"Muti's Beethoven Fifth is fleet, fluid, and transparent. He shows his usual attention to details, and offers many individual touches. I especially enjoyed the horn crescendo in bar 34 of the Allegro con brio. It's not indicated in my ancient Eulenberg score but makes perfect sense in its context. …Muti achieves a clarity and rhythmic definition found only in the finest interpretations…The playing of the Philadelphia Orchestra is nothing short of spectacular. The fast string triplets from measure 132 in the final movement are not only accurate but beautifully played with full tone.
Beethoven wrote ten sonatas for piano and violin, the best known of which are the "Spring" and the "Kreutzer" sonatas. The fame of these two works has tended to result in neglect of the remaining sonatas. This is unfortunate because Beethoven's remaining eight sonatas for piano and violin include much great music. The set of 10 works is of an appropriate size to warrant exploration of the entire group for those with a passion for the violin or for Beethoven. It includes an appealing mix of familiar and unfamiliar music.
The string quartet is the highest achievement of classical music. How to describe what a great string quartet is/does? Four voices that sing, simultaneously dependently and independently. Or, as someone else once said, "a conversation among four very intelligent and witty persons." After almost 200 years, Beethoven's 16 quartets still stand as the acme of the form, notwithstanding brilliant contributions from just about every important composer since. There are many wonderful performances of the Beethoven quartets available on CD, but none are more distinguished than these performances by the Talich Quartet. More than any other ensemble in my experience, the Talich's performances proclaim that intimacy is the true experience of quartet playing (and listening). Every phrase is projected with exquisite attention to the constantly shifting balance of light and shadow that is the hallmark of the greatest quartet playing. Tempos are vigorous without being rushed, rubato is applied in the subtlest way imaginable, and dynamics seem to explore impossible distinctions between pp and ppp. In short, every performance in this set invites you to carefully listen to Beethoven's musical argument as you've never listened before.T. Beers – Amazon
Following on from Volume 11 which has a superb Eroica Variations, Ronald Brautigam’s excellent journey through Beethoven’s complete works for solo piano continues in volume 12 with further variations. This time it’s a group from earlier in his career. The Dressler Variations were Beethoven’s first published work, and are pleasant enough though pretty light-weight stuff, as are the almost aphoristic Sechs Variationen über ein Schweizer Lied.