For the casual listener, there are two impediments to enjoying this disc. First, the works are transcriptions of orchestral works for chamber ensembles, and second, both transcriptions are played on a light-toned fortepiano and cat-gutted stringed instruments. But for the dedicated listener who knows and loves Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 and Piano Concerto No. 4 and who accepts and enjoys period instruments, this disc will be pure enjoyment.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his period orchestra, Concentus Musicus Wien, never recorded a complete cycle of the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven, and this 2016 Sony release is their only recording of the Symphony No. 4 in B flat major and the Symphony No. 5 in C minor, made almost ten months before the conductor's death. Harnoncourt planned for this to be his last recording before his retirement, so it inevitably has the feeling of a valedictory performance, and one can also hear it as the orchestra's warm tribute to its leader and his sterling musicianship.
This set of recordings of Tchaikovsky's last three symphonies by Valery Gergiev leading the Vienna Philharmonic contains performances that are undeniably fire-breathing, undoubtedly heaven-storming, and inarguably heart-on-sleeve. Gergiev, one of the most exciting Russian conductors, leads the works with a combination of reckless passion, imperious command, and unbearable drama that is his hallmark, and the Vienna Philharmonic.
This CD accompanied BBC Music Magazine Vol. 25 No. 9. In our June issue, we enjoy an exclusive interview with Sir Mark Elder as the Hallé’s conductor turns 70 and present a free cover CD of the orchestra performing Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4, ‘The Inextinguishable’.
Carlos Kleiber was perhaps the most highly regarded conductor of the late 20th century, but his relatively few excursions into the studio have left the musical world with a frustratingly small number of recordings. Thus we are particularly fortunate that, from among the relatively few appearances in his career, several concerts, one operetta and two operas were filmed. This concert with the Bayerisches Staatsorchester from Munich's Herkulessaal in October 1996 was on of his last.
Schubert's 'Tragic' Symphony and Mozart's 'Paris' Symphony are performed by the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Wiener Musikvereinsaal in 1984. Harnoncourt goes back to Schubert's original manuscripts to perform the music in its purest form. Harnoncourt joined forces with The Chamber Orchestra of Europe for Mozart's last symphonies (Nos. 39-41), performed at the Wiener Musikvereinssaal in 1991. Known throughout the world for his highly original approach to classical music, conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt reveres Mozart as 'the most romantic composer of all'.