Top 10 recent Beethoven recordings

Gramophone Thu 16th April 2015

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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