Listeners seeking a single box of all Haydn's solo keyboard music performed on a fortepiano and recorded in digital sound need look no further. Pianist Ronald Brautigam's 15-disc set for BIS contains everything the great Austrian classical composer wrote for the instrument: the 63 piano sonatas and the 25 miscellaneous works, plus The Seven Last Words of our Savior on the Cross in a keyboard arrangement authorized by the composer.
"…In short, this CD is a delight from begin to end. It will make you want to see and hear the two pieces performed live because only then can one fully enjoy the virtuosic playfulness and beauty of the musical interchange between the two pianos in the Concerto in E flat major; not to mention the pure divertimento of the Concerto in F major, which is a recreational, uplifting and entertaining." ~musicweb-international
"…In the hands of Willems and Brautigam, this masterpiece is given a first class performance, particularly in its buoyant Finale, a sonata-rondo in which the piano and orchestra really are cavorting joyfully together. The two concertos on this disc's menu may well offer the best performances of the series so far, yielding first class solo and orchestral playing as well as the best recording of any period Mozart concerto series at this time." ~sa-cd.net
Joseph Martin Kraus, the German-born Swedish composer who was an almost exact contemporary of Mozart, is primarily known as a late classical symphonist of extraordinary importance, and heretofore this is where recording of his output has been concentrated. On Bis' Joseph Martin Kraus: The Complete Piano Music, pianist Ronald Brautigam comes to terms with the slim amount of keyboard music that belongs to Kraus, a cycle previously addressed on Naxos by pianist Jacques Després on a modern instrument. On the Bis, Brautigam uses a reproduced Walther & Sohn fortepiano built by Paul McNulty, an 1802 instrument that has a sound almost indistinguishable from that of a modern piano, except for its more limited range and shorter decay time. This seems to suit Kraus' keyboard music, which is rich in ideas but spindly in texture, a bit better than a modern instrument. Likewise, Després interpretations of Kraus' music sound read through at times and betray a sense of less than complete familiarity. This is not a challenge for Brautigam, who clearly knows, and loves, these willful and eccentric pieces of Kraus.
Haydn’s six Op. 20 string quartets are milestones in the history of the genre. He wrote them in 1772 for performance by his colleagues at the Esterházy court and, unusually, not specifically for publication. Each one is a unique masterpiece and the set introduces compositional techniques that radically transformed the genre and shaped it for centuries to come. Haydn overturns conventional instrumental roles, crafts remarkably original colours and textures, and unlocks new expressive possibilities in these works which were crucial in establishing the reputation of purely instrumental music. The range within the quartets is kaleidoscopic. From the introspective, chorale-like slow movement of No. 1 via the terse and radical quartet No. 3 in G minor to the comic spirit of the fourth in D major, each of the quartets inhabits a distinct musical world. For many, this is some of the greatest music Haydn ever wrote. Playing these seminal works is one of the world’s finest young ensembles, the Doric String Quartet.
This 37-disc box set is the only brand new and fully digital recording of the complete symphonies of Haydn. Performed by the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester (Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra) and conducted by Dennis Russell Davies, the recordings were done live in connection with concerts of the whole cycle. The series received fantastic reviews by the press, and The Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra was awarded the European Chamber Music Prize in 2008. Available at a fantastic price, the set is released to tie in with the 200th anniversary of the composer’s death in 2009.