Latest Music Reviews

Paul Badura-Skoda Revisits Mozart

by Jed Distler

Paul Badura-Skoda has been recording Mozart sonatas since the 1950s, including two complete cycles: one from 1978-81 for Eurodisc on a modern-day concert grand, the other from 1984-90 for Naïve using a 1790 Johann Schantz Viennese fortepiano. In February 2013 the 85-year-old pianist revisited K.... Continue Reading

Kolesnikov’s Subtle and Sensitive Tchaikovsky

by Jed Distler

In 1875 the St. Petersburg music magazine Nouvellist commissioned Tchaikovsky to contribute 12 piano pieces, one for each month of the year. Although the composer evidently tossed them off with little effort, the music’s melodic charm and emotional directness still hold appeal for today’s audiences... Continue Reading

Music for Scordatura Violins

by David Vernier

These works for “mistuned” violins provide a programmatically unique and musically very satisfying foray into repertoire that was very popular in the 16th to early 18th centuries. There’s nothing stylistically groundbreaking here–it’s all well within the framework of Baroque practice; however the sound of the... Continue Reading

Hamelin Bonds with Janácek and Schumann

by Jed Distler

Marc-André Hamelin’s effortless mastery of the piano literature’s most stamina-testing and technically daunting challenges tends to overshadow his sensitive musicianship and tasteful sophistication in more intimately scaled fare, such as the two Schumann cycles presented here. In Waldszenen, Hamelin’s lyrical gifts shine throughout the opening... Continue Reading

John Luther Adams: Become Ocean, Minimally

by David Hurwitz

John Luther Adams writes music that lacks any trace of human feeling. It is “process” music–cold, implacable, but often very beautiful in its way, as here. Become Ocean won a Pulitzer Prize, an award that debased itself significantly in recognizing John (not Luther) Adams’ vulgar,... Continue Reading

Howells’ Stabat Mater

by David Vernier

Its length–nearly 50 minutes–and size of performing forces–tenor soloist, choir, and orchestra–certainly qualify Herbert Howells’ Stabat Mater as a significant work. And indeed the seven-movement piece, which took more than five years to complete, remains one of his most substantial. However, most likely due to... Continue Reading

A New Cycle of Shebalin Orchestral Works

by David Hurwitz

This disc represents the start of a new cycle of orchestral music by Russian composer and Shostakovich contemporary Vissarion Shebalin. There hasn’t been much attention paid him since the old Olympia recordings of the symphonies and other orchestral pieces, although you never know what Melodiya... Continue Reading

Spohr At The Finish Line

by Jed Distler

Those who’ve followed Marco Polo’s Louis Spohr string quartet cycle from its inception will know what to expect from this final installment. Both the A major and B minor quartets are extremely well written for the medium, contain lovely tunes all around with lots of... Continue Reading

Benjamin Grosvenor’s “Dances”

by Jed Distler

Music influenced by dance forms is the theme of Benjamin Grosvenor’s second Decca solo release. The opener is a decidedly “old school” treatment of Bach’s Fourth Partita with no repeats observed, where beauty of tone and a wide palette of nuances take precedence over the... Continue Reading

Fujieda’s Patterns of Plants: Commune With Your Inner Fern

by David Hurwitz

If you enjoy the gentle, atmospheric, but expressive music of, say, Mompou, then you are going to love Japanese composer Mamoru Fujieda’s Patterns of Plants. These brief pieces, lasting between two and five minutes, are based on musical transcriptions of the electrical impulses produced by,... Continue Reading

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