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.
Actually, there is a considerable amount of available versions in the market. But just a few possess the radiant sense of expression of Beethovenian pathos. Many connoted interpreters mistakenly play Beethoven just remarking the Romantic mood, without going deep inside the score, and overlooking the fact the genius simply cannot be labeled.
The three very popular Beethoven Sonatas collected in this recording showcased Lubimov's keen sense of interpretation and diabolical keyboard facility. The `Moonlight' and `Waldstein' are nothing short of heart-stopping performances, yet at the same time the musical contents of the pieces conveyed in entirely convincing authenticity. Even in the less demanding `Pathetique', Lubimov paints a vivid picture in terms of fully articulated emotional nuances and musical atmosphere, some thing of which he is among the most polished among pianists. Highly poetic performances. Heartily recommended.
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.
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.
One of the great cycles. Of the hundred or so available recorded cycles (out of about one hundred and fifteen or so), this rates as one of the best. In better sound than either the DG stereo cycle and the live King International cycle, Kempff's style is more poetic and less intense and fiery than others. Whatever Kempff may give away in terms of speed, power, and precision, he makes up for in other ways