Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Beethoven concertos with a chamber music flavour

This new 4-CD set from Capriccio consists of a big chunk of Beethoven's greatest music, most of it from his virile middle period. They've gathered a group of talented musicians who are also in their prime: violinist Isabelle Van Keulen, cellist Julian Steckel, and pianist and conductor Stefan Vladar. It was recorded at Vienna's Synchron Stage in December 2015 and February 2016 over a period of only nine days. This schedule provides the music with a feeling of occasion and excitement that usually comes from a live recording, rather than the more controlled vibe of a normal studio recording.

In this excellent Capriccio video Vladar talks about his tendency to focus on the extreme aspects of Beethoven, in recognition of the composer's revolutionary tendencies. But the hallmark of this project, is, I think, a tasteful, collegial, civilized feeling that comes from the relatively small orchestra and the fact that Vladar is playing and conducting at the same time. Vladar talks about the significance of this:
It’s a lot of fun to view the pieces as expanded chamber music rather than as a solo concerto with orchestra. …the orchestral musicians themselves are challenged to display their chamber musical qualities, since they have to organize a lot of things themselves.
The fine playing in the concertos is a sign of the rapport Vladar has built with the Wiener KammerOrchester since he became their music director in 2008. The entire project demonstrates the power of a relaxed and convivial environment - having fun playing music with friends - to elevate good music into something special.

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