Celebrating the 175th Anniversary of the New York Philharmonic, America’s oldest symphony orchestra. 65 CDs of famous New York Philharmonic performances conducted by many of its most renowned music directors, from the very first recording in 1917 up to 1995.
Now many of the world’s most serious and significant pianists (Schnabel, Serkin, Brendel, Goode, etc.) have devoted a great deal of thoughtful study to the Beethoven sonatas; in general, performance of this music represents a level of erudition and deep contemplation probably unequaled by the works of any other mainstream composer. Serious pianists study every aspect of these works in minute detail; virtually everything is taken into account except those instruments which inspired Beethoven, and which he had in mind when he composed.
Between his birth in New York on 22 April 1916 and his death in Berlin on 12 March 1999, Yehudi Menuhin, the son of humble Russian immigrants, grew from a brilliant child prodigy violinist, who made his public concert début in San Francisco in 1924, aged just 7, into not just one of the 20th century s finest and most celebrated artists (as a conductor as well as a soloist), but also a peace campaigner, civil rights activist, spiritual guru and revered senior statesman of the musical world, who ended his days as the Right Honourable the Lord Menuhin of Stoke d Abernon, with a seat in the House of Lords, yet also found time to establish two music schools, a violin competition and an international scheme for taking music out of the concert hall and into the wider community.
Rudolf Serkin's 1964 recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto in C minor is surely among the greatest recordings of the work ever made, and certainly his finest performance of the work. The energy and enthusiasm and even passion he brings to Concerto in C minor is overwhelming, and indeed, it overwhelms Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, who accompany Serkin with the sort of commitment that only a conductor and orchestra give to soloists when they are deeply inspired. But while Serkin's 1962 recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto in E flat major is also surely among the greatest recordings of the work ever made, it is not quite Serkin's finest recording of the work.
Stereo recordings from the early 1960s. Everyone has sentimental favorites, and this set is one of mine. Yes, the ensemble has a few rough spots now and again—nothing serious—but the playing has such warmth and emotional generosity, that bigness of spirit that’s so often forgotten in today’s Beethoven performances. The Budapest Quartet clearly frames its view of the composer in terms of the great, late quartets. So Op. 18, cultured and intelligent thought it is, could do perhaps with a touch more energy in spots, a leaner basic sonority. But once we hit the great middle quartets it’s smooth sailing right through to the end.
"…I will treasure this set until the end of my days, and hope others will attain the same joy from it after I am gone." ~SA-CD.net