The 32 Piano Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven are often referred to as the ‘New Testament’ of the keyboard literature, following on the ‘Old Testament’ of J.S. Bach's 48 preludes and fugues in the Well-Tempered Clavier. Composed over a period of almost three decades, from 1795 to 1822, the sonatas constitute a fascinating panorama of an artistic career which underwent numerous changes – not to say upheavals – but nevertheless remained remarkably consistent.
On the evidence of this sensational disc, it seems clear that Sharon Bezaly is a flutist virtually without peer in the world today. The only serious competition for top position comes from Emmanuel Pahud, also a superb artist but one whose discography, fine enough in and of itself, fails to rise to Bezaly's level either in terms of imaginative programming or in its commitment to commissioning and recording worthy new works for the instrument./quote]
Reinecke's work is a musical re-telling of the well-known story of Undine, the water spirit who marries a knight, but is betrayed and takes her revenge on him. Frank Martin's virtuosic Ballade (1939) features an acrobatic flute cadenza, roaming melismas and irrepressible cascades, generating a compelling sense of drama. In 1945, while in exile during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, Martinu composed his Flute Sonata, in which the virtues of his distinct musical language are plain to hear - lyrical lines, a rhythmic drive which is both energetic and lively and an effective use of tone colour.
For the final instalment of his survey of Beethoven’s works for piano and orchestra, Ronald Brautigam has saved ‘the final crowning glory of his concerto output’, as Beethoven specialist Barry Cooper describes the Fifth Piano Concerto in his liner notes. It is coupled on this disc with the Choral Fantasia – an intriguing work scored for piano, orchestra and chorus with vocal soloists.
The apparently insatiable Dutch pianist Ronald Brautigam continues to gobble up standard and not-so-standard Beethoven with this 2009 disc featuring the composer's Fourth Piano Concerto and the piano transcription of his Violin Concerto, a recording that should please fans of the pianist's previous Beethoven recordings. Performing on a modern concert grand rather than the fortepianos he had favored in some earlier releases, Brautigam delivers readings that sparkle in the outer movements, sing in the central movements, and never resort to technical or emotional grandstanding to make their points.
Ronald Brautigam releases his second disc of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos – this time offering a youthfully fresh Concerto No. 2 which was actually conceived long before the First Piano Concerto. The programme also includes two rarities: the Piano Concerto in E flat major, WoO4, sometimes referred to as Beethoven’s ‘Concerto No.0’, and the Rondo in B flat major, WoO6, composed during the long period of composition of Concerto No.2 and probably at one stage intended as the finale of this work.
As smooth and delicious a performance of Beethoven's First Piano Concerto as has been released since the turn of the century, Ronald Brautigam's account of the work with Andrew Parrott and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra compares with Richter's for sparkle, with Pollini's for cleverness, and with Michelangeli's for liveliness. Brautigam's opening Allegro con brio has velocity and control, his central Largo expressivity and refinement, and his closing Rondo wit and whimsy.
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.