you ever wanted to know about the greatness of Beethoven but never dared to ask can truly be found here. © Piano21
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Classical - Released April 3, 2020 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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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
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Chamber Music - Released September 4, 2020 | BIS

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Simply magical. This release, beautifully recorded at the Villa Siemens in Berlin, initiates a complete set of Beethoven’s Violin and Piano Sonatas on BIS Records by two of the most extraordinary chamber musicians. Two musicians, of such sharp and intense refinement, violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann and pianist Martin Helmchen. It’s surprising to find these two artists on a label that isn't the home of their solo projects; Helmchen records for Alpha, and Zimmermann for Ondine. BIS, which is actually the label of Zimmermann’s brilliant trio, have recovered the Holy Grail, as the two musicians are in perfect musical harmony! Everything seems smooth, supple, the musical dialogue incomparably elegant, balanced and fitting. It was only after a few recitals that the first recording sessions took place in September 2019: the miracles that occur in concert seem to grace the recording sessions. If in doubt, start with the Third Sonata. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Quartets - Released May 15, 2020 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
The Quatuor Ébène timed this round-the-world Beethoven cycle to coincide with Beethoven's 250th birthday in 2020, beginning a worldwide tour and fortunately completing it before the outbreak of the pandemic in that year. The cycle was recorded in Philadelphia, Vienna, Tokyo, São Paolo, Melbourne, Nairobi, and finally Paris. CD buyers get a combination of travelogue and set of work descriptions, but it's not clear that the performances were influenced in any way by the globetrotting. This is, however, a very strong Beethoven set, with full-blooded performances perhaps unexpected from a group that made its name with French quartet music. Credit, first of all, goes to mastering engineer Fabrice Planchat, who followed the group around the world with a portable studio, recording, according to the ambiguous note, "live and in rehearsal" (there is no audience noise). The sound retains some of its original characteristics, including in an acoustically inferior Alliance Française Auditorium in Nairobi, but is stitched together into a coherent whole. The Quatuor Ébène generally offers high-intensity readings that relax at times into passages of passionate rather than delicate lyricism. In the String Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 131, the Allegro molto vivace of the second movement may seem to leave no room for the Presto of the fifth, but the group makes it happen. The late quartets as a whole are extremely compelling, with the group catching the odd mixture of comedy and existential dread in the String Quartet No. 16 in F major, Op. 135, and delivering a heartfelt "prayer of thanks of one who has recovered to the Godhead" in the slow movement of the String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132. An unusual feature among the late quartets is that the String Quartet No. 13 in B flat major, Op. 130, concludes with the Grosse Fuge, Op. 133, the work's original finale, rather than the finale on which Beethoven eventually settled. The early quartets get weighty readings that place them at the forefront of Beethoven's stylistic development rather than in Haydn's orbit; listen to the alternatively lovely and grim "La Malinconia" finale of the String Quartet No. 6 in B flat major, Op. 18. No. 6. Curiously, two of the three Op. 59 "Razumovsky" quartets are placed together on a single disc rather than being evenly distributed, but these too follow the pattern of fast tempos and high-energy readings. It may be that the Quatuor Ébène did not need to travel the globe to accomplish this, but the group's Beethoven cycle compels attention. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 31, 2020 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Many of us may have set goals for the new year, but harmonia mundi set theirs particularly high. The independent record label intends on killing two birds with one stone by launching an extensive Beethoven edition that spans from 2020 (one hundred and fifty years since his birth) to 2027 (the bicentenary of his death), in a series of new recordings by new musicians under the label. For years to come, this non-exhaustive edition will be a reflection of the interpretative trends from the 21st century. This first volume of the Complete Piano Concertos on period instruments (there will be another on modern instruments) brings together the two extremes of Beethoven’s repertoire, namely Concertos No. 2 and No. 5, the former of which was composed first. Kristian Bezuidenhout’s exceptional musicality renders the dispute over instrument manufacturing seemingly artificial and fruitless, as he is at ease playing both early and modern pianos. After an inspired performance of Mozart’s complete Sonatas, we follow him as he journeys through the Beethoven Concertos, working closely with the Freiburg Barockorchester ensemble, for whom Bezuidenhout and Gottfried von der Goltz have been in charge of artistic direction since 2017-2018. This may not be a ground-breaking endeavour but what sets it apart is the meticulous attention to detail from Kristian Bezuidenhout and conductor Pablo Heras-Casado with regards to articulations and dynamics. The same can also be said for their choice of cadenzas, which the pianist often reinterprets using the same instrument for the complete work, resulting in a modern rendition played on a Viennese Conrad Graf piano dating from 1824. Confronted with musical practices from the end of the 18th century, the music of young Beethoven comes alive as never before. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released October 16, 2015 | Evidence

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Record of the Month
This is the third instalment in François-Frédéric Guy’s traversal of Beethoven and the first to delve into the chamber music. He is well matched in intellect, musicianship and temperament by cellist Xavier Phillips as they journey from the ridiculous (the Variations on ‘See the Conqu’ring Hero Comes’, in which Guy dispatches the virtuoso piano part with complete aplomb, to delectable effect) to the sublime (the Op 102 Sonatas). The two sets of variations on themes from Mozart’s Magic Flute are a very different proposition from the ‘Conqu’ring Hero’ but just as persuasive, with the Op 66 set given a particularly sparkling reading. Competition is of course thick on the ground, not least from Isserlis and Levin (playing a tremendously characterful McNulty fortepiano), which was an obvious choice for Record of the Month in February 2014. But Phillips and Guy deserve that accolade just as richly and their utterly different sound world is equally riveting.
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Classical - Released May 27, 2016 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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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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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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Classical - Released April 17, 2020 | Edel Kultur

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It is surely proof a great dedication that an American-born Swedish conductor would, in the mid-1970s, go behind the Iron Curtain in order to take up a post as principal conductor of an orchestra. Both the conductor and orchestra have fond memories of Herbert Blomstedt's Dresden years, from 1975 to 1985. The recordings of all of Beethoven's symphonies conducted by Blomstedt are proof of an intensive and artistically outstanding collaboration. © Berlin Classics
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Classical - Released August 25, 2009 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Award
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Classical - Released April 1, 2012 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released February 21, 2020 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Distinctions Choc de Classica
Maurizio Pollini revisits Beethoven’s final three sonatas (Op. 109 to 111), forty years after recording the very same score for the first time, a score which sees the composer elevate the genre to dizzying levels of expertise. The Italian pianist explains that ever since January 1977 (the first time he recorded No. 32, Nos. 30 and 31 dating even further back to June 1975), he has continuously discovered an infinite number of details within the material and the structure over the course of the multiple times he has performed the three sonatas. Beethoven strays away from the conventions of the traditional sonata with these, something he had been doing since his Opus 27 (Quasi una fantasia, Moonlight), inserting various astonishing shapes. Thus, variation (Op. 109, Arietta of the Op. 111) and fugue (Op. 110, after that of the Opus 101) assume an innovative importance here, much like other unrestricted episodes where Beethoven appears to be expressing very personal emotions, initiating the Romantic era, where subjectivity reigns over structure. Recorded in concert, Maurizio Pollini brings a surprising amount of urgency (Op. 109) and lyricism (Op. 110) to this release that ensures its place as one of the best Pollini recitals in recent years (Beethoven, Debussy, Chopin). A must-listen. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz