Latest Music Reviews

Gardner and Little: Great Walton Symphony; OK Concerto

by David Hurwitz

Edward Gardner’s view of William Walton’s First Symphony is exciting enough, but different enough, so that we can spare ourselves the usual “it’s not Previn and the LSO” apologia. Gardner’s performance of the finale is probably the most brilliant yet recorded: swift, bold, and dazzling,... Continue Reading

As Good As It Goetz

by Jed Distler

The tragically short-lived Hermann Goetz (1840-1876) made a modest comeback on disc back in the early 1990s when CPO brought out his complete orchestral works, concertos, and piano chamber music. Twenty years later pianist and scholar Christof Keymer offers the most comprehensive possible collection of... Continue Reading

Gilbert’s Powerful Nielsen Cycle Continues

by David Hurwitz

These are strong, exciting performances of symphonies that demand the sort of bold muscularity in their execution that these artists offer. In Alan Gilbert’s hands the First Symphony sounds extremely confident and wholly mature. It starts with a bang and the tension in the first... Continue Reading

Fine Beethoven from Alessio Bax

by Jed Distler

If you happened to see Daniel Barenboim’s 2003 Beethoven master classes on DVD, you might remember an unusually poised young pianist, Alessio Bax, who chose the “Hammerklavier” sonata’s daunting final movement. Fast-forward 11 years to Bax’s recording of the complete work, coupled with the composer’s... Continue Reading

Meistersinger As Budding Romanticism and Flight of Imagination

by Robert Levine

Despite Stefan Herheim’s concept and staging for this 2013 Salzburg Festival Die Meistersinger, which is sometimes confounding and in many ways too fantastical, viewers/listeners won’t be bored for a moment. It begins with a music-free introductory pantomime depicting Sachs, in nightshirt and cap, stumbling about... Continue Reading

Couperin’s Ethereal Apothéoses

by David Vernier

Sometime in the 1980s an ensemble called Fretwork released a recording that captured the sound and style of viol consort music as had never been done with such technical brilliance and affecting musicality. And the recorded sound was extraordinarily rich and warmly resonant, the melodies... Continue Reading

Paul Badura-Skoda Revisits Mozart

by Jed Distler

Paul Badura-Skoda has been recording Mozart sonatas since the 1950s, including two complete cycles: one from 1978-81 for Eurodisc on a modern-day concert grand, the other from 1984-90 for Naïve using a 1790 Johann Schantz Viennese fortepiano. In February 2013 the 85-year-old pianist revisited K.... Continue Reading

Kolesnikov’s Subtle and Sensitive Tchaikovsky

by Jed Distler

In 1875 the St. Petersburg music magazine Nouvellist commissioned Tchaikovsky to contribute 12 piano pieces, one for each month of the year. Although the composer evidently tossed them off with little effort, the music’s melodic charm and emotional directness still hold appeal for today’s audiences... Continue Reading

Music for Scordatura Violins

by David Vernier

These works for “mistuned” violins provide a programmatically unique and musically very satisfying foray into repertoire that was very popular in the 16th to early 18th centuries. There’s nothing stylistically groundbreaking here–it’s all well within the framework of Baroque practice; however the sound of the... Continue Reading

Hamelin Bonds with Janácek and Schumann

by Jed Distler

Marc-André Hamelin’s effortless mastery of the piano literature’s most stamina-testing and technically daunting challenges tends to overshadow his sensitive musicianship and tasteful sophistication in more intimately scaled fare, such as the two Schumann cycles presented here. In Waldszenen, Hamelin’s lyrical gifts shine throughout the opening... Continue Reading

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