Bernstein delivered a powerful and now legendary live performance of Beethovens String Quartet Op. 135 transcribed for String Orchestra and performed by the Vienna Philharmonic. For the first time ever this performance is now being released on DVD and Blu-ray. Another definitive Bernstein performance debuting now on both mediums is the enigmatic maestros reading of Haydns Missa in tempore belli, filmed live in concert at Ottobeuren in 1984, using to maximum effect the deeply impressive setting of the monasterys magnificent Baroque basilica.
Writing in 29:4 about the Hagen’s fine CD accounts of Beethoven Quartets Nos. 12 and 15, I noted two salient features of its approach: a sonority that in its freedom from lushness and excessive vibrato echoes (without duplicating) “period” sonority; and a style suggestive of how the music is far closer to the composer’s middle period than we often think. In a similar vein, this is a tough, aggressive No. 16, yet one tempered by delicacy where apt and projected with sensitivity to the music’s pointed humor—a performance style that one probably was not likely to encounter 50 years ago. And fine though the Beethoven is, the Mozart may be even better, as commanding and sensitive account of the work as I have ever heard. For one thing, Sabine Meyer is superb, a true virtuoso who is capable of rendering the music’s gentler moments with a tender delicacy that is as arresting as her rapidly articulated runs in which every note is given its clearly articulated due.
As a viola player and dedicated chamber musician, Sally Beamish has had ample opportunity to acquaint herself with the string quartet genre. The Beethoven C minor Quartet on this disc she first played when she was 14. Thirty years later, when commissioned by the Brodsky Quartet to write a work inspired by Beethoven's Op. 18, this is the one that caught her imagination. The result is String Quartet No.2, composed immediately after a visit to California in 2000. Inspired by two bridges – Golden Gate in San Francisco and a Californian rock formation called Natural Bridges – Beamish uses themes …….
The Beethoven quartets have always been at the cote of the Emerson Quartet's repertoire, and over the years it has honed its playing of these works to a fine degree. Here in this new set we encounter exaltation, immaculate playing and ensemble precision of awesome proportions (typically, first and second violinists often swap their roles). The Emerson is perhaps the best rehearsed quartet of our century. The playing is not only flawless technically, but reflects a careful study of the music, both formally and in the players' intense preoccupation with textual matters. The recording of this set is also spectacular.
”… an outstanding project of landmark proportions…MDG has produced an excellent warm, intimate, life-sized recording. The composer provides his customarily thorough and enlightening notes … Highly recommended.” (Fanfare)
Charles Edward Ives (October 20, 1874 – May 19, 1954) was an American modernist composer. He is one of the first American composers of international renown, though his music was largely ignored during his life, and many of his works went unperformed for many years. Over time, he came to be regarded as an "American original". Ives combined the American popular and church-music traditions of his youth with European art music, and was among the first composers to engage in a systematic program of experimental music, with musical techniques including polytonality, polyrhythm, tone clusters, aleatoric elements, and quarter tones, foreshadowing many musical innovations of the 20th century…
"…But in its elegant and precise way the Utrecht have made a fine start in their welcome cycle." ~musicweb-international
"The virtuosity and unanimity of the VPO strings command the highest respect. The grave opening fugue, the brilliant scherzo and the impassioned finale sound terrific … a fabulous disc." - Gramophone