The complete works of Beethoven on 85 CDs plus a supplement particularly outstanding recordings of the past on 15 CDs!
Including the 32 legendary piano sonatas, played by the eccentric talent of the century Friedrich Gulda
The film received a pasting from UK critics but as the soundtrack chooses from a vast archive of great performances, it’s possible to retrieve something from the experience. The opening track, the Grosse Fuge, is a bold choice given the wider audience for whom this soundtrack is aiming. It receives a magnificent performance from the Takács Quartet which is as finely attuned to the music’s jagged outcrops as its sheltered byways. The uninterrupted flow of the sweet and soulful second movement of the third Razumovsky is pure poetry in their hands. Ashkenazy gives a brilliant but never rushed performance of the finale to the early Sonata in C minor and his straightforward manner in the Arietta from Beethoven’s last sonata is illuminated by the very clear Decca recording. Haitink’s performance of the finale of the Ninth Symphony with the Royal Concertgebouw and a quartet of soloists led by Lucia Popp does not storm the heavens and I don’t ever recall being so aware of this movement’s proceeding by paragraphs. However, it would seem to have found a comfortable place in a well planned and wide-ranging celebration of Beethoven’s genius.
Bernard Haitink & London Symphony Orchestra started their Bruckner cycle with this album. Haitink’s previous releases on LSO Live (Beethoven: Complete Symphonies & Triple Concerto & Strauss: Ein Alpensinfonie) are very good, & now he continues this line. Bernard Haitink is internationally renowned for his interpretations of Bruckner and is widely recognised as the world’s leading Bruckner conductor.
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).
In 2015 the Berliner Philharmoniker dedicated an evening of their renowned Easter Festival in Baden-Baden to one of the most famous and beloved of German composers, Ludwig van Beethoven. Together with Bernard Haitink, a universally acclaimed authority on the works of that composer, they performed Beethoven’s exquisite expression of nature, his Symphony No. 6, the “Pastoral”. They were joined for Beethoven’s Violin Concerto by Isabelle Faust, whose interpretation of the work has enjoyed widespread acclaim.
"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.
Haitink's integral set of Beethoven Symphonies with the London Symphony has none of the stodginess that sometimes afflicted his earlier recordings with the Concertgebouw. His restudy of the works, and the presence of concert audiences translate into faster tempos, sharper accents, wider dynamic range and an overall sense of energy that imbue these nine masterpieces.