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
Beethoven's String Quartets are well known for their inventiveness. The mold of the string quartet form, established by Haydn, was shattered by Beethoven's profound expression and expansion of the "rules." Between 1999 and 2003, the renowned Pražák Quartet recorded all of the Beethoven string quartets, and this match of program and performers is one made in heaven.
The Quartet's repertoire was centered on the Viennese classics, but with a serious emphasis on the 20th century. It was the stated goal of the quartet to include at least one modern work in each performance. Their repertoire spanned from Early Classicism, Romanticism, to the Second Viennese School (Berg, Schoenberg, Webern), Bartуk and embraced many contemporary composers. This took expression not the least in personal statements by composers like Witold Lutoslawski and Luciano Berio, of whom the former said: "Personally I am indebted to the Alban Berg Quartet for an unforgettable event. Last year in Vienna, they played my quartet in a way such as will never be likely equaled."
A must-have for collectors of sublime historical recordings, this re-release of Fournier and Gulda's 1960 recording is equally appropriate for listeners seeking their first recording of Beethoven's works for cello and piano. Fournier's commitment to the exploration of the Beethoven sonatas and variations is clear; he made three complete recordings of the works over the course of his career – the first with Artur Schnabel in 1947, this one with Friedrich Gulda in 1960, and finally with pianist Wilhelm Kempff in 1965.
For the casual listener, there are two impediments to enjoying this disc. First, the works are transcriptions of orchestral works for chamber ensembles, and second, both transcriptions are played on a light-toned fortepiano and cat-gutted stringed instruments. But for the dedicated listener who knows and loves Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 and Piano Concerto No. 4 and who accepts and enjoys period instruments, this disc will be pure enjoyment.
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best-known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, his great Mass the Missa solemnis, and one opera, Fidelio…