Latest Music Reviews

Keen Köln Brandenburgs

by David Vernier

The truth is, any of today’s upper-tier period-instrument orchestras worthy of the name can deliver excellent performances of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos; and there are plenty of them already in the catalog, from Tafelmusik (Tafelmusik) to Bach Collegium Japan (BIS), to Le Concert des Nations (Astrée),... Continue Reading

More Distinguished Debussy from Craig Sheppard

by Jed Distler

Following up his splendidly vibrant Debussy Préludes Books I & II, Craig Sheppard presents more Debussy culled from recitals held at Seattle’s Meany Theater. Beginning with Estampes, Pagodes’ dreamy pentatonic motives benefit from the pianist’s uncommonly firm, direct, and brisk treatment. He pushes La Soirée... Continue Reading

Jenö Jandó’s Bartók cycle continues

by Jed Distler

Collectors who’ve appreciated Jenö Jandó’s stylish authority throughout the first six volumes of Naxos’ Bartók solo piano music cycle will find no surprises with Volume Seven. The pianist begins with a masterful account of the Op. 6 Bagatelles. He characterizes No. 1’s folk-like melodic line... Continue Reading

McGegan Does It Again In Haydn 57, 67, and 68

by David Hurwitz

A few years ago Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra released a glorious disc containing Haydn symphonies Nos. 88, 101, and 104. Well, they’ve done it again, and their achievement is even more impressive in that this time they have chosen three relatively unknown,... Continue Reading

Paul Lewis’ Mussorgsky and Schumann: Serious Mastery

by Jed Distler

Paul Lewis’ recording of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition has many outstanding characteristics. He takes the opening Promenade at a true Allegro giusto, and fuses the music’s declamatory and lyrical qualities while underlining the harmonic surprises through voicing and touch. Gnomus seems a little more... Continue Reading

Yes, There Are Great Spanish String Quartets–By Chapí

by David Hurwitz

Ruperto Chapí (1851-1909) is best known for a string of splendid Zarzuelas, the most famous of which is probably La Revoltosa, but he composed works in many different media and was a very well-trained composer generally. Naxos has a fine disc of his orchestral music,... Continue Reading

A Cozy Mahler Eighth Symphony

by Victor Carr Jr

This is a nice, well-behaved Mahler 8th, which benefits from conductor Markus Stenz’s energized pacing, along with alert orchestral playing and lively and refreshing choral work. Of particular note is how Stenz launches the “development” (Accende lumen sensibus) at full throttle, then keeps going this... Continue Reading

NY Philharmonic Nielsen Cycle Concludes on a High Note

by David Hurwitz

Nielsen was a high energy composer, perfectly suited to a “muscle” orchestra like the New York Philharmonic. Listening to these two performance we are reminded how the world of classical recordings has been taken over by orchestras of the second rank–professionally adequate, ambitious, able to... Continue Reading

Major Discoveries: Piano Concertos by Tansman and Boulanger

by David Hurwitz

Here’s an excellent concept program (interesting music composed roughly contemporaneously) that’s almost derailed by yet another mediocre recording of Rhapsody in Blue. Pianist David Greilsammer twists the tempos around like taffy in his solos, with results alternately boring and mannered. Sloane and the orchestra aren’t... Continue Reading

Kaufmann’s Popular Success

by David Vernier

Projects such as this can go so horribly wrong. Opera singers trying to perform “lighter” fare usually do no favors either to themselves or to the music. Only rarely does a classically trained singer working exclusively in that world show an ability to  convincingly capture... Continue Reading

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