At the heart of Beethoven’s life’s statement as a composer lies the cycle of sixteen string quartets, which, to this day, has retained a special status and reverence. Since 2012, the Elias String Quartet has been immersed in its Beethoven Project, performing all Beethoven’s string quartets at venues throughout the UK. In this live recording, the ensemble captures both the intimacy and grandeur of the works. With an ever-expanding recording catalogue that has been met with widespread critical acclaim, the quartet is delighted to release this disc, the first volume of its complete Beethoven cycle to be recorded live at Wigmore Hall over the coming Seasons.
…And, in fact, Elias has rarely been performed with greater respect for the original than it is here under the conductor Christoph Spering, who has recorded this “sacred opera” with his New Orchestra and the Chorus Musicus Köln in Essen’s Philharmonic Hall with the composer’s “dramatic ideal” fully in mind and heart. (…) The result was in fact an oratorio in opera form and a wealth of dramaturgical elements that absolutely enthralled the public. Fresh Interpretation Just as the composer would have wanted it, Christoph Spering has selected a full chorus and a magnificently dimensioned orchestra for this recording. The New Orchestra performs on historical instruments and in the two years since its founding has gained renown as an outstanding interpreter of the music of the romantic era. (…) Brisk tempos, sharp delineation, powerful expression, and interpretive freshness are the hallmarks of this new discovery for the MDG Live label.
Eliane Elias' second record for Bluebird is, like the previous Kissed by Nature, a vocal date intended for crossover audiences. Elias connects with her Brazilian pop heritage by choosing to sing, early on, a pair of Astrud Gilberto pieces, "Call Me" and "So Nice (Summer Samba)," both of which fortuitously suit the short range of her voice. Still, she speaks far more with a half-minute of piano soloing than she does with several minutes of vocal interpretation, and sounds far more comfortable taking an extra verse of the latter in Portuguese.
Backing Elias on Light My Fire is a crew of twelve high-caliber players, including special guests guitarist/vocalist Gilberto Gil and trumpeter Randy Brecker. The rhythm section - which has accompanied Elias on several of her most recent recordings - includes guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Paulo Braga. Also on hand to sing with Elias and Gil on "Toda Menina Baiana" is Elias' daughter, singer-songwriter Amanda Brecker. New to Elias' team is percussionist Marivaldo dos Santos, drummer Rafael Barata, guitarists Romero Lubambo and Ross Traut, and flutist Lawrence Feldman.