Latest Music Reviews

Stunning Brahms from Jonathan Plowright

by Jed Distler

The second volume in what one hopes will be a complete Brahms piano music cycle from Jonathan Plowright charges from the starting gate with engines ablaze and fingers primed for action. In other words, behold the most incisive, dramatic, and multi-dimensional account of the composer’s... Continue Reading

Bartoli Goes To Russia–In Triumph

by Robert Levine

Love her or not, Cecilia Bartoli has done it again. You can argue with her breathy production, her “shotgun” approach to fast coloratura, and other so-called tics, but she undoubtedly is the most musically curious mezzo of our (and probably any other) generation. Having previously... Continue Reading

American Chamber Music

by David Vernier

Aaron Copland’s delightful and oft-recorded violin sonata opens this recording, whose program is one of the more intelligent, thoughtfully designed, and best played you’ll ever hear, in repertoire that may not rock the Billboard charts but that speaks importantly to listeners who enjoy tuning into... Continue Reading

Somero’s Soggy Schubert

by Jed Distler

The 51-year-old Finnish composer, arranger, and pianist Jouni Somero has racked up a discography for Fc Records that is as impressively wide-ranging as it is uneven in quality. Writing about his disc featuring Erkki Salmenhaara’s piano music, I cited Somero’s solid yet plain-spoken pianism, although... Continue Reading

Biber’s Fidicinium Sacro-Profanum Reinterpreted

by John Greene

Biber’s 12 string sonatas titled Fidicinium Sacro-Profanum (Sacred and Profane fiddle music) are relatively unassuming works designed to be performed during church services. They are based primarily on the Italian church sonata form and, like other similar string settings of the period, are moderately complex... Continue Reading

Jansons’ Verdi Requiem–A Simple Prayer

by Robert Levine

This new recording of Verdi’s Requiem joins about 60 others in the catalog. There’s always a push-pull in this work–is it an opera in disguise, a work of devotion, or some odd combination? Well, Mariss Jansons, as fine a thinker as a conductor, has opted... Continue Reading

Classy Dukas from Tingaud and RTÉ

by David Hurwitz

Dukas’ three major orchestral works make a logical and satisfying single program, and they are very well performed and recorded on this fine new disc from Naxos. There’s no guarantee, of course, that a French conductor will do especially well in French music, and no... Continue Reading

Pacifica Quartet’s Complete Shostakovich (and Friends)

by David Hurwitz

If you’ve been following this series, you already know that it’s one of the great Shostakovich quartet cycles, outstanding even in a very crowded field. To the excellent versions of the 15 Shostakovich Quartets, the Pacifica adds four quartets by Shostakovich’s contemporaries. Individual releases already... Continue Reading

Lovely Emma Bell in Non-HIP Handel

by Robert Levine

Emma Bell has an astonishingly beautiful, full lyric voice, inherently capable of feats of coloratura as well. This is a re-release from Linn of a CD made and released in 2005; I missed it then but am glad to hear it now. At first she... Continue Reading

Muti’s Prokofiev R&J: The Sequel Is Never As Good

by David Hurwitz

Riccardo Muti made an absolutely stunning recording of the first two suites (more or less) from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet with the Philadelphia Orchestra for EMI. That was, and remains, a reference recording. Here we have a hybrid 48 minutes of music assembled from the... Continue Reading

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