Latest Music Reviews

Understated Fauré

by Jed Distler


The third release in Jean-Claude Pennetier’s complete Fauré piano music cycle mixes and matches genres in performances that for the most part are intimate and understated. This certainly befits the music’s refined keyboard writing and boundless harmonic sleights-of-hand, especially in the substantial and difficult-to-sustain Nocturne... Continue Reading

Cyprien Katsaris: Still the Transcription King

by Jed Distler


Cyprien Katsaris returns to the Sony/BMG fold with Piano Mascarade, a two-disc anthology whose subtitle roughly translates “The most amazing piano transcriptions of Symphonic, Operatic, and Choral Masterpieces”. Most of the recordings have previously appeared on Katsaris’ own Piano 21 label, and span four decades.... Continue Reading

Scintillating Schulhoff, Dynamic Dvorák

by David Vernier


The primary reason to care about this recording is the presence of two Erwin Schulhoff works: the tempest in a teapot Quartet No. 1 and the clever, expert, and stylistically facile Esquisses de Jazz, its original piano version arranged here for string quartet by Dutch... Continue Reading

Shaker Songs In New Light

by David Vernier


This was a nice idea: take a selection of songs–28 in all–from the rich and vast repertoire of Shaker music, and, while preserving as much of their original character as possible, arrange them for choral ensemble. Preserving their original character meant keeping the tunes and... Continue Reading

Martynov’s Beethoven/Liszt Cycle Nears Completion

by Jed Distler


Yury Martynov’s period-instrument Beethoven/Liszt symphony survey nears completion with the Fourth and Fifth, and if you’ve been following the cycle from the start you’ll know what to expect. Martynov’s italicizations of phrase and tempo manipulations in the Fifth Symphony’s first-movement exposition are extreme to the... Continue Reading

A Compellingly Idiosyncratic Brahms Recital

by Jed Distler


Sophie-Mayuko Vetter is a multi-faceted musician who composes, improvises, works in musicology, and studied to be a master overtone singer in the tradition of her late father Michael Vetter. She’s also a remarkably individual pianist. Vetter approaches Brahms’ late piano pieces freely, stretching out phrases... Continue Reading

Chant Redux

by David Vernier


Hey, buddy! Wanna sell a million records? Join a monastery–or better yet, start your own, get your fellow monks together, and make a disc of Gregorian chant; call it “Meditation”, or “Mirabilis”, or–“Benedicta”. For some reason that no one has ever been able to explain,... Continue Reading

Major Discoveries: Quincy Porter’s Excellent Quartets, Vol. 2

by David Hurwitz


New Havenite Quincy Porter’s music has always struck me as quintessentially that of a New Englander, in a good way: serious, well-crafted, emotionally reserved but not cold or passionless, rugged and with a bit of an edge. It’s similar in its neo-classical cast to that... Continue Reading

Oddities & Trifles, Valentini & Acronym

by David Vernier


Certainly the disc’s title is intriguing. But based on past experience, listening to many recordings with similar hooks where some obscure yet supposedly worthy music just didn’t live up to its billing, the most I expected was an hour of pleasantly undemanding background entertainment. My... Continue Reading

Zimmermann Shines in Mozart Violin Concertos

by David Hurwitz


Frank Peter Zimmermann is an excellent violinist, and an ideal Mozart interpreter. His rhythms are clean and crisp, his ornamentation appropriate, his vibrato always tasteful and expressive, and the tempos he and conductor Radoslaw Szulc adopt well-nigh ideal. Indeed, Mozart seems to represent the dividing... Continue Reading

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