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Top 10 recent Beethoven recordings

Gramophone Thu 16th April 2015

Ten of the best Beethoven recordings recently reviewed in the pages of Gramophone

Top 10 recent recordings - Beethoven

The following list of 10 recordings represent the most highly-regarded new Beethoven releases. All of the recordings were selected as Editor's Choice or Recording of the Month in GramophoneYou can read the original Gramophone reviews by following the links and listen to many of the albums in the following Qobuz playlist:

No 1

Beethoven The Symphonies and Reflections 

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Mariss Jansons
(BR Klassik)

'This is an exceptional realisation of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, one of those rare occasions when one is left with a feeling of having been in the presence of the thing itself.' Read review.

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No 2

Beethoven Cello Sonatas 

Steven Isserlis (vc) / Robert Levin (fp)
(Hyperion)

'A cellist who tends towards inversion; a fortepianist who tends the other way. Put them together and something magical happens within the tensions they engender.' Read review.

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No 3

Beethoven Piano Concertos Nos 3 & 4  

Maria João Pires (pf); Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Daniel Harding 
(Onyx)

'Even with a never-ending stream of Beethoven piano concerto recordings, whether from established masters or works in progress, few performances come within distance of Pires’s Classical/Romantic perspective.' Read review.

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No 4

Beethoven Complete Piano Sonatas Vol 2, Nos 11 - 21  

Jean Efflam Bavouzet (pf)
(Chandos)

'My impressions of Bavouzet are of his selfless concentration, understanding, boundless musical energy, and in everything offered his command of timing and of the glorious variety and drama of these compositions.' Read review.

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No 5

Beethoven Complete String Quartets Vol 1

Elias String Quartet
(Wigmore Hall Live)

'For all the boldness of both the dots and their execution, the Elias Quartet observe a certain Classical propriety which does not domesticate Beethoven’s more feral inspirations but places his innovation in its proper context.' Read review.

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No 6

Beethoven Missa Solemnis  

Monteverdi Choir; Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique / John Eliot Gardiner
(Soli Deo Gloria)

'Such is the visceral intensity of the music-making, a certain girding of the loins may be required before a second hearing, but isn’t that precisely how it should be with a work of this power and magnitude?' Read review.

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No 7 

Beethoven Piano Concerto No 5, Choral Fantasy 

Prague Philharmonic Choir; Mahler Chamber Orchestra / Leif Ove Andsnes 
(Sony)

'The unanimity in the closing bars between Andsnes and his orchestra says it all. Having used up my stash of superlatives, all I can say is: go buy.' Read review.

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No 8

Beethoven Diabelli Variations 

András Schiff (pf)
(ECM New Series)

'I’ve been convinced of the success with which pianist and both instruments inhabit everything undertaken here and meet its challenges. It’s an impressive achievement.' Read review.

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No 9

Beethoven Piano Sonatas Nos 14 & 29

Alessio Bax (pf)
(Signum)

'Even when compared to legendary performances of this sonata (Kempff, Richter, Gilels, Brendel, etc), this performance stands its ground in music to test the technique and intellect of even the greatest pianists.' Read review.

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No 10

Beethoven Complete Cello Sonatas and Variations

Matt Haimovitz (vc) / Christopher O'Riley (fp)
(Pentatone)

'Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley play the living daylights out of these works. They lap up Beethoven’s combative style like hungry lions anticipating raw steak.' Read review.

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Top 10 piano concertos

Gramophone Tue 15th April 2014

The top 10 piano concertos – from Mozart to Rachmaninov – with highly recommended recordings

Top 10 piano concertos

One of the richest corners of the repertoire (and one of the most popular) in which a solo piano is pitted against the orchestra – with invariably thrilling results. Mozart may have lifted the piano concerto into the modern age, but in the hands of the great Romantic masters it became a form for expression of colossal variety. Here are 10 of the greatest of all piano concertos.

No 1

Mozart Piano Concerto No 27

Andreas Staier (pf) Freiburg Baroque Orchestra / Gottfried von der Goltz

'A controversial point in the keyboard...' Read review

 

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No 2

Beethoven Piano Concerto No 5

Paul Lewis (pf) BBC Symphony Orchestra / Jiří Bělohlávek

'Lewis’s first entry in the Adagio has a slight catch...' Read review

 

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No 3

Brahms Piano Concerto No 1

Nelson Freire (pf) Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly

'This is the Brahms piano concerto set we’ve been waiting for...' Read review

 

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No 4

Schumann Piano Concerto

Leif Ove Andsnes (pf) BPO / Mariss Jansons

'I particularly like the free-flowing tempo for the central Andantino...' Read review

 

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No 5

Grieg Piano Concerto

Leif Ove Andsnes (pf) BPO / Mariss Jansons

'However many times he has performed the Grieg, Andsnes retains a freshness and expressiveness...' Read review

 

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No 6

Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 1

Martha Argerich (pf) BPO / Claudio Abbado

'Lyrical and insinuating, to a degree her performance seems to be made of the...' Read review

 

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No 7

Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 3

Martha Argerich (pf) BPO / Claudio Abbado

'There have been others to match the bustle and brilliance of Argerich's...' Read review

 

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No 8

Ravel Piano Concerto

Krystian Zimerman (pf) Cleveland Orchestra / Pierre Boulez

'Zimerman’s pianism is self-recommending. His trills in the first movement of...' Read review

 

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No 9

Bartók Piano Concerto No 2

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (pf) BBC PO / Gianandrea Noseda

'If you’re after a disc of Bartók’s piano concertos that maximises on the music’s...' Read review

 

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No 10

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 2

Leif Ove Andsnes (pf) BPO / Antonio Pappano

'Andsnes here gives the lie to those who find his playing on the cool side...' Read review

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Top 10 Mahler symphonies

Gramophone Mon 7th July 2014

Gustav Mahler said, 'My symphonies represent the contents of my entire life.'

Top 10 recordings of Mahler's symphonies

No 1

Symphony No 1

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Rafael Kubelík

'This distinguished coupling has already been available at bargain price...' Review

 

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No 2 

Symphony No 2 

Royal; Kožená; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle 

'The first movement was something of a sticking-point in Rattle’s...Review

 

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No 3 

Symphony No 3

Lipton; Choir of the Transfiguration; NYPO / Leonard Bernstein 

'The courageous breadth of line (only Abbado on DG has since...' Review


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No 4 

Symphony No 4

Persson; Budapest Festival Orchestra / Iván Fischer

'What no one will deny is the amazing unanimity and precision of…' Review

 

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No 5 

Symphony No 5

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle

'The tutti sound Rattle draws from the orchestra is clean and sharply…' Review

 

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No 6 

Symphony No 6 

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Claudio Abbado 

'Whatever the revolution in playing standards since January…' Review

 

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No 7

Symphony No 7 

Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Claudio Abbado 

'Abbado' s view of Mahler's Seventh Symphony, like Haitink's on…' Review

 

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No 8 

Symphony No 8

London Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra / Klaus Tennstedt

'The Royal Festival Hall was never a natural venue for Mahler’s…' Review

 

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No 9 

Symphony No 9 

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Herbert von Karajan

'In 1980, Karajan and the BPO made a memorable LP recording of…' Review

 

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No 10

Symphony No 10 (ed Cooke)

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle

'Sir Simon Rattle previously recorded Deryck Cooke's performing…' Review

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Top 10 violin concertos

Guest Mon 7th April 2014

An introduction to 10 of the greatest violin concertos with highly recommended recordings

Top 10 violin concertos

Along with the piano, the violin is the instrument best served with concertos, and what a variety there is! Here’s a violin concerto Top 10 that embraces all the great works at the centre of every violinist’s repertoire ranging from the poise of the Mozart via the red-blooded Romantic works like the Tchaikovsky to the modern language of the Prokofiev and Bartók…

No 1

Mozart Violin Concerto No 3

The English Concert / Andrew Manze (vn)

'Andrew Manze’s vivid notes stress the 19-year-old composer’s...' Read review

 

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No 2

Beethoven Violin Concerto

Isabelle Faust (vn) Orchestra Mozart / Claudio Abbado

'The Beethoven and Berg violin concertos aren’t commonly paired on...' Read review

 

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No 3

Mendelssohn Violin Concerto

Daniel Hope (vn) Chamber Orchestra of Europe / Thomas Hengelbrock

'Daniel Hope has a chameleon-like ability to...' Read review

 

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No 4

Brahms Violin Concerto

Julia Fischer (vn) Netherlands PO / Yakov Kreizberg

'Now well in her stride as a recording artist, German violinist Julia...' Read review

 

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No 5

Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto

James Ehnes (vn) Sydney SO / Vladimir Ashkenazy

'James Ehnes’s programme, complementing the Concerto with the rest of...' Read review

 

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No 6

Bruch Violin Concerto No 1

Julia Fischer (vn) Tonhalle Orchestra / David Zinman

'Her bright, attenuated sound, vibrantly expressive but never overbearing...' Read review

 

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No 7

Berg Violin Concerto

Isabelle Faust (vn) Orchestra Mozart / Claudio Abbado

'The Beethoven and Berg violin concertos aren’t commonly paired on...' Read review

 

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No 8

Bartók Violin Concerto No 2

Patricia Kopatchinskaja (vn) Frankfurt RSO / Peter Eötvös

'Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto has long since...' Read review

 

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No 9

Prokofiev Violin Concerto No 2

Patricia Kopatchinskaja (vn) LPO / Vladimir Jurowski

'In the last movement of Prokofiev’s...' Read review

 

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No 10

Shostakovich Violin Concerto No 1

Lisa Batiashvili (vn) Bavarian RSO / Esa-Pekka Salonen

'The new-found popularity of Shostakovich’s greatest concerto has...' Read review

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Top 10 recent Bach recordings

Gramophone Thu 2nd April 2015

Ten of the best Bach recordings recently reviewed in the pages of Gramophone

Top 10 recent Bach recordings

The following list of 10 recordings represent the most highly-regarded new Bach releases of the past year. All of the recordings were selected as Editor's Choice or Recording of the Month in Gramophone. You can read the original Gramophone reviews by following the links and listen to many of the albums in the following Qobuz playlist:

No 1

JS Bach English Suites Nos 1, 3 & 5

Piotr Anderszewski pf

(Warner Classics)

'There’s a beautifully controlled thoughtfulness, lines explored with illuminating delicacy and a complete confidence in the interpretation. A Bach piano disc to set among the best of recent years.' Read review

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No 2

JS Bach Keyboard Partitas

Igor Levit pf

(Sony Classical)

'The distinction of this set of the Partitas will establish him in the minds of many, I’m sure, as a major artist' Read review

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No 3

JS Bach Lutheran Masses Vol II

The Sixteen / Harry Christophers 

(Coro) 

'There are few recordings as unassuming and natural as this. Strongly recommended.' Read review

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No 4

JS Bach Goldberg Variations

Britten Sinfonia / Thomas Gould 

(Harmonia Mundi) 

'Sitkovetsky’s Goldberg transcription really illuminates the inventiveness in Bach’s music, not least when played as superbly as it is here.' Read review

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No 5

JS Bach Orchestral Suites 

Academy of Ancient Music / Richard Egarr hpd 

(AAM Records) 

'Another fine addition to the AAM’s young in-house label, and what better way than this to showcase the ensemble’s delightfully engaging spirit of collegiality?' Read review

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No 6

Bach Violin Concertos 

Joshua Bell vn ASMF 

(Sony Classical) 

'A depth of sound of almost Henryk Szeryng-like dimensions' Read review

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No 7

Bach Mass in B minor 

Soloists; Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen 

(Hyperion)

'This reading deserves to be taken very seriously' Read review

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No 8

JS Bach Cello Suites Nos 2, 3 & 6 arr Viola

Maxim Rysanov va 

(BIS) 

'It’s like listening to and falling in love with the piece for the first time. And that should be taken as the rare and beautiful opportunity it is.' Read review

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No 9

JS Bach Cantatas Nos 33, 69 & 191

Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki  

(BIS) 

'Suzuki and BCJ have created an indelible mark on Bach’s recorded vocal landscape.' Read review

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No 10

JS Bach A Christmas Oratorio 

Collegium Vocale Gent / Philippe Herreweghe  

(Euroarts) 

'Not only musically beguiling but also filmed intelligently, with the production team always illuminating exactly the right views of the musical details.' Read review

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