Latest Music Reviews

Nowell! From New College

by David Vernier

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Here is as fine a survey of Advent and Christmas choral music as you’ll find these days, presented by one of the best and most reliable advocates for this repertoire. In my 40-plus years of reviewing recordings by British choirs, I have consistenly cited the... Continue Reading

Good, Not Great Tchaikovsky From Bychkov

by David Hurwitz

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Everything today has a title, usually a “journey,” “project,” or “voyage.” It’s stupid, pointless, and to me, aggravating. Why not call it “The Tchaikovsky Ordeal,” or “Fiesta,” or “Extravaganza,” or “Operation?” I don’t get it. What we have, simply, is Tchaikovsky’s Sixth coupled to Romeo... Continue Reading

Reger Ravishingly Reduced

by Jed Distler

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Max Reger’s three-movement Violin Concerto has fared quite well on CD, with at least two reference-worthy versions (Wallin/Schirmer on CPO; Scherzer/Blomstedt on Berlin Classics) that do justice to the composer’s massive orchestral forces and technically daunting solo part. Here, however, is a fascinating alternative: a... Continue Reading

Simple Grétry Charm From Opera Lafayette

by Robert Levine

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Every so often it’s nice to take a break from operas with deep meanings and just feel like a bit of French royalty at Versailles in 1784, where this sweet, fluffy operetta was first performed. L’épreuve villageoise (The Village Trial) has simple country folk in... Continue Reading

Thrilling Eccentricity in Currentzis’ Don Giovanni

by Robert Levine

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Well, we’re safe in the knowledge that Maestro Currentzis has now run out of Mozart-Da Ponte operas. His note-by-note, string-by-string examination of each score has been a wonderful exercise in obsessive-compulsive disorder, an experiment undertaken in Siberia, previously noted for exile and punishment. This handsomely... Continue Reading

Vincent Larderet’s Brahms and Berg

by Jed Distler

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In his booklet notes, pianist Vincent Larderet discusses working on Brahms’ Piano Sonata No. 3 with his teacher Bruno-Leonardo Gelber, who aptly likened the work to a “veiled symphony”. Indeed, the music’s structural ambitions and frequently thick textures benefit most from performances that convey symphonic... Continue Reading

Major Discoveries: Lajtha’s Second Symphony

by David Hurwitz

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Now reissued on Naxos, Lajtha’s Second Symphony couldn’t be more different from the ebullient First. Its outer movements are anguished, the first a funeral march (sound clip), the finale an urgent and turbulent whirlwind. In the middle we find a fantastical scherzo, all of it... Continue Reading

Stile Antico’s Jubilant Renaissance Christmas

by David Vernier

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In the first couple of decades after the advent of the CD, new and reissued Christmas releases were as plentiful as the stars in a clear winter sky. It seemed that every label, along with every choir, large and small, professional and amateur, was engaged... Continue Reading

Turkey From the Ninth Circle of Hell: Barto Batters Brahms

by Jed Distler

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It would take hundreds of thousands of words to categorically describe every scrap of interpretive graffiti, every vulgar expressive gesture, and every affront to the letter and spirit of the composer’s score that Tzimon Barto commits in his recordings of Brahms’ two piano concertos. Christoph... Continue Reading

Turkeys!: Marriner’s Roman Decline and Fall

by David Hurwitz

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This utterly pointless, unspeakably vile recording of Respighi’s Roman Trilogy isn’t quite as stupid as it looks. Marriner released a lot of Respighi for EMI and Philips, and much of it was excellent. But there’s a big difference between cute, neoclassical charmers for chamber orchestra... Continue Reading

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