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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

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Beethoven: Bagatelles

Beethoven: Bagatelles


Beethoven:

Bagatelles (7), Op. 33

Bagatelles (11), Op. 119

Bagatelles (6), Op. 126

Bagatelle in C major, WoO56

Bagatelle in C minor, WoO52

Piano Pieces (4), WoO 59-61a


Following his highly acclaimed Beethoven ‘Moonlight’, ‘Pathétique’ and ‘Waldstein’ Sonatas release, Hyperion’s Gramophone-award-winning artist Steven Osborne turns his talents to Beethoven’s complete Bagatelles. Though the composer himself referred to these thirty short piano works, which he penned throughout his life, as ‘trifles’, these are nonetheless trifles from the mind of a genius. In this polished album, Osborne lends his remarkable artistry to everything from the Six Bagatelles of Op 126, which at times occupy the same rarefied spiritual world as the late quartets and were the very last works Beethoven ever wrote for the piano, to the composer’s most famous stand-alone piano piece, the mysterious little A minor Bagatelle known to all the world as ‘Für Elise’.

“[Beethoven's] Leipzig publisher complained that they were such insignificant trifles no one would believe they were by Beethoven: not only slight but on the whole easy too. The joy of having a player of Steven Osborne's spare, rhythmically incisive brilliance shows the idiocy of the publisher's words.” The Observer, 16th April 2012

“vigorously and sparklingly played by Steven Osborne, who must bring his pianistic intelligence to bear on elementary and virtuosic performance levels alike.” Sunday Times, 22nd April 2012

“the range is enormous...Osborne encompasses this transition in masterly fashion. This disc follows on from his one of Beethoven sonatas, and it ignites a similar joy in the way that he conveys ideas so lucidly and with such subtle shades of tone, distilling the essence of each miniature with potency and freshness.” The Telegraph, 19th April 2012 *****

“It's a part of [Osborne's] personal excursion to seek the individual potency of each Bagatelle...Osborne has delved deep to extract so much from cameos that pack emotional enormity within small spaces.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2012

“The air of faux naivete Osborne brings to these trifles is particualrly persuasive, with understatement providing the perfect setting and foil for Beethoven's droll humour...Whatever preconceptions you may bring to these pieces, the crystal clarity of Osborne's exquisitely polished pianism is an unalloyed joy to the ear...Osborne's new recording will take its place without apology in any company.” International Record Review, June 2012

“His playing is immaculately polished, but here he misses something of the arresting brusqueness, heartfelt lyricism, madcap zaniness, and tender melancholy...Osborne's most expressive playing comes in the reflective moments of the Op. 126 Bagatelles.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2012 ***

“Despite playing on a modern grand, Osborne’s attack, tone and phrasing suggest an awareness of period performance practice. Climaxes are powerfully telling, yet always remain within “classical” parameters...[Osborne is] captivating, with a gentle touch that produces an astonishing inwardness.” MusicWeb International, July 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - July 2012

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Beethoven: Cello Sonatas

Beethoven: Cello Sonatas


Beethoven:

Cello Sonatas Nos. 1-5 (complete) and variations

Horn Sonata in F major, Op. 17

arranged by Beethoven


Steven Isserlis (cello) & Robert Levin (fortepiano)

‘Isserlis’s playing always has spirit to spare. But the fortepiano ensures an even fresher sense of discovery to his cello odyssey’ (The Guardian)

In this new chamber recording, Steven Isserlis together with his regular collaborator, fortepianist Robert Levin, presents a magisterial and long-awaited compendium of Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano, including Beethoven’s arrangement of his Op 17 Horn Sonata. The use of the fortepiano opens up a wealth of sonic possibilities for these works.

The five Cello Sonatas span Beethoven’s compositional epochs and comprise the most important cycle of cello sonatas in the entire repertoire. Isserlis writes that the composer ‘transforms himself from confident virtuoso to supreme master of classical form, and then beyond that to a mystic exploring strange new worlds of unearthly beauty—a wondrous transfiguration’.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“This set contains of the finest Beethoven performances you are likely to hear. Steven Isserlis is on blazing form: every note lives, every movement is characterised with infectious relish; his range is breathtaking. The ensemble with Robert Levin is dynamic, intimate, often electric.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2014 ****

“Isserlis commands attention first, if only for the extraordinary bass growl of his cello’s bottom register...Isserlis’s love of big, throbbing gestures is equally apparent further up his cello. But he never chews the scenery and the music’s drama fully deserves the duo’s strong emotions, firm accenting and virile leaps.” The Times, 10th January 2014 ****

“I don’t think you will ever hear a more spine-tingling performance of the adagio in the final sonata than this. Both performers take great care in the shaping of phrases, matching every articulation whilst being acutely aware of the relative importance of hidden themes and rhythmic figures.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 6th January 2014

Presto Disc of the Week

6th January 2014

Presto Discs of 2014

Winner

GGramophone Awards 2014

Finalist - Chamber

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - February 2014

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Beethoven - Cello Sonatas Volume 1

Beethoven - Cello Sonatas Volume 1


Beethoven:

Cello Sonata No. 1 in F major, Op. 5 No. 1

Cello Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 5 No. 2

Cello Sonata No. 3 in A major, Op. 69


Angela Hewitt has taken time out from her impossibly busy solo concert schedule (including her stunningly successful Bach World Tour) to record a dazzling chamber disc with one of the greatest young cellists of today. Daniel Müller-Schott’s rise to fame has been well documented in the world’s press. His fastidious, clean-lined, yet energetic playing is the perfect foil for Angela’s particular artistry.

In their first Hyperion CD together, they present Volume 1 of Beethoven’s complete cello sonatas. Beethoven’s first three cello sonatas astonished his contemporaries with their dramatically innovative qualities. Before he wrote them, there were virtually no works in which the cello fully broke away from its subservient role of basso continuo to become an equal partner to the piano. They are works of extraordinary breadth and grandeur. Writing of the Sonata in A major Op 69, the two artists explain that ‘the dialogue between the two instruments reaches perfection, and demands the highest level of communication and expressiveness’. This is surely achieved in this splendid recording.

‘Daniel Müller-Schott is a fast rising star in the cello firmament. His approach is fastidious and full-blooded, marked by emotional generosity kept in bounds by innate good taste and a winsome freshness’ (Vancouver Sun)

‘The magnetic young German cellist Daniel Müller-Schott administered a dose of adrenaline with a compelling performance of Haydn’s Concerto in C. Mr Müller-Schott, a fearless player with technique to burn, made child’s play of the work’s difficulties. But even more impressive were his gorgeous, plush tone and his meticulous attention to expression. He did not slather on vibrato but applied fine gradations, or none at all, to shape phrases graciously’ (The New York Times)

“These performances are full of interesting ideas: there's rarely a bar without a subtle bend somewhere along the line and yet the various allegros are sparky in the best sense of the term, rhythmically crisp and alert, especially the rondo finale of the G minor Sonata, which is deliciously pointed by Hewitt.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2008

“…Daniel Müller-Schott and Angela Hewitt's… respond with imagination and flexibility to Beethoven's mercurial changes of mood, one moment tender and reflective, then bold and dynamic…” BBC Music Magazine, December 2008 ****

“Müller-Schott’s playing is strong and vibrant … Hewitt brings her characteristic digital dexterity and sparkling articulation to bear … the performances certainly make one look forward to their second disc” International Record Review

“The dynamic duo find overwhelming intensity in this music, in a performance packed with detail and emotional gravitas” Classic FM Magazine

“Daniel Müller-Schott and Angela Hewitt give Beethoven's first three cello sonatas a nimble and colourful outing. Their musical 'dress' sense is immaculate, with never so much as a quaver out of place, no hint of ungainliness or aggression and a cultivated sound world which, whether presented singly or in duet, is consistently smooth. Their duo engagement is compelling and their repertoire of gestures – vivid dynamics, tiny instances of expressive rubato, suspended breathing and so on – is exceedingly broad. Sometimes the reverie might be considered a little overplayed. At the opening of the A major Third Sonata's brief Adagio third movement Hewitt's dreamily sculpted phrasing verges on sounding Chopinesque, though poetic in effect and poignantly responded to by Müller- Schott.
These performances are full of interesting ideas: there's rarely a bar without a subtle bend somewhere along the line and yet the various allegros are sparky in the best sense of the term, rhythmically crisp and alert, especially the rondo finale of the G minor Sonata, which is deliciously pointed by Hewitt. Those in search of a more overtly masculine approach to Beethoven would probably be better off elsewhere but Müller-Schott and Hewitt provide a bright, decorative antidote to their more austere rivals. The recorded sound is beautifully balanced.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“it is musical matchmaking at its best. With Hewitt's controlled elegance and emotional penetration, and Muller-Schott’s expressiveness and technical virtuosity, the pair separately and together represents the perfect balance of head and heart in performance.” Charlotte Gardner, bbc.co.uk, 28th November 2008

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2008

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Beethoven - Cello Sonatas Volume 2

Beethoven - Cello Sonatas Volume 2


Beethoven:

Variations (12) on "See the conquering hero comes" for Cello and Piano, WoO 45

Cello Sonata No. 4 in C major, Op. 102 No. 1

Variations (12) on "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen" for Cello and Piano, Op. 66

Variations (7) on "Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen", for Cello and Piano, WoO 46

Cello Sonata No. 5 in D major, Op. 102 No. 2


The mercurial partnership of Angela Hewitt and Daniel Müller-Schott brought overwhelming intensity and emotional gravitas’ to a first disc of Beethoven’s cello sonatas. Here in a second volume they present two more of these groundbreaking masterpieces, together with the composer’s homages to Mozart and Handel—works which are equally important additions to the cello repertoire.

Hewitt’s characteristic digital dexterity and deep understanding of the classical style and Müller-Schott’s vibrant playing combine to create performances of great energy and sensitivity that will delight their many fans.

In a fascinating booklet note, Daniel Müller-Schott explores the evolution of Beethoven’s works for cello from a musician’s perspective, describing their revolutionary power and demonstrating the composer’s multifarious imagination [‘Mannigfachphantastische’].

“Müller-Schott is certainly one of the finest cellists before the public today, and this is his core native repertory. The performances have the winning freshness of rediscovery.” Sunday Times, 14th March 2010

“Müller-Schott and Hewitt deliver strong and committed performances characterised by great attention to detail and wonderful musical interaction...both players maximising the degree of tonal variety without any recourse to exaggerated mannerism.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2010 *****

“the two players instinctively click and the music comes across with vibrancy, sensitivity and a galvanising unanimity of purpose.” The Telegraph, 24th March 2010 *****

“These performances are strongly characterised, clearly etched and full of life and drama...In short, these are striking, accomplished, highly individual performances.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2010

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Beethoven - Complete Music for Piano Trio 1

Beethoven - Complete Music for Piano Trio 1


Beethoven:

Piano Trio No. 5 in D major, Op. 70 No. 1 'The Ghost'

Piano Trio No. 6 in E flat Major, Op. 70 No. 2

Piano Trio No. 9 in B flat major, WoO 39


Florestan Trio

“As in the Florestans' earlier recordings there's no distortion, no ugly bulges or individual eccentricities to learn to tolerate - everything has the ring of truth about it...there's character in spades, but in performances you really could play every day without tiring of the individual personalities at work” Andrew McGregor, bbc.co.uk, 4th February 2003

“Here's a recording that immediately, from the first, impetuous bars of Op 70 No 1, feels just right. In this movement the Florestan makes the long second repeat, but there's such a sense of momentum that no one could find it too extended or repetitious. Indeed, the reiterated chords that precede the lead-back reignite our concentration with their air of tense mystery.
And when we reach this point for the second time, the G major harmony at the start of the coda has a wonderful, dense tranquillity. The famous 'Ghost' movement creates a powerful, chilling effect, with stark, senza vibrato string tone and the extraordinary writing in the piano's deep bass register exploited by Susan Tomes with superb control and sensitivity.
Op 70 No 2 is something of a Cinderella work, but the Florestan performance helps us to see it as a major achievement of Beethoven's middle period. Although they're a thoughtful, highly controlled group, there's room for moments of the most intense expression. And the finale, one of Beethoven's most prodigiously inventive pieces, has in this performance a feeling of uninhibited enjoyment. The recorded sound and balance are equally fine.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“This is playing of quite extraordinary sensitivity and depth. I can hardly wait until the next volume” The Independent

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Hyperion Beethoven Complete Music for Piano Trio - CDA67327

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Beethoven - Complete Music for Piano Trio 2

Beethoven - Complete Music for Piano Trio 2


Beethoven:

Piano Trio No. 7 in B flat Major, Op. 97 'Archduke'

Allegretto in E flat major for Piano Trio, Hess 48

Piano Trio No. 11 in G major, Op. 121a 'Kakadu'


“I’ve been impressed throughout by their thoughtfulness, the way each passage is presented to maximum effect. There’s an overall Florestan style too—avoiding heaviness, keeping the textures light and airy, and giving every phrase an individual life and character” Gramophone Magazine

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Hyperion Beethoven Complete Music for Piano Trio - CDA67369

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Beethoven - Complete Music for Piano Trio 3

Beethoven - Complete Music for Piano Trio 3


Beethoven:

Piano Trio No. 1 in Eb major, Op. 1 No. 1

Piano Trio No. 2 in G major, Op. 1 No. 2

Piano Trio No. 8 in E flat major, WoO 38


Florestan Trio

“The Florestan Trio seems determined to extract every last ounce of energy, wit and spirit from these early works. Op 1 No 2's finale, for example, fizzes along; all Beethoven's surprising inventions and transformations grab our attention, and the whole piece is evidently as much fun to play as to listen to.
The principal vehicle for conveying the music's brightness and verve is Susan Tomes's fingerwork, wonderfully precise and rhythmical, though Anthony Marwood and Richard Lester also play with fine spirit and character. The two Op 1 slow movements are taken at flowing speeds, and allow for some relaxation of mood – Marwood's entry at the start of No 2's Largo is particularly poetic – but it's the bouncy, extrovert character of the Allegros and Prestos that leaves the strongest impression.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Beethoven - Complete Music for Piano Trio 4

Beethoven - Complete Music for Piano Trio 4


Beethoven:

Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor, Op. 1 No. 3

Piano Trio No. 10 in E flat major, Op. 44 'Variations on an Original Theme'

Piano Trio No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 11 'Gassenhauer', for violin, cello & piano


Florestan Trio

“This completes the Florestan Trio's Beethoven series. Their thoughtfulness throughout has been impressive; their overall style avoids heaviness, keeping the textures light and airy, and giving every phrase individual life and character.
Occasionally the liveliness can seem relentless, but their bubbling vitality is a natural response to Beethoven's inventiveness. And their care for detail makes the early and not fully characteristic Variations in E flat (Op 44) into an absorbing, thoroughly entertaining piece.
It's interesting to compare Op 1 No 3 with the version by the Kempf Trio (BIS), which is finely played but less searching as an interpretation.
The contrast is especially noticeable in the Andante, treated by Kempf and friends as a poetic, hymn-like slow movement, while the Florestans give us a true 18th-century Andante; much faster, and, in places, light and playful.
Op 11 is often more enjoyable in the version with clarinet instead of violin. But this is another Florestan triumph. By modifying the usual robust, jolly character of the outer movements, and introducing more delicate tones, Anthony Marwood can interpret his part in violinistic terms, establishing a close rapport with the cello, yet, at the start of the finale, proving he can be as bright and perky as any clarinettist.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Hyperion Beethoven Complete Music for Piano Trio - CDA67466

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Beethoven: Early Cantatas

Beethoven: Early Cantatas


Beethoven:

Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II, WoO 87

Cantata on the Accession of Emperor Leopold II, WoO 88

Opferlied Op. 121b

Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt, Op. 112


Judith Howarth (soprano), Janice Watson (soprano), Jean Rigby (contralto), John Mark Ainsley (tenor) & José Van Dam (bass)

Corydon Singers & Corydon Orchestra, Matthew Best

This second disc of Beethoven choral works from the Corydon Singers and Matthew Best includes the composer’s homage to Goethe, Meeresstille und Glückliche Fahrt, and the famous Opferlied, here performed beautifully by Jean Rigby in the version for soprano, choir and orchestra.

Also featured are two rarely performed and fascinating early works, the Cantatas written around 1790 to mark the death of Joseph II and the accession of his brother Leopold II. Both pieces are full of dramatic action and forthright representation of mood, and the ‘Joseph’ Cantata can quite legitimately be counted one of the composer’s most important early works, displaying remarkable maturity for a nineteen-year-old composer.

“A great joy … a fervour of sustained inspiration. A disc which, given the chance, is likely to prove itself the quarter’s best investment” Gramophone Magazine

“Arguably Beethoven’s first major masterpiece … superb performance, at once fresh and incisive and deeply moving” Penguin Guide

“It’s always wonderful to come across some unfamiliar piece and relish unsuspected, undiscovered beauties … Hyperion’s enterprising disc of two early cantatas is thoroughly to be recommended. A marvellous disc” Daily Telegraph

“Corydon Singers and the Corydon Orchestra and five soloists all cover themselves with glory and the recording is fine” Daily Mail

“This issue matches its venturesome contents with well-balanced sound and fine performances” Hi-Fi News

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Beethoven - Mass in C major

Beethoven - Mass in C major


Beethoven:

Mass in C major, Op. 86

Ah! Perfido, Op. 65

Ne' giorni tuoi felici

Tremate, empi, tremate, Op. 116


Janice Watson (soprano), Jean Rigby (mezzo soprano), John Mark Ainsley (tenor) & Gwynne Howell (bass)

Corydon Singers & Corydon Orchestra, Matthew Best

‘A fascinating CD’ (The Recorder)

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