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Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph, New Biography by Jan Swafford

51mBQbHwtGLI’d not come across a good, thorough biography of Beethoven (at least not currently in print). It’s good to see this huge (1,100 page) book just out by Jan Swafford, whose biography of Charles Ives I found very interesting. I’ve ordered it, and I’m looking forward to dipping into it to learn more about Beethoven and his times; a fascinating man, in a pivotal period for music.

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DVD Review: Barenboim on Beethoven

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Daniel Barenboim owns Beethoven! Watching this set of DVDs and listening to his magnificent performances shows why Barenboim is clearly the pre-eminent performer of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas. While many will disagree – after all, there are countless recordings by dozens of performers – what comes through after seeing these recitals is the deep familiarity that Barenboim has with the music. Playing these sonatas for some fifty years, they have become a part of him.

This set contains a series of eight recitals that Barenboim performed in Berlin in 2005, together comprising all 32 of the sonatas. Each recital lasts about an hour and a quarter or an hour and a half, and contains four sonatas, early, middle and late. The programs themselves work well, but any selection of sonatas played by Barenboim would be fine. The camera work is among the best I’ve seen for this type of performance; there are enough different camera angles to keep it from being repetitive, and the intensity of watching Barenboim perform is enough to trump the limits of filming. The sound is in PCM stereo or Dolby Digital 5.1; the surround mix is excellent.

CD Review: Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations on Fortepiano, by Andreas Staier

Buy from: | Amazon UK | Amazon FR | Amazon DE I have several recordings of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, and while it is a work I have long appreciated, it wasn’t until I heard this recent disc from Andreas Staier that I really started “getting it.” It’s the most infectiously joyous recording I have […]

Daniel Barenboim’s Beethoven for All: the Symphonies

Decca has released the first in a series of collections of Beethoven’s major works by Daniel Barenboim. With three groups of works planned between now and the end of the year – the symphonies, the 32 piano sonatas, and the 5 piano concertos – this is a major project to provide new recordings of the […]


Writings about Macs, music, and more by Kirk McElhearn