Latest Music Reviews

A New Cycle of Janácek Orchestral Music Begins

by David Hurwitz

First some housekeeping. This version of the suite from The Cunning LIttle Vixen is allegedly the “final” edition prepared by Charles Mackerras, consisting largely of the Talich score (that is, most of Act 1) but with Janácek’s original orchestration restored. According to Janácek scholar John... Continue Reading

A 21st-Century New Zealand Piano Landscape

by Jed Distler

Landscape Preludes consists of 12 piano pieces composed between 2003 and 2007 by 12 different composers from New Zealand. They were commissioned by the New Zealand-based pianist Stephen De Pledge, who also gave their premieres. Their first CD recording, however, features another pianist, Henry Wong... Continue Reading

An Unnecessary Bach Recital from Joshua Bell

by Robert Levine

This is Joshua Bell’s first recording of any of Bach’s music. As you might imagine, the playing is expert, for the most part, and Bell happily uses a very light touch, particularly in the outer movements of the overly familiar concertos. The final movement of... Continue Reading

Lintu’s Light and Lively Messiaen

by David Hurwitz

Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie is no longer a special event. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s good to see the work enter the repertoire, finding itself within the capabilities of most full-time professional ensembles. Hannu Lintu’s performance fits the new paradigm: his conducting has an... Continue Reading

Keyboard Delights by Kabalevsky

by Jed Distler

Although Dmitri Kabalevsky’s concertos and sonatas hardly lack for good recordings, few pay attention to his prolific output of shorter solo piano pieces. That’s a shame, because this composer, if not a towering original, wrote imaginatively and effectively for the keyboard, as the works on... Continue Reading

Peaceful, Reverential, Dull Meditation from Garanca

by Robert Levine

“‘In our album we trace this quest for peace across different lands and eras.” So states mezzo Elina Garanca in the notes accompanying this CD of mostly gentle religious music by mostly well-known composers. Perhaps I’m not tuned in with Elina Garanca’s sense of calm... Continue Reading

Don Giovanni as Philosophical Conundrum; Kweicien Magnificent

by Robert Levine

There used to be an old line about leaving the theater humming the scenery; often it applied to Franco Zeffirelli-like productions–lavish, flowery, big-boned, visually melodious eye-candy. Well, the same might be said for this recent Covent Garden show designed by Es Devlin and directed by... Continue Reading

Alsop Finds Her Footing in Prokofiev’s Second

by David Hurwitz

Marin Alsop’s Prokofiev cycle with the São Paulo Symphony began disappointingly with the Fifth, improved dramatically with the Fourth, and now hits its stride with the Second. Composed, allegedly, with “steel and iron,” or “fire and ice,” or “potassium chloride and sodium bicarbonate,” or whatever,... Continue Reading

Petrenko’s Magnificent, Harrowing “Babi Yar”

by David Hurwitz

Vasily Petrenko’s generally sensational Shostakovich cycle concludes with this powerful and gripping performance of the Thirteenth Symphony. The interpretation is full of distinctive touches: the notably sharp and swift take on the first movement’s “pogrom” music, and perhaps the most brilliant, pointed, and textually specific... Continue Reading

Debussy That’s Just Right

by Jed Distler

Catherine Kautsky is professor of music and chair of keyboard studies at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and boasts an enviable multi-faceted resume of performing and writing credits. Nearly everything about her recording of Debussy’s 24 Preludes is just right, from the relaxed animation and... Continue Reading

View The 50 Latest Music Reviews »

Welcome to Classics Today