Latest Music Reviews

Schleppy Schumann, Beautiful Brahms, Soggy Sonics

by Jed Distler

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Given the unusually robust and lifelike sonic values of previous Blue Griffin piano CDs, the present disc’s murky, hollow-bodied engineering comes as a shock. It’s as if we’re listening to an early tape-based, mid-1940s German Radio broadcast rather than a 2015 digital recording. The sonics... Continue Reading

Suitably Glorious Temple de la Gloire

by Robert Levine

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What with its frills and dances, most French Baroque opera almost begs to keep its distance from its listeners, but we simply have to get over it. It wasn’t composed for the public and has to be heard that way; the mostly moronic or allegorical... Continue Reading

Steven Osborne’s Intelligent, Tasteful Schubert

by Jed Distler

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A seemingly fresh approach to a familiar piece often results from a pianist paying unusual attention to details in a score that others take for granted. This often applies to Steven Osborne’s Schubert performances here. In the D. 935 No.1 Impromptu, Osborne’s astute observance of... Continue Reading

An Unnecessary Bruckner Fifth From MSR

by David Hurwitz

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Conductor Lance Friedel already gave us a fine Nielsen program for MSR Classics, and there’s no question he “gets” Bruckner’s Fifth. This in itself is no mean achievement, given the fact that this probably is the composer’s most idiosyncratic work. Friedel remains an artist to... Continue Reading

Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna A Seconda-Rate Opera

by Robert Levine

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The polymath Rufus Wainwright is impossible to dismiss: He writes and sings songs à la Bob Dylan and sings à la Judy Garland, all in his own very musical manner. I recently came across him singing three songs from Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été on YouTube... Continue Reading

Mesmerizing Reich From Third Coast Percussion

by David Hurwitz

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Steve Reich’s music for (mostly) mallet percussion will either hold you enthralled or knock you unconscious, but there’s no in-between. One thing is certain: the musical idiom perfectly suits the instrumentation. Even Music for Pieces of Wood, which can sound like the noise your refrigerator... Continue Reading

Concertante Works by Sedaka, Emerson, Ellington, and Gershwin–Really!

by David Hurwitz

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What a delightful project this turns out to be! The main work here is the Keith Emerson (of Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame) Piano Concerto, an energetic and fun piece that runs the gamut from a twelve-tone opening to a primal, toccata conclusion very much... Continue Reading

Litton Delivers Highly Polished Copland

by David Hurwitz

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This is “meat and potatoes” repertoire for a conductor like Andrew Litton, and he doesn’t disappoint. He has the Colorado Symphony playing at the top of its form. The Outdoor Overture has both swagger and brilliance, and it never sounds as though it was composed... Continue Reading

Luminous L’Estro Armonico By Brecon Baroque

by David Vernier

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Rachel Podger knows how to play Vivaldi, and she has proven it on previous acclaimed recordings (reviewed here) of the Op. 4 concertos (“La stravaganza”) and Op. 9 “La Cetra”. Going back over my comments for those performances–“stunning, fiercely energetic, ardently expressive, and technically assured”;... Continue Reading

Igor Levit’s “Triple Threat” Variation Tour-de-Force

by Jed Distler

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Igor Levit has created quite a stir in the piano world by recording serious, heavy-hitting repertoire for his first two Sony releases. He made a stunning debut with Beethoven’s last five sonatas, and followed up with excellent (albeit not extraordinary) readings of Bach’s Six Partitas.... Continue Reading

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