Beethoven was a revolutionary man living in a revolutionary time. He captured his inner voice—demons and all—and the spirit of his time, and in doing so, created a body of music the likes of which no one had ever before imagined. "An artist must never stand still," he once said. A virtuoso at the keyboard, Beethoven used the piano as his personal musical laboratory, and the piano sonata became, more than any other genre of music, a place where he could experiment with harmony, motivic development, the contextual use of form, and, most important, his developing view of music as a self-expressive art.
With the Berliner Philharmoniker under Herbert von Karajan, Beethoven's Seventh Symphony resounds with melodic force, the Eighth is a masterful blend of grace and wit, and the Ninth - directed by Karajan himself - is a vital and explicitly dramatic reading of Beethoven's revolutionary work.
The art of conducting was certainly imbued in Carlos Kleiber's whole persona and these magnificent performances of Beethoven's Fourth and Seventh symphonies find him on home ground with the excellent Concertgebouw Orchestra. Recorded in 1983, these concerts are a final testament to the art of great symphonic conducting and should definitely be in every serious music lover's collection.
"Symphony No.2 gets a performance of tremendous power and energy … The Vienna Seventh never lets us forget the Bacchanalian symbolism of a work its creator claimed would make mankind spiritually drunken! Bernstein makes it so." - ClassicsToday.com
Angela Hewitt is rapidly establishing herself as one of the great pianists of our age, her concert career expanding as rapidly as her discography, so it seems only right that, following her success in tackling one of the pillars of classical music in Bach, she should tackle another in Beethoven. This volume commences a survey of Beethoven sonatas which will couple the well known, in this case the ‘Appassionata’, with the comparatively neglected, here the grandest of Beethoven’s early sonatas, his Op 7. The disc is completed with a superb performance of Op 10/3, one of the early sonatas where Beethoven can be seen breaking the bounds of convention to create the style which would define the great works of his middle period.
Starting the second half of our great Beethoven series, Boris Berezovsky returns with the Fourth Piano Concerto and Beethoven's own version of the Violin Concerto arranged with the piano as the solo instrument. Boris's earlier contributions to the series have been very well received indeed, and the Russian virtuoso has more up his sleeve. The works on this seventh volume in this series originates from a particularly fruitful time in Beethoven"s career as a composer, around the same time as his fourth and fifth symphony and the Razumovsky quartets. He continues to expand the formal boundaries for the concerto, and the result is of course some of the most fantastic music ever written.
This DVD ends the series with symphonies Nos. 4 and 7, recorded live at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome in February 2001. As a special feature, it offers the multi-angle “Conductor Camera” in the latter symphony which shows the maestro from the perspective of the musicians. And as a further bonus it also comprises the half-hour interview film “Abbado on Beethoven”. Each of the symphonies is a masterpiece in itself – they are all quite different, each representing the composer’s musical idiom at a particular stage in his development. The Symphony No. 4 was written in 1806 and – although musically strong – counts among the lesser played of Beethoven's symphonies. The Symphony No. 7 was premiered 1813 and is regarded to identify a new stage in Beethoven’s composing as classical elements intertwine with romantic ones.