Americans is a winningly-programmed, strongly-realized effort.
Any number of threads that tie these three pieces (and composers) together. But in this instance, such busywork is superfluous: the musical results – blazingly played and flawlessly recorded – speak for themselves.
One might risk hyperbole by saying so, but in this instance such recklessness is worth it: this album sounds like Brahms as he ought to be played and sung.
A captivating and thought-provoking version of Missa solemnis from René Jacobs and his forces; the Michael Gielen Edition is one of this Beethoven anniversary-year’s highlights.
Violinist James Ehnes and pianist Andrew Armstrong’s Beethoven violin sonatas feel and sound absolutely right; Quatuor Ébène’s comes up with one of this anniversary year’s few, true benchmark releases; Nikolai Lugansky’s traversal of three of Beethoven’s late piano sonatas is often admirable.
Seiji Ozawa’s Symphony no. 7 and Leonore Overture no. 3 offers a memorable blend of color, atmosphere, purpose, and soul; François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles serve up a satisfactory, period-instrument Symphony no. 5; Thomas Adès’ take on Beethoven is concentrated and energetic, if a bit impersonal.
Three new discs do right by Beethoven’s chamber music.
A round-up of fresh performances of Beethoven Concerti.
Evaluations of a smorgasbord of Beethoven symphony recordings.
It’s Beethoven’s 250th birthday year: reviews of four sets of the complete piano concertos from, respectively, Paul Lewis, Stewart Goodyear, Inon Barnatan, and Stephen Hough.