Latest Music Reviews

The Schwarzenberg Trio’s Classical Head and Contemporary Heart

by Jed Distler


Although the pandemic upended the Schwarzenberg Trio’s plans to tour with this provocatively contrasted program, they did manage to record it. In the Beethoven Op. 1 No. 1 Trio, the ensemble favors dry-eyed clarity and absolute precision, with textures that emphasize leanness and transparency. Indeed,... Continue Reading

Andrew von Oeyen’s “Pandemic Narrative”

by Jed Distler


Andrew von Oeyen looks upon this Bach and Beethoven program as a musical narrative of his pandemic experience. Had there been no concert cancellations or lockdowns, would Oeyen have played these works differently? Would his finger work throughout Bach’s Overture in the French Style have... Continue Reading

Braunfels’ Delightful Lighter Side

by David Hurwitz


Forget about the creepy cover art. It must be a sign of persistent sexism in the arts industry that photos of tortured women adorn CD covers willy-nilly, often for the most pointless of reasons. The music on this disc is overwhelmingly light, charming, even comical,... Continue Reading

Quartet For Two

by David Vernier


These things aren’t always a bad idea, or a pointless exercise, or even a not-so-pointless if merely functional effort to supply certain solo-repertoire-hungry instrumentalists (trumpet, guitar, mandolin, accordion–and even piano four-hands) with something new and respectable to play. Transcribing (as opposed to arranging) works for... Continue Reading

Swan Hennessy’s Obscure Yet Worthy Piano Music

by Jed Distler


Swan Hennessy (1866-1929) was born near Chicago, studied in Stuttgart as a teenager, and eventually made his way to Paris in 1903, where he lived for the rest of his life. His idiomatic and well-crafted piano music is hard to pigeonhole, although pianist Moritz Ernst’s... Continue Reading

Dausgaard’s Aptly Vicious Mandarin, Well Coupled

by David Hurwitz


Complete recordings of Bartók’s alternately spooky and violent ballet The Miraculous Mandarin have become almost as common as those of its proximate inspiration, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. It’s no longer unusual to hear even “second tier” orchestras play the work splendidly, and aside from a... Continue Reading

Dinara Klinton’s Unpressured And Musicianly Prokofiev Sonata Cycle

by Jed Distler


For years Dinara Klinton was a denizen of the international competition circuit, frequently figuring among the top prize winners. Her solid technique and genuine artistry serve Prokofiev’s cycle of piano sonatas well, largely because she treats these works as music, rather than gymnastics. Take the... Continue Reading

Véronique Bonnecaze’s Chopin Etudes

by Jed Distler


Paraty has resuscitated Véronique Bonnecaze’s recording of the Chopin Etudes that originally appeared in 2000 on the long-defunct Arcobaleno label. The pianist’s generally moderate tempos give room for her ample sonority and forceful melodic projection to register. The E minor Op. 25 No. 5’s arching... Continue Reading

Erich Kleiber’s Complete Polydor 78s: Mostly Good, Sometimes Awful

by David Hurwitz


This three-disc set, very carefully remastered by Mark Obert-Thorn, contains all of Erich Kleiber’s recordings for Polydor, including alternate takes of Smetana’s The Moldau (Vltava) and half of the scherzo of Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony. The performances range from excellent to mediocre to awful (sound... Continue Reading

Goldberg Variations Variations (Ensemble Tactus Edition)

by Jens F. Laurson


Here’s the French ensemble Tactus—which employs a fancy font for its corporate image that for the longest time had me read and think “Ensemble Cactus”. That’s a pity because I had a pun in my pocket about their offering the Goldberg Variations in an unusual,... Continue Reading

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