Joshua Bell's fresh approach to these violin warhorses makes for an unexpectedly inviting listening experience. In the Mendelssohn he marries his bright tone to forthright phrasing in a manner that communicates the music's emotion without sliding into the gooey sweetness heard in some interpretations. There's little if anything hackneyed about Bell's reading, indicating he's thought about the work anew, right through to the stylistically appropriate cadenza he composed himself (Bell cites research that suggests Mendelssohn's friend Ferdinand David may have actually composed the original cadenza). Roger Norrington's crisp, period-informed style, with its pointed accents and propulsive energy easily fits in with Bell's conception.
This important set contains the sixteen Beethoven sonatas that Wilhelm Kempff recorded for Grammophon in Germany between 1940 and 1943. Several are reissued here for the first time since their original release on 78rpm discs and none are currently available elsewhere. The sound is excellent for the period and all reveal the young Kempff at his best, in performances that compliment his later thoughts. The release is the companion of two previous APR releases of early Kempff Beethoven recordings the late sonatas (APR6018) and piano concertos 1, 3, 4 & 5 (APR6019), both of which received excellent reviews and were amongst APRs best sellers.
Beethoven's String Quartets are well known for their inventiveness. The mold of the string quartet form, established by Haydn, was shattered by Beethoven's profound expression and expansion of the "rules." Between 1999 and 2003, the renowned Pražák Quartet recorded all of the Beethoven string quartets, and this match of program and performers is one made in heaven.
Hélène Grimaud's performances on this disc a coupling of Beethoven "Emperor" Piano Concerto with his Piano Sonata in A major, Op. 101 are truly fantastic. Her technique is essentially untouchable and her tone is surprisingly colorful. And, as in her previous recordings, her interpretations are outrageous. With Vladimir Jurowski and the Dresden Staatskapelle in the Concerto, Grimaud is unafraid to do whatever she wants with balance and tempos.