In 2001, when Gunter Wand was an astonishing 89, he led this live concert from Hamburg with his home orchestra, the North German Radio. Wand was a benign (so far as I know) conservative like Josef Krips, happy if his wrld was circumscribed by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Bruckner, who remained the taples of his repertoire.
A lifelong devotion to Mozart shows through in this genial, quick-moving, sunny reading of the "posthorn" Serenade. The posthorn soloist is fine, the first oboe a bit less so, but everyone's in high spirits. There's not a hint of dullness anywhere, making Wand's one of the best versions outside the period-performance litany. Smiles all around.
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.
Major documents from Rudolf Kempe's later years at the head of the Munich Philharmonic. Beethoven's Fifth, that masterpiece of emotional tension, and his Sixth, all vivid depiction of nature, are both readings of maturity and perfection.
The East German-born Stephan Genz, still in his mid-twenties, brings an engaging voice and glowing dramatic sense to this desirable Beethoven collection. Some of the ballad-like songs undoubtedly suit his rich, warm, darkish timbres especially well (‘Klage’ – ‘Lament’, or the mournful ‘Vom Tode’); yet he relishes, too, the lively patter of ‘Neue Liebe, neues Leben’, which, with Vignoles’s lively accompaniment, takes instant flight. The phrasing is nicely sustained, though Genz’s rather self-conscious, earnest delivery can be fractionally unsteady (chiefly in the descent to cadences, a slight overweighting of second syllables, the arching up towards higher notes, and scattered patches of chromatic detail). Goethe’s ‘Es war einmal ein König’ and Gellert’s ‘Busslied’ both hint at the wider emotional range to which this young singer can aspire. His contrast between the end of Goethe’s poignantly pleading ‘Wonne der Wehmut’ and the lightly alert ‘Sehnsucht’ could not be more charming.
"Conducting the Wiener Philarmoniker 's always been something absolutely unique, starting from my debut in Salisburgo after studying in Vienna. Wondeful string section, great musical tradition and deep understanding of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Strauss' music are typical of this group. It's a true joy making music with them. I am always very grateful when I conduct the Wieners at Musikverein or Staatsoper. It's like coming home." (Claudio Abbado)
Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony is 50 minutes of tragedy, despair, terror, and violence and three minutes of triumph. Premiered in 1953, the best performance is still that conducted by Mravinsky. Yevgeny Mravinsky's June 3, 1955, performance with the Leningrad Philharmonic of Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 is just as great. Mravinsky was the best Soviet conductor and his passionate precision and intense interpretations were as valid for Beethoven as they were for Shostakovich. His interpretations can be hard-driven and sharp-edged, but no one could object to the lucid strength and linear lyricism he brings to the work.