The Piano Concerto No. 2 is also Beethoven in classical mode, using an orchestra that would have suited a Mozart piano concerto equally well. What marks it out from other classical works of the time are the solo outbursts in each of the first two movements. In the first, a contrapuntal cadenza with exciting modulations takes us into new and more individual territory, in which the keyboard becomes absolutely the composers focus; in the second we are treated to some powerful, improvisatory solos. The last movement, a rondo with a highly rhythmic main theme in 6/8, manages to introduce a descending chromatic progression towards the end and closes with the piano oscillating rapidly between major and minor chords (a light hearted conclusion to the piece, but one which taxes every pianist).
"Bernard Haitink: The Symphony Edition" is one of two recent box sets from Decca, marking Haitink's eighty-fifth birthday in 2014. Together with Haitink: The Philips Years this set offers a broad, tantalizing overview of the great Dutch conductor's compelling artistry, and makes a near-perfect introduction to one of the truly magnificent recorded legacies of our time. Haitink will be 85 on 4 March 2014, and this set presents his six complete symphonic cycles by cornerstone classical composers: Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Schumann and Tchaikovsky.
"…I will treasure this set until the end of my days, and hope others will attain the same joy from it after I am gone." ~SA-CD.net
Translucence, transparency – warmth' are the qualities identified by Bernard Haitink as necessary for an ideal sound performance of Beethoven's only opera, and all are present in this fantastic recording of Katharina Thalbach's new production for Opernhaus Zurich. Haitink conducts the Zurich Opera Orchestra in a magnificent performance in which Leonore Overture No. 3 provides an interlude between the two scenes of the second act, following a tradition started by Gustav Mahler.
Following the collections of symphonies (Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Kletzki, SU 4051-2) and violin sonatas (Suk, Panenka, SU 4077-2), Supraphon is now releasing the complete Beethoven concertante pieces. All of them (including the Triple Concerto and the genre-unique Fantasia for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra) came into being within a mere sixteen years, between 1793 and 1809. Although Beethoven deemed the piano "an imperfect instrument", his five piano concertos form one of the cornerstones of his oeuvre and represent a significant landmark in this genre.