Latest Music Reviews

Beautifully Sung and Acted Traviata Somehow Misses the Pathos

by Robert Levine

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This updating of Verdi’s La traviata by director Tom Cairns and designer Hildegard Bechtler adds little to the opera, but neither does it detract. The costumes are a combination of present day and Belle Epoque; the set, in three sections, features a curved quilted wall... Continue Reading

Rare and Familiar Sibelius, Great Performances from Segerstam

by David Hurwitz

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The complete incidental music to Pelléas et Mélisande isn’t so different from the familiar suite–there’s a song for Mélisande, but otherwise it’s pretty much the same, with no annoying fragments, fillers, and bits of pantomime or stage business. Segerstam’s performance here is simply gorgeous. Granted,... Continue Reading

Berglund’s Small-Scaled but Stirring Brahms Symphonies

by Victor Carr Jr

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Like Paavo Berglund’s Sibelius symphony recordings, also with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, these Brahms performances inject a certain novelty that will be appreciated especially by the listener who has wearied of them due to excessive repetition. While these are not radically desiccated renditions in... Continue Reading

The “New” Goldberg Variations?

by Jed Distler

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Pianist Joe Chindamo has created a performing version of Bach’s Goldberg Variations in which he plays the original keyboard score as written, and superimposes a newly composed violin counterline. It’s an interesting idea in theory, yet in practice it doesn’t always work. The slow and... Continue Reading

Mediocre Debut Recital from Yinjia Gong

by Robert Levine

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It’s not as if Chinese-born, Swedish-trained tenor Yinjia Gong can’t sing; it’s just that judging from this recital, a good manager or agent should have kept him from recording a debut disc with such an unfinished technique and persona. The exposure he’s given here, in... Continue Reading

Sor’s Complete Guitar Studies

by Jed Distler

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Given Fernando Sor’s importance in the history of guitar performance and guitar repertoire, it makes sense to bring all of the composer’s studies for that instrument together on disc. Fortunately these pieces are both technically beneficial and musically rewarding, and Milan-born guitarist Enea Leone’s suave... Continue Reading

Petrenko Does Suk, But That’s A Good Thing

by David Hurwitz

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Interest in conductor Kirill Petrenko has naturally increased since the announcement that he would be taking over from Simon Rattle as music director of the Berlin Philharmonic, so it was smart of CPO to box up its series of tone poems by Joseph Suk, led... Continue Reading

Vivacious Vivaldi

by Jed Distler

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Among the catalog’s many scintillating period-instrument recordings of Vivaldi concertos, this release gets the “shock and awe” award. At first you’ll be shocked (well, at least stimulated) by the energetic tempos, aggressively crisp execution, and often brash timbral blends served up by Diego Fasolis’ tightly... Continue Reading

Swished-Around Bach

by Jed Distler

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To commemorate the Moog Synthesizer’s 50th anniversary, composer and keyboard virtuoso Craig Leon has recast some of J.S. Bach’s most familiar works in new arrangements for orchestra and the recently created Moog modular 55 synthesizer, an instrument that duplicates the sonorities of the classic 1973... Continue Reading

Rossini’s Swan Song in Glorious Voice from Florez

by Robert Levine

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It is very hard lately to get worked up about 14th century Swiss oppression by the Austrians. I recently realized that it wasn’t merely the fact that Rossini’s last opera, Guillaume Tell, was incredibly long, had too much dancing, and too many choral numbers, but... Continue Reading

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