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…
None of Liszt's ingenuous Beethoven symphony transcriptions had been recorded when Glenn Gould charted virgin territory in 1967 with the Fifth. Not only does Gould take Liszt's prodigious technical demands in stride, he also turns in what may be his best Beethoven playing on record. The pianist brings a kind of rhythmic acuity to the outer movements that makes many orchestral versions seem tame in comparison, even those with faster tempos. Gould's genius for sustaining tension at slow tempos is fully revealed in the second movement, in which each phrase is timed to a T. The first movement of the Pastorale flows more assuredly and accurately than in Gould's CBC Radio performance of the entire transcription. It's a pity Gould abandoned his plans to record the entire cycle.
When the New York Philharmonic fired conductor Artur Rodzinski in 1946, Leopold Stokowski saw an opportunity – he had long desired the post of principal conductor in New York and went to work trying to obtain it. From 1947 to 1950, Stokowski made himself available to New York on an on-call basis, conducting children’s concerts, fill in concerts for other conductors, anything that New York would assign to him, remaining visible until the long process of choosing a music director was finished. Alas, it became clear by early 1950 that Stokowski was not going to be New York’s choice for the position, awarded instead to Dimitri Mitropoulos.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is a cultural ambassador for Israel, and is regarded as one of the best orchestras in the world. Recorded in the Mann Auditorium, Tel Aviv in March 2010, this concert sees the Israel Philharmonic conducted in this all-Beethoven programme by the eminent conductor and violinist Itzhak Perlman. After the Egmont Overture, Perlman and the orchestra are joined by the Perlman/Schmidt/Bailey Trio for the beautiful ‘Triple’ Concerto. The programme concludes with the rousing and evocative ‘Pastoral’ Symphony.
Walter Murphy's "A Fifth of Beethoven" put classical disco on the map. It helped that Beethoven's symphony had a heavy percussion feel, which Murphy cranked up a couple of notches with his amazing ingenuity. Other selections, while creatively different, are just as good, but didn't burn a hole in the charts like "Fifth." "Suite Love Symphony," "Flight '76," "California Strut," and "Russian Dressing" will expand your mind and quench your musical thirst at the same time. "Midnight Express" is fine European boogie, while the horn-laden "Get a Little Lovin'" is a funky thing. It's always a nice trick when artists can define a genre with a single song, and Murphy did that. Even better when they can follow it up with an album that expands on that song's charms and delivers a satisfying listening experience.