Latest Music Reviews

Not Your Grandparents’ Messiah

by David Vernier

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Gottfried August Homilius, a later contemporary of J.S. Bach, wrote some very fine choral works, including passions, cantatas, and motets, and he was justly praised in his lifetime and immediately after, cited by one observer as “our greatest church composer”. Yes, he really did know... Continue Reading

Eri Mantani’s Scarlatti Recital

by Jed Distler

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Eri Mantani has all of the ingredients for good Scarlatti pianism at her beck and call: technical finesse, a beautiful sound, and stylish sensitivity. If only her interpretations were more consistent. She can be generic and bland, shaping the music with generalized articulation and predictable... Continue Reading

Under the Radar: The Ashkenazy/Solti Beethoven Concerto Cycle Reconsidered

by Jed Distler

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With Vladimir Ashkenazy’s July 2017 80th birthday festivities on the classical music community’s radar, one cannot help but reflect upon his immense body of recorded work. Certain items long have held forth as references: the Rachmaninov Preludes, the Chopin Etudes, the Liszt Mephisto Waltz, and... Continue Reading

Rachel Barton Pine Probes Paganini

by Jed Distler

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The title of this double album, Bel Canto Paganini, is the key to Rachel Barton Pine’s unaccompanied violin artistry. Of course one cannot play unaccompanied Paganini without all-encompassing virtuoso equipment, and Pine’s technique is beyond cavil; just sample her deft and supple alternating pizzicato and... Continue Reading

Herreweghe’s Brahms 4th Flops

by David Hurwitz

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Philippe Herreweghe really ought not to be conducting romantic orchestral music. He has no feeling for it at all. In the baroque works on which his reputation rests, he can achieve stunning results. I wouldn’t trade in his version of, say, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion... Continue Reading

A Poor Case For Steffani’s Baccanali

by Robert Levine

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Having been enchanted with Cecilia Bartoli’s CD of arias by the 17th century composer Agostino Steffani and knocked out by his opera, Niobe, I was happy to receive this set in the mail despite the fact that it is a pastoral in one act. Nymphs... Continue Reading

Javier Perianes’ Surefire Schubert Coupling

by Jed Distler

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Question: What do pianists Victor Rosenbaum, Anna Malikova, Rudolf Buchbinder, Philippe Cassard, Jenö Jandó, Mikhail Kazakevich, Radu Lupu, Klára Würtz, and now Javier Perianes have in common? Answer: They’ve all paired Schubert’s B-flat major D. 960 and A major D. 664 sonatas on disc. It’s... Continue Reading

Hans Gál’s Powerful Second Symphony

by David Hurwitz

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Schubert and Gál are billed as “kindred spirits” in this release pairing the “Great” C Major Symphony with Gál’s Symphony No. 2, completed in 1943. I don’t hear it, frankly, and the Schubert is a performance of no special distinction, vaguely influenced by period practice,... Continue Reading

An “Authentic” Daphnis?

by David Hurwitz

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This is a light, lively performance of Daphnis et Chloé based on a completely false premise. It could not be less atmospheric. The chorus sounds small, young, bright, and much too forwardly balanced, making nonsense out of its theoretically spooky interlude or the Apparition of... Continue Reading

Double Your Pleasure: The Liszt Sonata Arranged For Two Pianos

by Jed Distler

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Arranging Liszt’s iconic and influential Piano Sonata in B minor for two pianos seems like a ridiculous idea, except for the fact that Liszt himself actually wanted to do so but never got around to the task. It was left to Liszt’s friend Camille Saint-Saëns... Continue Reading

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