This really was quite a fine recording of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, one of the best in years and easily the best of the early music recordings. The Choeur de la Chapelle Royale et du Collegium Vocale sing with strength and stamina, but also with grace and beauty of tone. The Champs Elysees Orchestra plays with power and precision, but also with unity of ensemble and beauty of tone, a very rare quality in an early music orchestra. And Herreweghe himself is actually an apt interpreter of the work. Not only does he have a knack for bringing out better than the best in his performers, but he actually seems to believe in the spiritual and sublime essence of the work, a very, very rare quality in any conductor these days. The result is a performance which, while it doesn't rival the 1940 Toscanini, the 1965 Klemperer, or the 1974 Böhm, does express the overwhelming sense that the numinous is imminent. Harmonia Mundi's sound is rich and vibrant.- James Leonard
With more than 7 hours of tender music by Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Debussy, Puccini and more, performed by greats like Luciano Pavarotti, Andre Previn and Jose Carreras, this set can complete any romantic evening at home. And if we can't play upon your heart strings, 100 classics for this low price is quite a deal.
This is another release in EMI’s highly successful 50 BEST series. This 3CD set contains 50 tracks from the finest EMI recordings of the famous Wiener Philharmoniker, know in English as the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, under some of the world’s greatest conductors including Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, Rudolf Kempe, André Cluytens, Riccardo Muti and many others.
This two-disc set of Handel's Suites performed by Andrei Gavrilov and Sviatoslav Richter is just as good as their other two-disc set of Handel's Suites but with one big advantage. Here as there, Handel's Suites are models of wit, sensitivity, affection and virtuosity. Here as there, Gavrilov's performances are fluent, muscular, and persuasive and Richter's performances are supremely expressive, wonderfully supple, and overwhelmingly commanding.
Despite what the Gramophone says, I think this is the best digital Fidelio available. If you bought Harnoncourt's superb Beethoven cycle with the same orchestra, you will know what to expect: sharp tempos in early XIX Century fashion, and sensational orchestral playing. But there is also warmth and humanity in Harnoncourt's vision. This set reminds me of my favourite Fidelio: the Ferenc Fricsay recording in DG with Rysanek, Haefliger and DFD. Charlotte Margiono has the right voice for Leonore and gives an outstanding performance. The rest of the cast is also excellent.
Matthew Best began his career as a bass, singing at Covent Garden and at other leading operatic venues throughout the world. But since the mid-'80s he has turned increasingly toward conducting, recording many choral/orchestral and operatic works for Hyperion Records. Over the years his singing range has changed as well, placing him in the category of bass-baritone and including roles such as Scarpia and Amfortas.
If you don't already have any recordings of Beethoven's late string quartets, by all means get this one by the Alban Berg Quartet. There hasn't been a set to equal it since it was originally released in a different configuration in the early '90s - the Emerson's overly enthusiastic but not especially insightful set? oh, come on! - and there hadn't been many to equal it before the '90s, only the Quartetto Italiano's wonderfully balanced and incredibly lovely set, the Quatuor Végh's supremely intense and transcendentally sublime set, and the Berg's own earlier, extremely concentrated and austerely passionate studio set.
Beethoven’s Fifth, described by one writer as "the most powerful work of musical rhetoric in orchestral literature," is surely the best-known symphony ever written. But how well do you really know this masterpiece? There are so many novel, forward-looking elements in it that it took years for some people to accept it as anything but unintelligible modern music.