"Barenboim continues to favour a forceful, big-scale reading with often deliberate speeds for the slower numbers, a musically accomplished, thought-through account of the crucial finales to Acts 2 and 4, lively treatment of the recitative, finely-honed playing of the wind, alert rhythms and an avoidance for the most part of appoggiaturas…John Tomlinson is much better suited by Figaro than he was by Alfonso, but still wants in tonal focus…but he does at all times create a lively personality, a force to be reckoned with…" (Gramophone)
In the early 1990s Daniel Barenboim recorded the three Da Ponte operas with the Berlin Philharmonic. The BPO had played "Figaro" and "Don Giovanni" many times, but this was the first time that the group had ever tackled "Cosi fan tutte." Perhaps that is why they sound so fresh and energized under the thoughtful baton of Barenboim. Mozart's operas are usually performed with a small chamber or opera house orchestra, but this time the score of "Cosi" (which has so many beautiful, subtle touches, and is almost a celebration of beauty itself) is given the full treatment of perhaps the greatest orchestra in the world. While the resulting sound is somewhat "bigger" and more "lush" than is usual, Barenboim does manage to keep things appropriately light and "classical," just as he has so successfully done in the piano concertos which he is recording with the BPO.
The Grammy award-winning pianist Daniel Barenboim, long known for his Mozart interpretations, turns his attention to Mozart's last 8 piano concertos. The music of Mozart has quite literally been an essential driving force of Daniel Barenboim’s entire life. It remains central to his performing career both as a pianist and as a conductor. These illuminating performances of Mozart’s last eight great piano concertos admirably demonstrate Barenboim’s dictum that even when a true musician has already performed a familiar work hundreds of times, he or she ‘never accepts that the next note will be played the same way as it was played before.’
EMI invited Daniel Barenboim to record the complete series, with the English Chamber Orchestra, as conductor and soloist. The recordings were made at London's Abbey Road Studios between 1967 and 1974.
…Another justification, of course, is the obvious enthusiasm of the young players as they make their way through a curtain-raising Mozart Sinfonia Concertante, with its collection of diverse but harmonious instrumental elements, and through Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, with its durable resonances of hope amid warfare. This concert was recorded live in Ramallah in August 2005, under heavy guard. The logistical preparations of the concert, Barenboim says, could fill a book. But maybe that's a book that should be written, for the bottom line is that the concert took place and ended with an explosion of applause…
The Verdi Requiem, though is even better, and receives even better performances. When this was made in 1969-70, all four principals were at the top of their form. Montserrat Caballé was at her best in the 60's through around 1972, and here she shows herself to be THE Verdi soprano of the last forty years. Her large, clear, glorious voice, seamless legato and magical pianissimi are heard to great advantage here. Her "Libera me" is a masterpiece of sound and vocal acting. Fiorenza Cossotto was similarly in her prime here, and she is stunning - powerful in the "Liber scriptus" yet capable of soft, tender singing and her "Lux aeterna" haunts the ear. Jon Vickers is an unusual tenor.
Many listeners who know Beethoven's symphonies, concertos, piano sonatas, or quartets are unfamiliar with his five sonatas for cello and piano. But this genre finds Beethoven at the top of his form. Even though Beethoven composed only five of these works, he wrote them during each of his major styles, from the early works of opus 5, to the great middle-period work, opus 69, and to the final two sonatas of opus 102, similar in style to the late piano sonatas and quartets. Only the symphonies, string quartets, piano sonatas, and the five cello sonatas show Beethoven in all three of his "manners" of composition. The cello sonatas show Beethoven at his best in each period.