Latest Music Reviews

Akeo Watanabe’s Sibelius Cycle On Denon

by Jens F. Laurson


Amid the Japanese embrace of Western classical music, certain composers seem to resonate particularly well with Japanese conductors and audiences: notably Beethoven, Bruckner, and Sibelius. This might be gleaned from the fact that Takashi Asahina alone recorded six Bruckner and seven Beethoven cycles while the... Continue Reading

A Slow Day On The Mount Of Olives

by Robert Levine


Beethoven’s 1803 oratorio, Christus am Ölberge, never has been an audience favorite. It consists of a slow delivery of the story of Christ’s arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, with commentary by the Man himself sounding like a long-suffering co-prisoner of Florestan’s; a sweet Seraph... Continue Reading

Big Boxes: The Magnificent New Music String Quartet

by Jed Distler


In its eight years of existence from 1948 to 1956, the New Music String Quartet established itself as one of the finest American chamber ensembles of the post-war era, whose long-out-of-print recordings have been highly sought-out collector’s items, commanding steep prices from second-hand record dealers.... Continue Reading

Locke For Lovers

by David Vernier


Part of this disc’s title is “For Lovers of Consort Music”, which is taken from the composer Matthew Locke’s preface to a set of works for this very special and once-popular configuration of instruments. It’s a fitting title: truly lovers of viols and the music—primarily... Continue Reading

Pleasant, Unadventurous Kabalevsky Symphonies

by David Hurwitz


Dimitri Kabalevsky was a composer of very limited range. Hearing his orchestral music reminds me of looking at that old, pre-marked staff paper for typical modern orchestra, with lines already included for piccolo, harp, and percussion (bass drum and cymbals on one line, snare drum... Continue Reading

Big Boxes: A Lotta Great Handel Cantatas

by David Hurwitz


There’s nothing more heartbreaking in surveying the current state of the classical music industry than the knowledge that, amidst the constant flow of useless dreck hitting the market daily, there are wonderful sets such as this one that will never receive the acclaim (and financial... Continue Reading

CD From Hell: Vänskä’s Torpid Minnesota Mahler First

by David Hurwitz


Webster’s defines “torpid” as, “(a) sluggish in functioning or acting, or (b) having lost motion or the power of exertion or feeling.” This describes Vänskä’s Mahler First perfectly. At no point does he betray the slightest interest in the expressive point of the music. Rather,... Continue Reading

Pärt’s Magnificat & Stabat Mater

by David Vernier


There are plenty of first-rate recordings of these works available, particularly the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, but who’s going to complain about a new one that delivers a slightly different perspective–that is, one created by a minimal vocal ensemble (eight voices), well-tailored to Pärt’s famously... Continue Reading

Jennifer Higdon’s Lovely New Harp Concerto

by David Hurwitz


Yolanda Kondonassis plays a mean harp, and Jennifer Higdon has written a lovely concerto to exploit her abilities. Lasting about 20 minutes, its four shapely movements have titles that aptly characterize the music without asking listeners to fit a square conceptual peg into a round... Continue Reading

Markevitch’s Matchless Rimsky-Korsakov on Eloquence

by David Hurwitz


Nobody played this music better than Igor Markevitch. Recorded back in 1962, this Scheherazade fought for recognition among those by Reiner, Monteux, Beecham, and other, more famous names, but it yields to none of them in its color, excitement, clarity, and most importantly of all,... Continue Reading

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