Latest Music Reviews

An Elora Choral Christmas

by David Vernier

Along a bend in the Grand River lies Elora, billed as “Ontario’s most beautiful village…”–and if you’ve ever visited there, you wouldn’t disagree with the description. And if you happened to be in the neighborhood and were able to attend one of the Elora Festival... Continue Reading

Ross Harris Symphony No. 4: Well-Intentioned but…

by David Hurwitz

New Zealand composer Ross Harris’ Symphony No. 4 was commissioned by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. It is subtitled “To the Memory of Mahinarangi Tocker,” a New Zealand poet and songwriter. Each of its five movements appends a text by Tocker, rather unhelpfully to be honest.... Continue Reading

Motherland: Khatia Buniatishvili Calms Down

by Jed Distler

“A unique selection of magical piano moments that have shaped Khatia’s life,” reads the sticker on what appears to be a gimmicky concept album, but in fact turns out to be a carefully crafted program of 17 mostly short, introspective pieces by as many composers.... Continue Reading

Historical Gems: Klemperer’s Incandescent ’56 German Requiem

by David Hurwitz

Captured in very good mono broadcast-quality sound, with an impressively present organ, this 1956 performance is stunning. It has appeared previously (on a pirate label), but this official release boasts substantially finer sonics. The choral singing isn’t as great as in Klemperer’s stereo remake–the singers... Continue Reading

Walter Saul’s Succinct, Delightful Preludes and Fugues

by Jed Distler

A good distributor makes a difference. Why else would this 2002 release have just reached me for review purposes in 2014? It happily brings the music of Walter Saul to my attention. Dr. Saul is a composer, pianist, and educator based in Fresno, California, whose... Continue Reading

A Curious Christmas From Clare College

by David Vernier

This is a strange program. It’s interesting, for sure, and very well sung by one of the world’s finest English choirs (ah, those sopranos!)–but it seems more like a random compilation than an organized program, and indeed doesn’t quite live up to its description as... Continue Reading

A Desirable Rachmaninov/Tchaikovsky Coupling

by Jed Distler

This disc commands attention for both sonic and artistic reasons. The splendid surround-sound engineering places you among the Trio Testore’s members, as if you’re hearing with their ears, while absorbing the discreetly resonant ambience from a close-up audience perspective. In Rachmaninov’s youthful one-movement Trio Élégiaque,... Continue Reading

CD From Hell: Boulez Defeated In Moscow

by David Hurwitz

Yikes! Just as the Russian winter defeated Napoleon, so the students of the Moscow conservatory trounced music’s own Little Corporal, Pierre Boulez, on a blustery March day in 1990. The program is vintage Boulez, but these players are kids, and they play like kids. The... Continue Reading

Reference Recording: Martinon’s Sultry, Smoking Schmitt

by David Hurwitz

There have been several new recordings of Schmitt’s most famous work, the tone poem The Tragedy of Salome, but none has eclipsed Martinon’s for sheer excitement and textural interest. If you haven’t heard the way he whips up the climax in the closing pages (sound... Continue Reading

Berio’s Sinfonia Becomes Basic Rep on Ondine

by David Hurwitz

With this release, it’s probably safe to say that Berio’s iconic Sinfonia has become a repertory staple. It certainly has enjoyed enough recordings, starting with the composer’s own, and including versions by Boulez, Eötvös, Bychkov, and Chailly. What makes this recording special, in its way,... Continue Reading

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