Latest Music Reviews

Andrew Tyson’s Headstrong Chopin

by Jed Distler


A brief written statement prefaces Andrew Tyson’s recording of Chopin’s Op. 28 Préludes that cites the tension between spontaneity and craft running through these pieces. Many pianists have been able to reconcile these characteristics, from free spirits like Alfred Cortot, Benno Moiseiwitsch, and Martha Argerich... Continue Reading

Pointless Prokofiev From Jansons

by David Hurwitz


Jansons’ first recording of Prokofiev’s Fifth, with the Leningrad Philharmonic for Chandos, was nothing special, and neither is this remake. New recordings of this symphony seem to be sprouting up like weeds, and have about as much appeal. Sure, the playing is fine, even handsome,... Continue Reading

More “Visionary” Busoni From Jeni Slotchiver

by Jed Distler


About a decade separates Jeni Slotchiver’s second “Busoni The Visionary” release from the present third volume. Her solid technique and innate empathy for the composer’s fascinating though not terribly lovable keyboard idiom remain ever intact. She shapes the Toccata forthrightly, with carefully scaled dynamics and... Continue Reading

Bloch’s Israel Symphony Migrates to Naxos

by David Hurwitz


Originally issued on ASV (indeed, still available there on iTunes), this desirable disc now reappears on Naxos, at least as physical product. Go figure. Anyway, I love the photo of the Shofar on the new cover. I got one just like it in Israel and... Continue Reading

Bartok & Kodaly Orchestral Works from Linn, Reissued

by David Hurwitz


Charles Mackerras is such a musical conductor that you can always count on his performances giving satisfaction, and these largely do. That said, when this disc was originally issued I noted that they still aren’t quite the best, and I see no reason to alter... Continue Reading

Raffi Besalyan’s Rachmaninov

by Jed Distler


At his best, Raffi Besalyan’s formidable, assured technique and rich, varied sonority serves Rachmaninov well. The authority and sweep that he brings to the C-sharp minor Prelude’s central climactic section is a case in point, along with the G minor Op. 23 Prelude’s rhythmic swagger... Continue Reading

Donizetti’s Unfinished Le Duc d’Albe Arrives Impressively

by Robert Levine


It is ironic that the most famous—indeed, only famous—moment from this opera, the tenor aria “Angelo casto e bel”, was not composed by Donizetti. In fact, Donizetti abandoned the opera in Paris early in 1840 for other, more definite projects, and it was left unfinished... Continue Reading

Moondog’s Canon of Canons

by Jed Distler


New Yorkers of a certain generation might remember Moondog (Louis T. Hardin), a strange-looking blind man dressed in Viking garb, standing on the sidewalk and collecting spare change. Back in 1971 I spotted Moondog at the corner of 53rd Street and Avenue of the Americas.... Continue Reading

CD From Hell: Awful Rachmaninov 3rd From Gergiev

by David Hurwitz


You can tell that a bad performance of Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony is coming within the first sixty seconds. There is an introduction, marked “Lento,” leading to the “Allegro moderato” main body of the movement. Either the conductor differentiates these two tempos, and sticks to them,... Continue Reading

Cultured and Caring Busoni Transcriptions from Holger Groschopp

by Jed Distler


In 2009 Capriccio brought out a four-CD compilation featuring pianist Holger Groschopp in a wide range of Ferruccio Busoni’s arrangements, transcriptions and paraphrases. Here is a follow-up release with further Bach/Busoni material. As Groschopp’s well-written and informative booklet notes explain, certain works are essentially note-for-note... Continue Reading

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