If you're looking for a set of all nine Beethoven symphonies, this one is pretty hard to beat. It's the most consistently fine interpretively, as well as supremely well played and gorgeously recorded.David Hurwitz
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
60 CD box set. Selection of Ludwig Van Beethoven works recorded by David Zinman & Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich (Symphonies), Yefim Bronfman, David Zinman & tonhalle Orchestra Zurich (Piano concertos), Pinchas Zuckerman & Marc Neikrug (Violin Sonatas), Anner Bylsma & Jon Van Immerseel (Cello Sonatas), Seraphin Trio (Piano Trios), Alexander String Quartet (String Quartets), Yukio Yokoyama, Robert Casadesus, Justus Frantz, Vladimir Horowitz, Gerhard Oppitz & Charles Rosen (Piano Sonatas), Eugene Ormandy & Philadelphia Orchestra (Christ On The Mount Of Olives), Wolfdieter Maurer & Tokyo Oratorio Society (Mass in C Major), David Zinman & Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich (Missa Solemnis) and many other great artists.
Claudio Arrau was past his prime when, in the mid-1980s, he offered these final thoughts on the late sonatas, but he was still a sovereign interpreter, with a sense of line and grasp of form few other exponents of this music have possessed in comparable degree. Where an interpreter like Pollini emphasizes the energy in Beethoven’s writing for the piano, Arrau conveys its mass, giving these sonatas a symphonic treatment.
Five Piano Concertos and the Piano Sonata No. 32, opus 111, recorded in stereo in 1962 and 1964, respectively, by Wilhelm Kempff [1895-1991] and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Ferdinand Leitner [1912-96]. The sonata, the composer’s last, is certainly more than a mere filler, from the opening hesitancy of the ‘Allegro con brio ed appassionato’ to the extended closing section of the second movement.
These classic recordings need little comment from me on artistic grounds. Heifetz's account of the Mendelssohn never has been bettered for sheer dazzling virtuosity, and although the Beethoven is more controversial (some find it "cold"), I love its unaffected, truly classical purity. Besides, you also get Munch and the Boston Symphony, no mean bonus. It's interesting to compare the two performances in multichannel sound, since the Beethoven is two-track, while the Mendelssohn offers three.
All are equal before the work, before the mysteries of a score; this was Claudio Abbados heart-felt conviction. For him, the willingness to be open to one another and to the independent life of musical processes was the only prerequisite for making music. In the live performances documented here for the first time, Abbado could be sure of the devotion of these world-class artists: the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, the sopranos Christine Schäfer and Juliane Banse, as well as the actor Bruno Ganz. They shared his credo of listening togetherness (Die ZEIT) that made possible those precious moments of musical truth toward which this great conductor strove throughout his life.
With his very own “mysterious seductive power and legendary elegance” (Le Monde), Claudio Abbado opened for the last time the LUCERNE FESTIVAL in the summer of 2013. Only a few months later, the world had to bid farewell to a monumental artist, humanist, great conductor and orchestra founder. Even in the concert itself, documented here, lived a moment of farewell, as the three great works performed tell of the transience of life. The centerpiece of the Eroica is the funeral march revealing “abysses of shattering dimension” - an “intense experience” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung). This record, the last audio-visual documentation of his work, captures once again the extraordinary atmosphere of “vibrant emotionality” that always emerged when Abbado created music with his “orchestra of friends”.