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Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos

Beethoven for Three Symphonies Nos. 2 and 5

Sony Classical
Release Date: March 4, 2022

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1 Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36 arr. Ferdinand Ries / I. Adagio molto — Allegro con brio?  
2 II. Larghetto quasi andante  
3 III. Scherzo. Allegro vivo  
4 IV. Allegro molto  
5 Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 - arrangement by Colin Matthews / I. Allegro con brio  
6 II. Andante con moto  
7 III. Scherzo. Allegro  
8 IV. Allegro  
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Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, and Yo-Yo Ma's new album, Beethoven for Three: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 5, is available now on Sony Classical. The recording erases the border between orchestral and chamber music, presenting two of Beethoven's iconic symphonies in intimate arrangements that maintain the power and immediacy of Beethoven's orchestral works. 

Beethoven for Three transports listeners to the turn of the nineteenth century, when audiences would have been more familiar with the composer’s music in arrangements for piano trio, string quartet, or piano four hands than for full orchestra. Here, Ax, Kavakos, and Ma seek out the most essential elements of Beethoven's musical language, pairing his second symphony, arranged for trio by Beethoven's pupil Ferdinand Ries, with his fifth — among the most recognizable pieces in western classical music — in a newly-commissioned arrangement by Colin Matthews.

Performing the symphonies on three instruments is a challenge that yields a wealth of insights about Beethoven’s writing process. “The idea of actually being able to play the beginning of the fifth symphony with your hands is just an incredible thrill,” says Ax. “And you learn a lot about his kind of combination of controlled mania with an incredible lyricism — and you get so much of that in both the fifth symphony and the second. It was an incredible thrill to work on this over and over and over, just trying to get the notes.”

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