A stunning 12-CD box set, Beethoven Unbound, will be released to mark the completion of Llŷr Williams’ monumental Beethoven cycle at Wigmore Hall and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) – recorded live at Wigmore Hall over three years and nine recitals.
As well as the complete piano sonatas, the box set also features other works including the 32 Variations in C minor, Eroica Variations, Opus 126 Bagatelles and the Diabelli Variations, a total of almost 14 hours of music. This is Williams’ fourth album on Signum Classics. Beethoven Unbound is presented in a beautiful hinged box with extensive notes by Misha Donat, and personal notes by Williams and the album’s award-winning producer Judith Sherman, with whom Williams worked previously on his Wagner Without Words release.
Williams comments on the box set and the partnership with Sherman: “Rather than adopt the chronological approach, I have arranged the works roughly in the order that I played them in the concerts, and each CD has been devised as a mini-recital programme. This has sometimes allowed for creativity in putting the pieces together. Working with Judy on this project has been a joy and a privilege. It was sad to reach the end – but at least we still have a Schubert cycle to look forward to!”
Williams has developed a reputation as one of the finest exponents of Beethoven, since giving his first Beethoven cycle in Perth in 2010, and winning a South Bank Sky Arts Award in 2012 for an epic two-week marathon in Edinburgh. The Guardian said of one of his RWCMD cycle recitals in 2016: “Williams’ already considerable stature as a Beethoven interpreter seems to grow with every performance” (Rian Evans, 25 March 2016) and The Independent commented on a Wigmore recital: “Williams treats it [the keyboard] as an extension of his body, and with the three Opus 10 sonatas plus the Diabelli Variations he took us onto an altogether higher plane” (Michael Church, 12 October 2016). 2017 saw the conclusion not only of the solo series at Wigmore Hall and the RWCMD, but also of a complete concerto cycle with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
“To my ears, Llŷr Williams is one of the great pianists of our age.”
John Gilhooly, CBE.
Welsh pianist Llŷr Williams is widely admired for his profound musical intelligence, and for the expressive and communicative nature of his interpretations. He has performed with all the major UK orchestras under conductors including Michael Tilson Thomas, Jiří Bělohlávek, Carlo Rizzi, Vasily Petrenko, Jaime Martín, Osmo Vanska , Joseph Swensen, Grant Llewellyn and Jac Van Steen, and he has a particularly longstanding relationship with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, with whom he has in recent seasons performed concertos ranging from Mozart and Beethoven to Bartók and Mathias.
As a recitalist, Llŷr Williams regularly performs at venues and festivals including Wigmore Hall, Perth Concert Hall, the St David’s and Dora Stoutzker Halls in Cardiff, and the Edinburgh and East Neuk Festivals in the UK, Salle Bourgie in Montreal and the Capital Region Classical series in Schenectady, USA. He has a long association with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where he has, among others, given multi-recital cycles of the music of Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin. As a chamber musician he has performed with artists including Bryn Terfel, Natalie Clein, Tim Hugh, Katarina Nazarova, Jamie Barton and Andrei Kymach. His particular interest in song repertoire is reflected in his 20-year association as one of the two official pianists of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition.
Llŷr Williams’ long and successful collaboration with Signum Records includes the 8-disc box-set ‘A Schubert Journey’ (2020), the 12-volume ‘Beethoven Unbound’ (2018), a ‘Wagner Without Words’ double album (2014) and highlights from Liszt’s ‘Années de pèlerinage‘ (2012).
A former BBC New Generation Artist and Borletti-Buitoni Trust award recipient, Llŷr Williams was born in Pentrebychan, North Wales, and read music at The Queen’s College, Oxford before taking up a postgraduate scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and in 2017 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Wales. He is also currently Artist-in-Association at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, a patron of the Gower Festival, and Associate Artist at the Cowbridge Festival.