Granted, there are better individual performances of the various symphonies from conductors as diverse as Eugen Jochum, Leonard Bernstein, Trevor Pinnock, and Thomas Fey; but when all is said and done this remains the finest complete set of Haydn symphonies yet recorded, and its basic musicality only seems to grow more impressive over time.
Although apart from Nos. 3 and 4 Mendelssohn’s Symphonies turn up surprisingly rarely in concert programmes there are now many complete recordings from which the collector can choose. For anyone with a special interest in the composer the chance to compare the approaches of, say, Karajan, Abbado, Sawallisch and Masur may well be irresistible, and when versions by other distinguished conductors who have recorded only individual Symphonies, including Toscanini, Norrington and Gardiner, are added the choices seem endless.
Though close to each other in date, the two works on this disc, which are the last in which Beethoven wrote for piano and orchestra together, are in other respects quite dissimilar. The Emperor is a standard piano concerto or so it seems to us, because it was uniquely influential in defining the form for the next 100 years. To its first audiences it must have seemed highly individual, and even idiosyncratic. The Choral Fantasy, on the other hand, appears to us an unorthodox, even unique conception, much freer in form, as befits the title fantasy which Beethoven chose for it. Yet both are entirely characteristic of the composer in their deployment of a structure that served the purposes of the content of the work itself to its greatest advantage. Concluding the Complete Orchestral Works of Beethoven, this vol. 12 finds Thomas Dausgaard, Boris Berezovsky and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra on top form.
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.
The soloists step into the light again for this fifth release in the Simax-series with the complete orchestral music of Beethoven. After the wonderful reception of piano concertos 1 and 2 (PSC 1181) its now time for concerto no.3, with Berezovsky on exceptional form. Plus a stunning rendering of the Triple concerto. Dausgaard leads with a sensitive ear to the poetry and somewhat melancoly expression found in both these concertos, engaging the orchestra in "chamber musical" ensemble with the soloists. But there are massive outbursts as well, in sparkling performance!
Volume 3 in the series with the complete orchestral works of Ludwig van Beethoven is ready from the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and its music director since 1997, Thomas Dausgaard. The piano concertos are true gems of the classical canon, as Beethoven was an expert both in the art of writing for the orchestra and himself a master pianist. Russian pianist Boris Beresovsky (b.1969) is such a wizard. At the age of 21 he won the Gold Medal at the 1990 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. It is a privilege to hear how the combination Berezovsky and Dausgaard/SwCO really hit it of in this music. They are enjoying themselves, surprising each other, challenging and courteous at the same time. The sounding result speaks for itself.
Conductor Philippe Herreweghe returns to the helm of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic for another set of Beethoven symphonies on the PentaTone label, this time the First and Third. Again presented as a multi-channel SACD hybrid disc, PentaTone's sound is clean and detailed without too much digital sterility. Unlike the album that included the Fifth Symphony and was fraught with many rhythmic peculiarities, Herreweghe's reading of the First and Third symphonies seems diligently respectful to every nuance of the score.
Mikhail Pletnev is a brilliant musician, an amazing pianist and an idiosyncratic conductor, and he has made a glorious mess of the Beethoven symphonies. The seesawing of tempos in this compelling, driving and sometimes shocking set induce now motion sickness, now awe . . . it demands to be heard.
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times / 30. November 2007