Kings Place, London
Ludwig Van Beethoven
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Sunday 28 December 2008
Among the operatic high notes of 2008 was the notion that small is beautiful. Netia Jones's thrifty multi-media Acis and Galatea, sung to single strings under Christian Curnyn in Wilton's Music Hall, was beguiling, and Jo Davies directed an enchanting Cunning Little Vixen for the Royal College of Music.
Friday 28 November 2008
Having been troubled again in recent years by the hand problem that originated in the 1990s when a bone abnormality on his thumb required a series of career-threatening operations, Murray Perahia has lost no time in recording whenever fit enough. He released his acclaimed album of Bach Partitas in early summer, now followed by his interpretations of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Nos 9, 10, 12 and 15, an unusual grouping that presumably represents the first instalment of his planned Urtext edition of the complete sonata series.
Sunday 23 November 2008
Few pianists have been as slow to tackle Beethoven as Murray Perahia. Subtle, elegant and unconventional, this performance of Nos 9, 10, 12 and 15 is only the third disc of Beethoven Sonatas in Perahia's career, and comes after a 13 year gap.
Thursday 20 November 2008
We'll be hearing a lot more of Boris Giltburg.
Tuesday 09 September 2008
An Australian musicologist has discovered what he believes to be the last piano work written by Beethoven.
Wednesday 03 September 2008
First of the pan-Continental youth orchestras to recruit from new and old Europe, its results were magnificent as usual, in a quirky pairing of what may have been the slowest Beethoven Violin Concerto in living memory with the fastest Sibelius Symphony No 2.
Sunday 20 July 2008
Claudio Abbado's 2001 performances in Rome with the Berliner Philharmoniker has made it into a boxed-set with a re-edited version of their Berlin recording of No 9.
Tuesday 01 July 2008
So farewell, then... the classical music world has witnessed the last solo performance by a Titan. Alfred Brendel, who has commanded the field in Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert since his emergence in the Sixties, chose works by those three composers plus Mozart to bow out on: the music of Habsburg Vienna, which he has made his own.
Thursday 19 June 2008
Two enigmatic string quartets: Schubert's A minor "Rosamunde" (1824), with its ambiguous, ever-shifting mood changes between minor and major, plaintive and insouciant; and Beethoven's vast, late C sharp minor (1825-6), with its continuous unfolding of no less than seven oddly assorted movements, adding up to – what exactly?
Saturday 14 June 2008
Get ready for a rush on sales of gold-leaf paint. Gustav Klimt: Painting, Design and Modern Life in Vienna 1900, which has just opened at Tate Liverpool, has a fabulous lineup of Klimt's paintings, alongside furniture and artefacts by his contemporaries. It also offers a fascinating glimpse into life in fin de siècle Vienna. But for the authentic Gustav Klimt experience, nothing beats a visit to the city itself.
Tuesday 29 April 2008
At this wonderful concert, a packed Royal Festival Hall was treated to a slide-rule performance of a programme that could have been a run-of-the-mill outing for well-tried orchestral standards. Instead, we were witness to an exemplary interpretation of Mendelssohn's Fourth Symphony, in which Christoph von Dohnyáni conducted the sublime Philharmonia through a sure-footed and delightfully witty reading with a lightness of touch exemplified by his economical gestures. The tempi were brisk, which could have wrong- footed the woodwind, but they were more than equal to the task.
Wednesday 16 April 2008
Stephen Kovacevich, with the London Mozart Players, continued his Beethoven cycle with an impressive performance of two symphonies. The programme opened with the vibrant Egmont Overture, yielding triumphant highs and poignant lows. Silence was handled like a dangerous dog on a tight leash, and the instrumental skill expressed restrained desire, heightening the heroic and tragic elements of the piece.
Friday 28 March 2008
The Brodsky Quartet has been around for some time, 30 years according to the programme book. But what one is not told is how many changes of personnel there have been while the group still performs under the same name. Certainly, something felt not right about the quartet's playing at this concert, as if the first violinist, Daniel Rowland, who joined the quartet in July 2007, was in another world from his colleagues.
Album: Beethoven, Symphony No 3 – Eroica – Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra/Manze (AHarmonia Mundi)
Sunday 16 March 2008
Some slippery moments in the opening and closing movements do little to detract from this reading of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony from Andrew Manze and the Helsingborg SO. This is Manze's debut recording as a conductor and though the attack is occasionally clumsy, he succeeds in making the music new. Radical rubato, violent coups d'archets, beautiful woodwind detailing, and a strikingly slow "Marche funèbre" contribute to a sense of freshness and dynamism, while the "12 Contretänze" and the finale of "Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus" illustrate how one modest melody ignited a music revolution.
Thursday 13 March 2008
It's a brave pianist who makes Grieg the climax of a sequence taking in Bach and Beethoven. Leif Ove Andsnes upped the stakes further by championing Grieg's Ballade in G minor, which features in his current recordings and recital tours but is otherwise rarely heard. A sophisticated fusion of variation form, dance character and lyric tragedy, it emerged at the end of Andsnes's first half – or, at least, he was able to make us hear it – as a discovery to rank with Glenn Gould's championing of the equally wondrous Variations Chromatiques de Concert of Bizet.
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