Latest Music Reviews

Staier’s Great Haydn Keyboard Concertos Reissued

by David Hurwitz

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This is one terrific disc, back in classy “Harmonia Mundi Gold” packaging. Haydn’s piano concertos are all early-to-middle-period works, and they have gotten something of a bum rap on account of the fact that they are not by Mozart. This isn’t entirely fair. All of... Continue Reading

Walter Gieseking Rarities

by Jed Distler

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The legendary pianist Walter Gieseking (1895-1956) began his prolific recording career with sessions for the German Homochord label between 1923 and 1927. While many Gieseking Homochords have previously turned up on CD, APR brings the complete series together in a two-CD set, including several items... Continue Reading

Soft-Grained Voríšek

by Jed Distler

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Although he died at age 34, Bohemian composer Jan Vaclav Voríšek (1791-1825) lived a full and productive life. He studied and practiced law, became a court organist, met his idol Beethoven and befriended Schubert (he also knew Spohr and Moscheles), and gained renown for his... Continue Reading

Netopil’s Misguided Glagolitic Mass

by David Hurwitz

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Janácek “specialist” Tomás Netopil claims to be playing the “September 1927 version” of the Glagolitic Mass. Problem is, there’s no such thing, if by that we mean a fully finished edition. The work was premiered three months later, in December. That “original” score has been... Continue Reading

Rubinova’s Beethoven: More Fingers Than Music

by Jed Distler

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Evgenia Rubinova’s 2006 EMI solo debut left the impression of a pianistically proficient yet musically shallow artist. Little has changed in the interim. Rubinova begins Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” sonata promisingly, launching into the first movement with complete technical assurance and linear cogency. Her firm yet flexible... Continue Reading

Hit And Miss Cellos From Northwestern

by David Vernier

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A little more than 20 years ago a record label called Cala released a series of discs that featured various single-instrument ensembles–violins, violas, horns, trombones–with participants from different London orchestras performing arrangements of mostly familiar works by famous composers: Saint-Saëns, Rachmaninov, Casals, Dvorák, Ravel, Debussy,... Continue Reading

Zlata Chochieva’s Chopin Études

by Jed Distler

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A fellow piano critic alerted me to the young Russian pianist Zlata Chochieva’s Chopin Études, praising them to the skies as he urged me to hear them at the earliest opportunity. I don’t quite share my friend’s unequivocal enthusiasm, but much of Chochieva’s playing indeed... Continue Reading

Victorian Demonic Opera–Balfe’s Satanella

by Robert Levine

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Please let me make clear that the words “light opera” usually make me cringe, but from the finely orchestrated three-minute overture, which starts demonically, goes straight to sweetly angelic music, and just decides to be tuneful and introductory, this work—silly, campy, and unbelievable as it... Continue Reading

Fine My Country From The Country

by David Hurwitz

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Every Czech conductor has to record Smetana’s Má vlast as a rite of passage, but not all of them do it as well as Mark Stilec does here. I have no idea where Hradec Králové is, but the town’s orchestra plays very well for him,... Continue Reading

Suk’s Underrated and Undervalued Piano Works

by Jed Distler

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Unlike his massive orchestral tone poems, most of Josef Suk’s piano music is smaller in scale and often elegiac in nature. Yet it also is skillfully and idiomatically deployed for keyboard, and you can only wonder why pianists generally ignore such substantial, imaginative, and communicative... Continue Reading

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