Latest Music Reviews

Poetic Shostakovich World Premieres

by David Vernier

Aside from his extensive work in opera and oratorio, over the last decade baritone Gerald Finley has put together an impressive collection of recordings of 20th-century song, including complete programs dedicated to works by composers such as Ives, Britten, Ravel, and Barber. This new one,... Continue Reading

“Extended Voices” Finally on CD

by Jed Distler

Issued for the first time on CD courtesy of Arkivmusic.com and Sony/BMG, the 1967 release Extended Voices features works for chorus and for voices altered by electronic means, featuring the Brandeis University Chamber Chorus, conducted by composer Alvin Lucier. I owned the original LP a... Continue Reading

The Pacifica Quartet’s Harrowing Soviet Experience IV

by David Hurwitz

This disc brings the Pacifica Quartet’s Shostakovich cycle to the most satisfying possible conclusion. The last three quartets aren’t exactly easy listening. Curiously, for me anyway, the Fifteenth, which consists of five adagios and an adagio molto Funeral March just for contrast, is the easiest... Continue Reading

An Amadeus Affair to Remember

by Jed Distler

For their second Steinway & Sons release the Anderson & Roe Piano Duo dedicates their highly calibrated keyboard prowess, clever arranging skills, and canny program building on behalf of Mozart. They open with a lithe and beautifully sculpted reading of Busoni’s Duettino concertante, which is... Continue Reading

Fischer’s Bland Mahler Fifth

by David Hurwitz

Iván Fischer offers a strange commentary on the Fifth Symphony in the booklet accompanying this CD. He describes the work as Mahler’s most “Jewish” symphony, proceeding from Jewish lamentation (no argument there) to “a childlike vision of messianic joy” in the finale. That remark strikes... Continue Reading

Max Reger’s (not so) Easy Pieces

by Jed Distler

Take these work titles with a grain of salt, for Reger’s Op. 67 Chorale Preludes and Op. 56 Preludes and Fugues are not all that easy to play. Yet their relatively modest scale might appeal to listeners curious about Reger’s organ music but not wishing... Continue Reading

50 Years Later: The Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center

by Jed Distler

How well I remember borrowing the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center LP from the West Orange, New Jersey public library when I was nine years old, back in 1965, the year after its release. I put it on my little portable stereo record player and was... Continue Reading

OK Turina From Mena And The BBC Phil

by David Hurwitz

Turina’s music is so beautiful and so enjoyable that I wish I could welcome this disc with more enthusiasm. It has some rarities in the form of the vocal works: Poema en forma de canciones, Saeta en forma de salve a la Virgen de la... Continue Reading

Bach’s First Three Cello Suites In A “Double Cycle”

by Jed Distler

Baroque cello or modern cello in the Bach Suites? Why not both? Joel Becktell has recorded a double album featuring two performances of the first three suites, one on Baroque cello, the other on a modern instrument. Aside from Baroque cello’s lower tuning and more... Continue Reading

Bach Across and Back Again

by David Vernier

You’d think they at least could have mentioned the Swingle Singers. If you were around in the ’60s and were listening to music–or if you are a bit–okay, a lot younger but are performing music in a style and sensibility virtually invented by that Paris-based... Continue Reading

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