A magic moment in the history of classical music: Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim – both from Buenos Aires – team up for a duo recital at Berlin's Philharmonie. A reunion of the two classical superstars after more than 15 years. THE concert highlight from Berlin's fully packed Philharmonie on the occasion of the "Festtage der Berliner Staatsoper 2014".
The old model for creating a hit classical recording – big-name soloist plus big-name conductor in major repertory work – is not so common anymore, but this live Brahms recording from the Staatskapelle Berlin under Venezuela's Gustavo Dudamel, with Argentine-Israeli-Palestinian-Spanish pianist Daniel Barenboim as soloist, shows that there's life in the concept yet. One could point to the virtues of pianist and conductor separately: it's a rare septuagenarian who can combine power and clear articulation of detail the way Barenboim does, and Dudamel builds a vast sweep in, especially, the Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15. But it's the way that the two work together that really makes news. Chalk it up to shared South American heritage or to whatever the listener wants, but the way the orchestra and piano define separate spheres and work them together is extraordinary. Again, it is in the Piano Concerto No. 1 and its Beethovenian drama that their mutual understanding is most evident, but there is a sense of great variety powerfully unified throughout.
Maxim Vengerov now confronts - and conquers - one of the supreme challenges all great violinists must face: The Brahms violin concerto. This beautiful, virtuosic work has defined careers from Heifetz to Perlman. Vengerov's turn has come, and his rich, burnished tone and impassioned phrasing make this one of the standout concerto CDs of the year. The soulful partnership of Vengerov and Barenboim (one of his most important mentors) is also a strong selling point.
For the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frédéric Chopin, the renowned Ruhr Piano Festival in Essen invited the Staatskapelle Berlin to give a truly special program: the rare combination of Chopin‘s two piano concertos in one concert. For this purpose Daniel Barenboim, the orchestra‘s principal conductor, handed over the reins of „his“ ensemble to up-and-coming young conductor Andris Nelsons, assuming the role of piano soloist instead. The press raved: „Storms of applause for a dream couple: Daniel Barenboim and Andris Nelsons won over the audience […] with their rousing Chopin interpretations“.
This might just be one of the most intriguing of all of the Mozart multi-pianos concertos on record. Here we have a rare collaboration not found on any other recording between George Solti and Daniel Barenboim, where the two conductors face each other playing the concerto for two pianos K.365; the conducting of the English Camber Orchestra from the piano on this Decca recording is at the hands of George Solti.
“If ever a performance of Schumann's Piano Concerto stressed the principle of dialogue between soloist and conductor, then this is it. True, the Philharmonia's string ensemble isn't as watertight under Fischer-Dieskau as it might have been under some other conductors; and poetry is invested at the premium of relatively low-level drama. Orchestral textures are absolutely right for Schumann – warm yet transparent, full-bodied yet never stodgy – and poetry is a major priority. Add Barenboim's compatible vision and keyboard finesse, and you indeed have a memorable reading. The more discursive Introduction and Allegroappassionato has plenty of interest, but remembering that this isn't exactly top-drawer Schumann, the performance could be more arresting. The coupling is du Pré's Schumann Cello Concerto, the tear-laden quality in the slow movement more than matching that in her famous Elgar account. A rewarding disc.”- Gramophone Classical Music Guide
These extraordinary performances were recorded live at the Herodes Atticus Odeon in Athens in 2004 and offer the first musical encounter between Daniel Barenboim and Simon Rattle. One-time rivals for the post of principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, they here unite, happy to pay tribute to each other in a performance of Brahms’s First Piano Concerto of an epic grandeur and raw emotional intensity. Barenboim, pianist, conductor and political activist, has clearly reached the pinnacle of a dazzling career (a prophecy of his recent London performances of the complete Beethoven sonatas and concertos) that has ranged from prodigy to the fullest maturity. Caught on this form, few musicians can approach him in stature. Rattle launches the opening tutti with an explosive force, and after an oddly stiff and self-conscious entry (music that Tovey claimed as equal to anything in Bach’s St Matthew Passion) he quickly declares his true status, playing with a dark eloquence and with a breadth and range of inflection that allows him to savour every detail. Rarely can the first movement’s coda have emerged with such frenzied emotion, and here in particularly both Barenboim and Rattle combine to sound like King Lear raging against the universe (“Blow winds and crack your cheeks…”). The second movement, Brahms’s response to Schumann’s attempted suicide, is weighted with an almost unbearable significance and intensity, and in the finale Wolf’s strange dictum, “Brahms cannot exult”, is turned topsy-turvy.
Schubert knew madness. He knew it to the depths of his soul and feared it. And out of his fear he wrote the greatest monument to love lost, to death lost, to madness found. He wrote Die Winterreise, the most hopeless art work ever conceived by the despairing mind of man. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is the voice of Winterreise. In small part, this is because he recorded it seven times between 1952 and 1990. In larger part, this is because he is able to transform himself into the despairing lover. Yet Fischer-Dieskau is still the most lucid and most technically controlled of madmen. As Ingmar Bergman remarked on actor Max von Sydow, "If I'd had a psychopath to present these deeply psychopathic roles, it would have been unbearable".
Warner Classics has issued this splendid three disc boxed set of eight Franz Liszt scores. It fetaures Daniel Barenboim as both piano soloist and conductor… This fine selection could not have a finer advocate than Daniel Barenboim; a true giant in the classical music world today. A brilliant performer at the piano and a conductor of great renown this man lives for music. - Michael Cookson; MusicWeb-International