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BEETHOVEN EDITION
Idil Biret's nineteen volume Beethoven Edition consisting of the thirty two sonatas, five concertos, the choral fantasy and the piano transcriptions of the nine symphonies (by Franz Liszt) was recorded in fifty two days during a long period which spread over of twenty three years. In the spring of 1985 when Jacques Leiser, then Idil Biret's agent in the USA, introduced Biret to Michel Devos, an independent producer in Belgium, he could not have imagined that this would lead to a recording odyssey lasting over twenty years, taking her through Beethoven's complete sonatas, concertos and symphony transcriptions. Initially a single LP of a different composer's work for EMI Belgium was contemplated. However, when Michel Devos suggested an LP with the Liszt transcriptions of two Beethoven symphonies (4th and 5th), Idil Biret who had earlier recorded the Liszt transcriptions of Berlioz, Schubert and Wagner works, agreed immediately. When these recordings were found to be of exceptionally high quality by EMI, Idil Biret was asked to record all the nine symphonies which were then released by EMI internationally in a box set of six LPs during the Liszt centennial in 1986 and gained universal acclaim (see "Making of the Beethoven Symphonies" on the website)

. After an interval of eight years, Biret went back to Brussels in 1994 to record three sonatas of Beethoven to test how these would sound in the same location where the symphonies were recorded (St. Bavon Church at Chamont Gistoux near Brussels). The decision was then made in 2001 to record all the remaining sonatas and to release them together with the nine symphonies (the copyrights of which had been recovered from EMI earlier) on Idil Biret's own label Idil Biret Archive (IBA). With one or two sessions a year where a number of sonatas was recorded in each, the work was completed in 2008. All the works of Beethoven for piano and orchestra including the Choral Fantasy were also recorded in January/February of 2008 with the Bilkent Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit, the music director of the Warsaw Philharmonic.

Klaus Heymann, the founder and owner of Naxos, read about the Beethoven sonata recordings in the book on Idil Biret's life "A Turkish Pianist on the Concert Stages of the World" published in France by Buchet-Chastel in 2006 and in Germany by Staccato Verlag in 2007 and proposed to distribute these and other IBA recordings internationally. The first volume of the Beethoven Edition was released on IBA in December 2008 and nineteenth and last volume in April 2011 thus bringing to completion Idil Biret's Beethoven odyssey after nearly a quarter of a century. This edition is also an homage to Wilhelm Kempff, Idil Biret's mentor, with whom she worked on all the Beethoven sonatas and concertos over many years.

These CDs are now being released in four box sets. Individually, the Sonatas on 10 CDs, Symphonies on 6 CDs and Concertos on 3 CDs as well as a complete set of the whole edition on 19CDs together with a DVD containing a short documentary film on the making of the Beethoven recordings by Idil Biret and the live concert recordings of the Concertos 2, 3, 4, 5.

BEETHOVEN PERFORMANCE REVIEWS OF IDIL BIRET IN CONCERTS

"To play Beethoven's Piano Sonata Op. 31 No.1 in front of and 'in the shadow of' Wilhelm Backhaus, on his birthday, must certainly be the highest demand on a young interpreter. Idil Biret has taken up this challenge and brilliantly overcome it. Her playing is full of temperament and nerve, her technical skill as impressive as her sense of shape and nuances. When at the end of the concert Backhaus so cordially thanked his colleague, she was entitled to consider this as being 'knighted'."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany) - 1969

"Especially with Beethoven's Sonata Op. 10 No. 3 Idil Biret proved herself a great artist with breathtaking depth of expression and dramatic performing power…The big applause was fully deserved."

Kurier(Vienna) - 1970

"Idil Biret, who arriving in Paris at the age of seven astonished Alfred Cortot, Wilhelm Kempff and Marc Pincherle, remains a remarkable pianist who combines brilliant technical skill with the subdued touch, the interior voices, of her mentor Cortot…Beethoven's Sonata Op. 106 (Hammerklavier) brought us the fighter, armed from top to toe, like a valiant Clorinde, combining the most beautiful of styles with a fabulous virtuosity."

Le Monde (France) - 1981

"In Beethovens's third Piano Concerto with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leon Fleisher, Idil Biret gave a precise musical account of the tensions implicit in this music. Her technique was dazzling, her range of expression enormous. This was probably the most powerful and wubtle work of the evening."

Washington Post (USA) - 1984

"Have you thought of a pianist's loneliness? Especially when she is to play all the nine Beethoven Symphonies' piano transcriptions by Liszt. That Biret was given a special place at the Montpellier Festival was not without reason. In the publicity brochure her performance of the complete symphonies in four recitals was announced as "The event of the Festival" …She gave the most eloquent example of the mastery of these works in the performance of the 9th Symphony. The 9th was only recently played in Japan in a stadium with an orchestra filling the entire field and a chorus of ten thousand. Could such extraordinary music be expressed by a single piano? Perhaps it is hard to believe, but in the fearsome loneliness of the piano Beethoven's work gains another meaning and the delivery of the music so plainly brings one closer to its essence, one feels…and while you may not wonder how on the stage a lonely Idil Biret brings to life all the instruments of the orchestra and the layers of sound, you cannot help but applaud this outstanding musician with admiration until the palms of your hand hurt."

Cumhuriyet (Turkey) - 1986

"Idil Biret has recently recorded Liszt's transcriptions of Beethoven's nine Symphonies for EMI. What an authentic 5th Symphony it was, rendered in live performance in her Herkülessaal recital in Munich receiving a thundering ovation."

Münchner Merkur (Germany) - 1986

"The performance of Beethoven's 8th Symphony (in Milan) succeeds in the sustained tension; the prominence of logic in building up the colours; the autonomy as well as the interplay of the parts…Biret conquers by dominating the whole, with an implacable left hand in the Allegretto or with lightness in the fury of Allegro Vivace."

Corrierra Della Serra (Italy) – 1987

"Biret's performance of Beethoven's 5th Symphony was excellent…She played it brilliantly, making a beautiful climax to her recital…The original symphony's image was preserved and Beethoven was always there thanks to the successful delivery of the work by Idil Biret."

Hokkaido (Japan) - 1990

REVIEWS OF IDIL BIRET'S BEETHOVEN RECORDINGS

I. COMPLETE EDITION (19 CD + DVD box) 8.0510901

"Love of Beethoven's works threads through Biret's life like a red ribbon. Her studio recordings and live concerts show this in an unequivocal language… Next to the Piano Concertos, the Triple Concerto and the Choral Fantasy she has also recorded and performed on stage all the Piano Sonatas and Symphony Transcriptions becoming perhaps the only artist to reach this level of completeness… This knowledge of Beethoven one hears in every nuance in Idil Biret's playing."

Piano News (Germany) / Carsten Dürer

"A supreme mastery of tempi, sonorities, polyphony and of course technique permits Biret to embrace all the moods of the great Beethoven and gives her playing a symphonic depth rarely heard until now."

Le Nouvel Observateur (France) / H-L de la Grange

"The performances here truly represent a lifetime of musical thinking and are essential for serious Beethovenians."

All Music Guide (USA) / James Mannheim

"From the outset of the 1st Symphony one feels that Idil Biret grasps the size of Beethoven's style. The polyphony is laid out in a relaxed way with little indulgence in point-making. She keeps her big line, and yet is thankfully sparing in her use of fortissimos… The piano tone is sumptuous. Biret's gentle and almost sensuous sonorities are really captivating… This is a remarkable achievement."

Gramophone (UK) / J. Methuen-Campbell

"Biret's concertos are quite classical in approach. Her articulation is crisp and wonderfully clear, rhythm is firmly controlled, and extremes are avoided. As a result the playing is never pushed, either by excessive speed or wide dynamics. The moderate tempos allow lots of detail to come through, and we find once again the elegance and beauty of Beethoven.The Bilkent Symphony, in Antoni Wit's hands, plays musically, with a fine sense of style."

American Record Guide / Paul L Althouse

"Idil Biret not only recorded all nine of the Beethoven symphonies in less than a year but, in a superhuman feat which astounded all those who know about music, she also publicly performed all of them in four recitals at the Montpellier festival in France. To learn and also memorise scores of such length and difficulty in such a short time is a mind-boggling achievement."

Fonoforum (Germany) / Peter Cossé

II. SONATAS (10 CD box) 8.501053

"Turkish pianist Idil Biret's series of Beethoven Sonatas is emerging as a major statement in the field, entirely different in emphasis from that of Andras Schiff and the other cycles that have appeared in the recent years. She favors slow tempos and a light touch, which brings out small details, all subsumed within a convincing and well thought-out overall architecture…Idil Biret's cycle of Beethoven sonata recordings has been an ongoing delight and a summary of insights gained over a lifetime by a veteran Beethoven interpreter…Her playing is precise without being intellectual…Biret's quiet readings lie at an opposite extreme from the punchy essays of an Andras Schiff…Biret's set is essential listening for the perfect Beethovenian."

All Music Guide (USA)

"When this massive Beethoven/Biret series is issued in full, it will contain 19 CDs housing the complete sonatas, piano concertos, the Choral Symphony and the symphonies (in Liszt's transcriptions). It will be a worthwhile monument to keyboard aficionados and Beethoven mavens, for Idil Biret is one of the finest interpreters of the composer's works of her generation, as these discs certainly attest."

Classical Net (USA)

"In the first volume of the sonatas Biret has wonderful rhythmic control, excellent musical instincts, and a gorgeous sound… playing so self-effacing, so honest, so unexaggerated, so musical…"

American Record Guide (USA)

"Biret grasps the size of Beethoven's style. The polyphony is laid out in a relaxed way with little indulgence in point making. She keeps the big line and yet is thankfully sparing in her use of fortissimos. The piano tone is sumptuous. Biret's gentle and almost sensuous sonorities are really captivating."

Gramophone (UK)

III. CONCERTOS (3 CD box) 8.503069

"Biret's concertos are quite classical in approach. Her articulation is crisp and wonderfully clear, rhythm is firmly controlled, and extremes are avoided. As a result the playing is never pushed, either by excessive speed or wide dynamics. The moderate tempos allow lots of detail to come through, and we find once again the elegance and beauty of Beethoven…The Bilkent Symphony, in Antoni Wit's hands, plays musically, with a fine sense of style."

American Record Guide (USA)

"Clarity, attention to detail and deft sense for drama are in evidence in the performance of the concertos. If Alfred Brendel is lean and classical in his several Beethoven cycles, and Schnabel is driven and intense in his, Biret is monumental, dark and probing…Biret brings out much detail, and phrases the music intelligently throughout. The Bilkent Symphony from Turkey plays well…Antoni Wit (The Music Director of the Warsaw Philharmonic) conducts with a knowing hand, and the sound is vivid and powerful. Biret's cycle of concertos may well go down with the finer recorded efforts, including those of Alfred Brendel."

Classical Net (USA) - 2009

"The performances are fresh and invigorating, gently sensual and spaciously paced. In some way, they are like the playing of Biret's mentor, the great German pianist Wilhelm Kempff, in that they are clear and unpretentious, yet conveying an underlying structure of delicate poetry which can rouse itself on occasion to surprising eloquence and power. Her orchestral partner is the leading Turkish Orchestra, which plays with a sense of subtle textural dimensionality rarely heard in the West. Her conductor is Antoni Wit who contributes a superbly probing and elegantly phrased musical embrace."

Audiophile Audition (USA) - 2009

"Already in the 1980s Idil Biret played all the Liszt transcriptions of Beethoven's Symhonies and established then her special affinity to Beethoven. Her recordings of the 5th Concerto and Choral Fantasy confirm this strongly once again."

Fonoforum (Germany) - 2010

IV. SYMPHONIES (6 CD box) 8.506027

"Listening to Beethoven through Liszt's keyboard transcriptions can put a fresh perspective on these familiar symphonies. Idil Biret has taken on the complete cycle, and I admire her taste, technique and sound musical decisions."

New York Magazine (USA)

"Biret's performance of the 8th Symphony (in Milan) succeeded in the sustained tension; the prominence of logic in building up the colours; the autonomy as well as the interplay of the parts…Biret conquers by dominating the whole, with an implacable left hand in the Allegretto or with lightness in the fury of Allegro vivace."

Corrierra Della Serra (Italy)

"Idil Biret not only recorded all nine of the Beethoven symphonies in less than a year but, in a superhuman feat which astounded all those who know about music, she also publicly performed all of them in four recitals at the Montpellier festival in France. To learn and also memorise scores of such length and difficulty in such a short time is a mind-boggling achievement."

Fonoforum (Germany)

"From the outset of the 1st Symphony one feels that Idil Biret grasps the size of Beethoven's style. The polyphony is laid out in a relaxed way with little indulgence in point making. She keeps the big line and yet is thankfully sparing in her use of fortissimos. The piano tone is sumptuous. Biret's gentle and almost sensuous sonorities are really captivating. One is reminded that her mentor has been Wilhelm Kempff".

Gramophone (UK)

A supreme mastery of tempi, sonorities, polyphony and of course technique permits Biret to embrace all the moods of the great Beethoven and gives her playing a symphonic depth rarely heard until now.

Le Nouvel Observateur (France)

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