Igor Levit makes his debut on Sony in the last six piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven, a part of the repertoire that is usually reserved for mature artists, not rising stars. Yet in spite of some signs of youthful enthusiasm, and a possible loss of objectivity from playing these pieces on a busy recital schedule, Levit has a good feeling for Beethoven's late style, and his 2013 release is a promising beginning for his recording career. The excessive use of rubato is something Levit should watch, because too much alteration of the tempo dissipates Beethoven's energy, and even though these sonatas have their moments of reverie and trance-like passages that can be interpreted as mystical experiences, too much elasticity can make them seem like idle daydreams, or worse, forgetfulness.
If beauty is truth and truth beauty, then the Quartetto Italiano's late-'60s, early-'70s cycle of the complete Beethoven string quartets is possibly the most truthful cycle ever recorded because it is certainly the most beautiful cycle ever recorded. No quartet has ever played with such consummate beauty of tone, such ideal intonation, and such superb ensemble as the Quartetto Italiano. In the most strenuous passages, in the most awkward, in the most excruciating passages, the Italiano is always and everywhere transcendentally beautiful.
One of the great cycles. Of the hundred or so available recorded cycles (out of about one hundred and fifteen or so), this rates as one of the best. In better sound than either the DG stereo cycle and the live King International cycle, Kempff's style is more poetic and less intense and fiery than others. Whatever Kempff may give away in terms of speed, power, and precision, he makes up for in other ways
A stunning 12-CD box set, Beethoven Unbound, will be released to mark the completion of Llŷr Williams’ monumental Beethoven cycle at Wigmore Hall and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) – recorded live at Wigmore Hall over three years and nine recitals.