Latest Music Reviews

Reference Recording: Brecon Baroque’s Luminous L’Estro Armonico

by David Vernier


Rachel Podger knows how to play Vivaldi, and she has proven it on previous acclaimed recordings (reviewed here) of the Op. 4 concertos (“La stravaganza”) and Op. 9 “La Cetra”. Going back over my comments for those performances–“stunning, fiercely energetic, ardently expressive, and technically assured”;... Continue Reading

A Standard-Setting DG Debut for Murray Perahia

by Jed Distler


With the Six French Suites, Murray Perahia’s first release under contract to Deutsche Grammophon continues his standard-setting Bach legacy that began at Sony Classical with the English Suites in 1997 and 1998. That it took three years for the present 2013 sessions to finally appear... Continue Reading

Cristian Budu’s Debut: A Formidable Piano Personality

by Jed Distler


In 2013 Cristian Budu became the first Brazilian pianist to win the International Clara Haskil Competition. One byproduct of his victory is his first solo CD, and it adds up to an impressive debut release by a young pianist who already is a formidable piano... Continue Reading

Meyerbeer’s Wispy Dinorah As Good As It Can Get

by Robert Levine


Here is an opera plot that makes Il trovatore play like King Lear. Lovely, innocent, mad-as-a-hatter Dinorah (soprano) has only her pet goat Bellah (a silent part) to lean on after her house has burned down the previous year on her wedding day in a... Continue Reading

Forgotten Charmers From The Piano’s Golden Age

by Jed Distler


This delightful disc serves as a reminder that many keyboard practitioners from the piano’s so-called “Golden Age” also were composers. The name Mischa Levitzki (1898-1941) may not mean anything to other than hard-core pianophiles, yet he was quite popular in his day, and a big... Continue Reading

Weilerstein Aces Shostakovich Cello Concertos

by David Hurwitz


Well now, this is more like it! Alisa Weilerstein is a remarkable artist, but her previous concerto recordings have been crippled either by unappealing couplings (Elgar/Carter–brave but not necessarily smart), uninteresting accompaniments (Dvorák), and/or bad sound (Dvorák again). Here everything goes right. The Bavarian Radio... Continue Reading

Boring Belohlávek Snoozes Through Dvorák’s Slavonic Dances

by David Hurwitz


Let’s not waste our time. Belohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic sleepwalk through Dvorák’s Slavonic Dances from the opening Furiant onwards. This being the Philharmonic, they know the music cold, and that’s exactly the problem. They aren’t even trying. Compare this to any number of recordings... Continue Reading

Passion Week From St. Petersburg, 1923, Resurrected

by David Vernier


Listeners who are fans of Rachmaninov’s All Night Vigil will find themselves in friendly and familiar territory throughout the 11 movements of Maximilian Steinberg’s Passion Week, a richly scored, unostentatious, often powerful work completed in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1923 but not performed until 2014.... Continue Reading

Adams’ Scheherazade.2–A 21st Century Rethinking

by Robert Levine


This remarkable four-movement, 48-minute work for solo violin, orchestra, and cimbalom (a hammered dulcimer) packs quite a wallop. Composer John Adams explains that he was inspired to challenge the legend of Scheherazade (and Rimsky-Korsakov’s) after seeing an exhibit at The Museum of the Arab World... Continue Reading

Major Discoveries: Fux’s Relentlessly Cheerful Concentus

by David Hurwitz


Concentus Musico-instrumentalis (let’s call it “Concentus” for short) consists of seven big works: two sinfonias, four overtures, and a serenade. What differentiates one from the other is anybody’s guess, beyond the title of the opening numbers, as all consist of multiple short movements containing the... Continue Reading

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