Latest Music Reviews

Nelsons And The BSO Play Shostakovich: An Auspicious Beginning

by David Hurwitz


It’s good to see the Boston Symphony and its new Music Director working on a big project for a major label, like this new Shostakovich cycle, and doing it so well. True, Boston has no exclusive claim on him. DG has announced that Nelsons will... Continue Reading

Nézet-Séguin Aces Mahler 1

by David Hurwitz


This is as fine a Mahler First as just about any in the catalogue. Yannick Nézet-Séguin has paid his dues and is evidently maturing nicely as an interpreter. His Mahler is passionate, idiomatic, distinctive, technically adept, and excellently played by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.... Continue Reading

Best Rondine On DVD From Berlin

by Robert Levine


This, Puccini’s stepchild opera—once called “the day off of a genius”—used to be a rarity. Against all better judgment, however, it is popping up everywhere nowadays, including, as we can see from this video from March of last year, the Deutsche Oper, Berlin. This makes... Continue Reading

Late Period Moiseiwitsch Rarities From Testament

by Jed Distler


While Benno Moiseiwitsch had passed his prime by the mid-1950s and early 1960s, he could still rise to the occasion, as these previously unpublished live performances and broadcasts sometimes prove. The pianist is on excellent technical form in a 1958 BBC Beethoven “Waldstein” sonata broadcast,... Continue Reading

Fleet, Faceless Dvorák 6th from Orozco-Estrada

by David Hurwitz


Does Andrés Orozco-Estrada really like Dvorak? I’m not so sure. What else explains a performance so lacking in character, played with such a limited range of dynamics, tone and texture? It’s irritating to hear interpretations of this music that treat is as a sort of... Continue Reading

Four-Handed Satie and Stravinsky, Joyful and Uneventful

by Jed Distler


Stravinsky’s two-piano transcription of his 1928 chamber concerto Dumbarton Oaks is seldom performed, for one simple reason: it’s dull. On the piano, Stravinsky’s colorful instrumental interplay and timbral diversity goes for almost nothing. Just compare the brash contrasts between string and woodwind sonorities in the... Continue Reading

Feltsman’s French Suites Dance Off The Page

by Jed Distler


In a 1993 master class that I attended, Vladimir Feltsman critiqued a young pianist’s performance of a Bach Partita for underselling the music’s dance origins. Feltsman’s recording of the Partitas conveyed these characteristics brilliantly, and his French Suites prove equally invigorating. While he doesn’t quite... Continue Reading

Mixed Bag of Monteverdi From Kožená & Marcon

by Robert Levine


This strange release is somewhat off-putting. Much like Christina Pluhar and her L’Arpeggiata, Andrea Marcon and La Cetra Barockorchester take a grand Baroque view of Monteverdi. These are not chaste performances—they’d never be mistaken for readings from an English group, for instance; they are heavily... Continue Reading

Knappertsbusch’s Live ’63 Munich Lohengrin

by Robert Levine


This mostly fine performance of Lohengrin from Munich in 1963 is, I believe, making its first appearance on CD with this Orfeo release. The mono recording, remastered, is quite good, with the voices always audible despite Knappertsbusch’s huge orchestral approach. A pleasant surprise is Kna’s... Continue Reading

Weinberger’s Not Terribly Interesting Orchestral Music

by David Hurwitz


Jaromír Weinberger had a sad life. After the popularity of his comic opera Schwanda the Bagpiper, and its rather annoying Polka and Fugue, his music fell into eclipse. His variations entitled “Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree” enjoyed brief fame around the mid 20th century, but... Continue Reading

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