Latest Music Reviews

Major Discovery: Orff’s Surprising Gisei

by Jens F. Laurson

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Carl Orff is–just behind Johann Pachelbel, who dominated my unscientific Twitter poll on the topic–the quintessential one-hit composer. It’s Carmina-or-bust with him. He hits all the criteria: His one hit is very famous and the fame-disparity between that hit and his next-best-known work (Die Kluge?... Continue Reading

Alfred Brendel Live in Vienna

by Jed Distler

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It’s easy to fathom why Alfred Brendel is glad that Decca has released these previously unpublished live performances of the Schumann concerto and Brahms Handel Variations. In the concerto, there’s a fluidity of phrasing and a chamber-like give and take between Brendel, Simon Rattle, and... Continue Reading

The Reference: The Takács Quartet’s Beethoven Cycle

by Jens F. Laurson

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At the Freer Gallery, or at the Corcoran Gallery (when it was still a chamber music oasis in Washington, DC), or at the more humble Landon School Mondzac Performing Arts Center, the Takács Quartet made my life better with their performances of Bartók, Beethoven, Haydn,... Continue Reading

A Loving Tribute in Song to “Notorious RBG”

by David Hurwitz

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This is a difficult production to review, not just because Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become such a significant figure in modern American life, but because the range of her achievements–whether as a jurist or as a wife, mother, opera maven, attorney, professional... Continue Reading

Big Boxes: Dynamic’s Complete Paganini Edition

by Jed Distler

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The Genova-based Dynamic label has built up a large catalog of Niccolo Paganini’s music over the past three decades, culminating in a 40-CD complete edition that leaves no stone unturned. Since most of this material has been previously available, a critical overview might be useful... Continue Reading

CD from Hell: Kozhukhin Emotes All Over Ravel and Gershwin

by David Hurwitz

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No one need bother with these hot and heavy interpretations of piano concertos by Ravel and Gershwin. Denis Kozhukhin takes every opportunity to indulge in “expressive” rubato in his solo passages, whether the music requires it or not. The fact is, rubato without a firm... Continue Reading

The Celtic Side Of Beethoven

by Jens F. Laurson

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If the names and faces on the cover of this disc of Beethoven British folksong arrangements look vaguely familiar, it might be because the ingredients are much the same as those of the splendidly charming recordings of all (!) of Haydn’s such arrangements on Brilliant... Continue Reading

Wolf-Ferrari’s Piano Trios

by Jed Distler

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The two piano trios that Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) composed early in his career display inventiveness and communicative vibrancy comparable to what you find in his operas and symphonic works. The Op. 5 Trio reveals the 20-year-old composer as a confident craftsperson: note the quirky juxtapositions... Continue Reading

Mozart And The Sound Of Nepotism

by Jens F. Laurson

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Cole Porter knew. Birds do it, bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. The Dutch in old Amsterdam do it. Some Argentines, with means, do it. People say in Boston, even beans do it: Cynics may call it nepotism, but good fathers think ahead.... Continue Reading

St. Gallen’s Lovely, Lively Bach Continues

by Jens F. Laurson

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There’s a trajectory to worshiping Bach, namely that by the time you love Bach well above all other composers, you’ll love his cantatas best. All 200-odd of them. They contain everything that is sublime about Bach in the greatest possible way and variety. No Bach-devotee... Continue Reading

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