Latest Music Reviews

String Gems From New Zealand

by David Vernier

lilburnquartet

Writing a string quartet is one of the hardest things there is (you know if you’ve tried it), and after the defining works of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven only a handful of composers have succeeded in producing works of equivalent profundity and originality in the... Continue Reading

Hogwood’s Big Vivaldi Box Is No Bargain!

by David Hurwitz

VivaldiHog

Talk about Caveat emptor! With the single exception of the Nisi Dominus, not terribly appealingly crooned by James Bowman, you get all of this music in exactly these versions in another Decca box called “Vivaldi Masterworks”, additionally featuring all of the collections with opus numbers... Continue Reading

Kalmar and Oregon Celebrate American Kitchen Appliances

by David Hurwitz

Range

Someone, somewhere, probably gets paid to come up with the dumb titles of collections such as this, and the tendency to use them is definitely on the increase. No, the “range” in question on this disc devoted to the “Spirit of the American Range” is... Continue Reading

Elegant Chopin From Louis Lortie

by Jed Distler

lortiechopin4

The fourth volume of what promises to be a complete Chopin piano music survey from Louis Lortie contains five nocturnes and the 19 waltzes. Lortie devises a running order that mixes and matches the works to achieve variety and contrast. For example, the youthful E-flat... Continue Reading

Liszt, Not So Transcendental

by Jed Distler

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A less dry and drab acoustic might have cast Jozsef Balog’s Liszt Transcendental Etudes in a more flattering and fluent light. Yet the sonics only underline the pianist’s choppy phrasings and fussy distentions in the A minor Etude, or his tendency to ramble in Paysage.... Continue Reading

Donizetti’s Les Martyrs–Complete and Exciting

by Robert Levine

martyrs

Coming in at a tidy three hours and eight minutes, Donizetti’s huge Les Martyrs, composed (or adapted) for Paris in 1840, is here presented in its fullest conceivable form, including ballet and many passages cut right after the first performances. The opera was a reworking... Continue Reading

Countertenor Sabadus in Brief, Excellent Mozart Recital

by Robert Levine

Valer

Judging from this live concert (with no audience sound whatsoever) Romanian countertenor Valer Sabadus has a big, exciting voice, vibrant and filled with colors. The program is far too brief–there is just 50 minutes of music here and seven-and-a-half of it is taken up with... Continue Reading

George-Emmanuel Lazaridis’ Schubert: True to the text, fresh to the ears

by Jed Distler

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Five years after my favorable 2002 review of George-Emmanuel Lazaridis’ Schumann solo CD debut I welcomed his equally distinctive Liszt B minor Sonata and Paganini Etudes. Lazaridis’ third solo disc, devoted to Schubert, consistently fascinates and almost always convinces. In the A major sonata’s Allegro... Continue Reading

Sirkka-Liisa Kaakinen-Pilch “Negotiates” Bach

by John Greene

Bach

For many violinists, recording a cycle of Bach’s three Sonatas and three Partitas for solo violin has come to represent a rite of passage, a culmination of their art distinguishing their own interpretive values and abilities from those of their peers. Since Yehudi Menuhin offered... Continue Reading

Not First Rate Handel; Not First Rate Performance

by Robert Levine

handeljoshua

Handel’s 1748 oratorio, Joshua, has taken a back seat to Theodora, Samson, Saul, and Hercules, mostly because it simply is not as dramatic and the characters lack depth. In other words, it’s not as good. Composed, along with Alexander Balus, The Occasional Oratorio, and Judas... Continue Reading

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