Latest Music Reviews

Marco Salcito’s Guitar Goldbergs: Quietly Compelling

by Jed Distler

Unlike many Bach works adapted for guitar, the keyboard-specific intricacies of the Goldberg Variations do not easily lend themselves to six strings. In the late 1990s Kurt Rodarmer circumvented these limitations via overdubbing and using a custom-made guitar with an extended bass register. He also... Continue Reading

Emanuel Bach’s Marvelous Mag

by David Vernier

“Magnificent”. Far from just a convenient, catchy word to identify a setting of the Magnificat, in this case it perfectly describes a masterpiece, a 1749 setting of this oft-scored text by J.S. Bach’s arguably most talented son that rivals the father’s own realization, which remains... Continue Reading

Markovina Aces CPE Bach, Plus 25 Greatest Hits In Score

by David Hurwitz

This 26-CD set containing CPE Bach’s complete solo piano works represents a landmark of the highest importance and, more significantly, listening pleasure. Ana-Marija Markovina has made a specialty of playing these works. She previously recorded the Prussian and Württemburg sonatas (for Genuin), but it is... Continue Reading

Second Time’s A Charm for Vänskä’s Lemminkäinen

by David Hurwitz

Osmo Vänskä’s 1999 recording of the four Lemminkäinen legends was a rare disappointment, both interpretively and sonically. BIS knew it, and so the label has been stealthily replacing that edition with these newer recordings. The sad thing is that the older performances are the ones... Continue Reading

Thrilling Maometto II From Garsington

by Robert Levine

When this opera premiered in Naples in 1820 it was a flop. Rossini had been experimenting with structure for years in Naples–attempting to get away from the recit-aria-cabaletta (and repeat) form that was presumed in Italian opera–but apparently had strayed so far that audiences rebelled... Continue Reading

Bobby Mitchell’s Haydn Debut

by Jed Distler

Pianist Bobby Mitchell first came to my attention via his YouTube channel, which offers invigorating performances of Rzewski’s “The People United Will Never Be Defeated” and the Beethoven/Liszt Ninth Symphony among much else. Mitchell’s first commercial solo CD showcases his equally deep immersion in the... Continue Reading

Andrew Davis’ Sombre-to-Sunny Elgar Disc

by Victor Carr Jr

This CD takes us on the proverbial journey from “darkness to light”. Starting with Elgar’s gloomy Cello Concerto (the lugubrious first movement has me envisioning Byron’s Manfred dragging a cello through the Alps) and ending with the composer’s bright and bristling Pomp and Circumstance marches.... Continue Reading

Fischer Puts Bruckner On A Diet

by David Hurwitz

This recording of Bruckner’s Seventh symphony takes just over 56 minutes. To get a sense of what that means, consider the fact that Celibidache takes 53 minutes for the first two movements alone. Only Ormandy on RCA is quicker, by about a minute, while Pesek... Continue Reading

Strange Bedfellows: Mendelssohn and Adams

by David Hurwitz

John Adams’ Violin Concerto is a fine work, and Chad Hoopes plays it very well, with a big tone and confident intonation. The central passacaglia is particularly imposing, but Hoopes also has the virtuoso chops to give the closing toccata a brilliant run for the... Continue Reading

Honeck’s Incandescent Dvorák 8th

by David Hurwitz

There are few things more wonderful in the life of a record collector than a really great recording of a repertory warhorse. It’s not just because greatness provides its own justification. There is always the suspicion, especially after hearing dozens of merely adequate performances of... Continue Reading

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