Beginning this summer and extending through the fall to the holidays, Decca presents Beethoven for All, a major series of recordings of Ludwig van Beethoven s complete symphonies, piano concertos and piano sonatas with conductor-pianist Daniel Barenboim one of the greatest Beethoven interpreters of our time. The first installment in the series comes June 19 - a two-for-one CD set of highlights from Decca s complete Barenboim-Beethoven series Beethoven for All: Music of Power, Passion and Beauty. This set features select movements from the new recordings of the symphonies, piano concertos and piano sonatas. Speaking to Barenboim s unique gravitas as a dual performer in this music, the U.K. s Observer said: There is no artist alive capable of performing both roles as authoritatively, originally and effectively as pianist-conductor Daniel Barenboim. Also on June 19th comes a five-CD set of Beethoven s Symphonies Nos. 1-9 with Barenboim leading the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, an ensemble acclaimed the world over for imbuing fresh, irresistible life into the classics. Of Barenboim s concerts with this orchestra of multi-national talent, The New York Times said that the conductor s penchant for spontaneous music-making clearly excites these young players, resulting in performances that are impassioned and risky. In August, the Beethoven for All series continues with a five-CD set of Beethoven s Piano Concertos Nos. 1-5 with Barenboim leading the Staatskapelle Berlin from the keyboard. The Financial Times gave high praise to Barenboim s playing of Beethoven with his Berlin players: The performance bore the hallmark of greatness, if only because of Barenboim s willingness to take risks. In his rapt opening bars, he opened the audience s ears; then he let the music fly, not just in his own quasi-improvisatory flourishes at the keyboard but also in the way he and his orchestra explored the music s expressive contrasts. By generating a lot of flexibility within a given tempo, he created a sense of surprise. However well-worn the music, it never sounded predictable.
In October, Decca will release a 10-CD set of Barenboim in new recordings of Beethoven s Piano Sonatas Nos. 1-32. About this monumental cycle often dubbed The New Testament of Music the pianist has said: There is hardly another output from any composer that gives such a clear picture of his development. Reviewing Barenboim s performance of the cycle in London, The Observer singled out his way with great Hammerklavier Sonata No. 29, to which he brought an operatic richness, especially fine in the expressive lyricism of the adagio, a stark contrast to the thundering grandeur of the opening movement and the infectious energy of the intricate finale. The cumulative effect was to leave the audience elated but shattered as the music, and its performer, seemed reborn.
Finally, in November marking Barenboim s 70th birthday Decca will release a deluxe, limited-edition boxed set of the complete Beethoven for All series that includes the complete symphonies, piano concertos and piano sonatas, along with bonus material.