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The hotel on the other side of Lake Geneva cashed in on the delicious shamelessness of it. They hired out binoculars so that tourists could gawp pruriently at the Villa Diodati and its scandalous summer menage of the Shelleys; the "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" Byron, and Claire Clairmont, Mary Shelley's half-sister, who had slept with both poets and was carrying Byron's baby.
Recorded live at last year's Lucerne Festival, Claudio Abbado's Fidelio is as compelling as it is beautiful.
Johann Rufinatscha slipped into obscurity a decade before his death.
In the 17 years since Frans Brüggen completed his still-thrilling Beethoven Cycle, the most vivid recordings have been period-modern hybrids.
My parents were ... smilers and Quakers. My mum was a physiotherapist, and my dad's a silversmith and blacksmith; they met at a peace camp in Germany after the war. My mum's German and moved to the UK to be with my dad.
To play one Beethoven piano concerto at the Proms looks like good fortune (as Oscar Wilde could have said, had he known), but to perform all five is – well, another matter altogether, especially with four different orchestras and conductors. Such is the task facing Paul Lewis, 38, who's almost certainly the best-loved British pianist of his vintage.
Four orchestras feature in Paul Lewis's forthcoming Proms Cycle of Beethoven's Piano Concertos, but just one plays in this box set, with mixed results.
Recorded in Grenoble, Vichy and Paris, Emanuel Krivine's Beethoven dazzles with closely mic-ed details. La Chambre Philharmonique's bassoons are the unlikely stars, jostled out of the way by heaven-sent strings in the Adagio, and an almost comically hyperactive contrabassoon in the finale. Les Eléments deliver a lithe, moving account of Goethe's Ode, with a suave introduction from bass soloist Konstantin Wolff.Too much technical trickery to be properly "live", perhaps. But what a refreshing, bold reading.
The Roundhouse is more famous for rock than symphonies, but it could be just the venue to build up a young classical fanbase, says Jessica Duchen
The weighty refinement ofmodern instruments andthe incisive articulation ofhistorical performancepractice combine tothrilling effect in DouglasBoyd's live recording ofBeethoven's 1st and 3rdsymphonies withManchester Camerata.Perceptively detailed, No 1has a suspenseful, playfulmenuetto and a searingfinale. After the ecstaticbirth pangs of the 3rd'smarcia funebre, you canhear Mozart leaving thestage as a new music isborn: bold, lithe and noble.An exhilarating addition tothe catalogue of Beethovencycles.
The 22nd album by Sparks – never ones to do things the easy way – is a biopic in opera form of a legendary Swedish art-house director, with a cast of actor-singers augmenting Russell Mael’s vocals, and a complete orchestra backing Ron’s luxurious pianos. It’s a genre and format to which the brothers, whose work is so often described as “operatic”, are immaculately suited.
Chilling villain is cold comfort
The Haydn season kicked off with the obligatory splurge on Radio 3, and a massed charge led by Andras Schiff at the Wigmore Hall, but the really interesting thing was what the musicologist and fortepianist Robert Levin was doing at the Southbank. We quite often hear the fortepiano in these period-conscious days, but, sandwiched between performances on modern instruments, it always ends up sounding thin and a little bit impotent – so attuned are our ears to the luxurious richness of the Steinway.
One might have expected a better turn-out for Sir Roger's 75th-birthday bash, especially since the highly eclectic programme – spanning some three centuries of music – contained a little bit of something for everyone. But maybe the Classic FM approach was unwise for an event of this kind, and maybe Norrington himself is still too much of a connoisseur's delight, too much of a maverick, ever to pull in the big crowds. And that's quite an irony, given that there are few more erudite, entertaining, communicative, or influential musicians on the planet. He is, in every sense, a one-off.
There is something monumental about John Mark Ainsley's Beethoven – a heroic seriousness that suggests that even in the briefest of 'Lieder', or the most carefree 'Gesänge', the composer was writing for posterity.