Kurt Masur (born 18 July 1927) is a retired German conductor, particularly noted for his interpretation of German Romantic music. Masur was born in Brieg, Lower Silesia, Germany (now Brzeg in Poland) and studied piano, composition and conducting in Leipzig, Saxony. (…) Masur conducted the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra for three years ending in 1958 and again from 1967 to 1972. He also worked with the Komische Oper of East Berlin. In 1970, he became Kapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, serving in that post until 1996…
There are all sorts of correspondences, musical and otherwise, that confer unity on this eclectic mix of works. John Corigliano's Fantasia, given a smashing performance by Grimaud that milks every ounce of poetry and mystery from its quieter moments, is based on the Allegretto of Beethoven's Seventh (just as Pärt's Credo quotes Bach). Both Beethoven's Choral Fantasy and Pärt's Credo are written for the unusual combination of piano, chorus, and orchestra, and both in their different ways seek to bring order from chaos (or in musical terms contrast "improvisation" with "composed" music). The odd man out here (conceptually at least) is Beethoven's Tempest Sonata, in which Grimaud finds similar qualities via its supposed inspiration in Shakespeare's eponymous play. In any case, it takes no special pleading to include two works by the same composer, and its inclusion makes for a thoughtful and attractive concept album that not incidentally keeps the focus squarely on Grimaud.
Recordings of Beethoven's Triple Concerto, Op. 56, by a piano trio rather than by a group of virtuosi (a configuration that almost always misunderstands the work) are not abundant. Still rarer are those like the present release by the Storioni Trio, a Dutch group that takes its name from the maker of the 1790s instrument played by the violinist (and strung, like the viola, with gut strings). Pianist Bart van de Roer plays an 1815 Lagasse fortepiano. This recording is part of a series devoted to Beethoven's piano trios, but the Triple Concerto actually is more comfortable in those surroundings than when forced to keep company with the likes of the Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61.
At the heart of Beethoven’s life’s statement as a composer lies the cycle of sixteen string quartets, which, to this day, has retained a special status and reverence. Since 2012, the Elias String Quartet has been immersed in its Beethoven Project, performing all Beethoven’s string quartets at venues throughout the UK. In this live recording, the ensemble captures both the intimacy and grandeur of the works. With an ever-expanding recording catalogue that has been met with widespread critical acclaim, the quartet is delighted to release this disc, the first volume of its complete Beethoven cycle to be recorded live at Wigmore Hall over the coming Seasons.
This was to be the end of the line for Italian word-setting by Viennese composers: once the confident sentiments that belonged to the poet Metastasio's opera seria felt the chill and threatening wind of Enlightenment and Revolution, their time was up. Even we, for the most part, prefer to remember the German-speaking Beethoven, Schubert and Haydn. So it is good to be reminded of their responses to the Italian muse (usually as part of their craft-learning student work) in this particularly well-cast recital. Central Europe, in the person of Andras Schiff meets Italy, in Cecilia Bartoli, to delightful, often revelatory effect.
Rudolf Serkin's 1964 recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto in C minor is surely among the greatest recordings of the work ever made, and certainly his finest performance of the work. The energy and enthusiasm and even passion he brings to Concerto in C minor is overwhelming, and indeed, it overwhelms Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, who accompany Serkin with the sort of commitment that only a conductor and orchestra give to soloists when they are deeply inspired. But while Serkin's 1962 recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto in E flat major is also surely among the greatest recordings of the work ever made, it is not quite Serkin's finest recording of the work.