Latest Music Reviews

Three Magnificats by JS, JC, & CPE Bach

by Robert Levine


Yes, three settings of the Magnificat by three Bachs. Not that there’s anything wrong with Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782), but he’s on a playing field here that is decidedly uneven: he cannot rival either his father or older brother CPE in creativity. His is a... Continue Reading

Performance: “A” Programming: “C”

by David Vernier


There was a recurring sketch on the Sesame Street television program called “One of these things is not like the others”; you were shown four things and had to choose which one “didn’t belong”. This recording of choral music by the William Jewell College Concert... Continue Reading

CD From Hell: Immerseel’s Recipe for a Beethoven Disaster

by David Hurwitz


HOW TO MAKE BEETHOVEN IN FIVE EASY STEPS MAIN INGREDIENTS 1. Choose your pitch, in this case A=440. 2. Select instruments of the period, and specific place. 3. Limit the ensemble to a “typical” minimum size. 4. Obey all metronome markings strictly. 5. Eliminate string... Continue Reading

Bargain Byrd Box From New College

by David Vernier


These very fine performances were originally issued on three separate CDs during the 1980s and ’90s; according to CRD, this set, which simply collects all three original discs in one “bargain” box, first appeared in 2002. And for the convenience of those who missed it... Continue Reading

Historic Karajan–Primordial Sound

by Victor Carr Jr


Herbert von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic evidently (according to Richard Osborne in the liner notes) made a strong impression on the April 6, 1962 Royal Festival Hall audience (who applauded profusely at the concert’s conclusion), hence this recording’s “historic” appellation. Modern listeners will have... Continue Reading

Märkl Manages Saint-Saëns Symphonic Poems

by David Hurwitz


There is no truly great disc of the four Saint-Saëns symphonic poems. Perhaps the best of them is the old Pierre Dervaux on EMI, but something about the music has lead to it being treated very much as a sort of afterthought. Granted, there are... Continue Reading

Järvi Does Hindemith Proud

by David Hurwitz


Yes, there are many fine versions of these works, and these performances stand among them. Hindemith doesn’t offer the interpreter many opportunities to give his music a distinctive profile: the key is keeping tempos lively and the playing up to snuff. Järvi does just that.... Continue Reading

Alsop’s Loving Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet

by David Hurwitz


Marin Alsop’s Prokofiev recordings for Naxos have had their ups and downs. This complete Romeo and Juliet ballet is definitely an “up.” It’s not the most exciting version. The fight music in the first act, Tybalt’s death, and the noisier moments generally could be more... Continue Reading

Paganini At The Piano

by Jed Distler


Paganini’s solo violin Caprices Op. 1 have provided the basis for some of the piano repertoire’s iconic virtuoso vehicles, such as Brahms’ Op. 35 Variations and Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody, to name just two. For this release, however, pianist Goran Filipec uncovers some substantial lesser-known Paganini-inspired works.... Continue Reading

Segerstam’s Bewildering Brahms

by Victor Carr Jr


Even if someone thought pairing Brahms’ echt-romantic Symphony No. 2 with Leif Segerstam’s quasi-modernist Symphony No. 289 would make a fetching CD, it’s hard to believe they actually listened to the Brahms performance, which is dispiritingly slow and depressingly long. Yes, Giulini’s Los Angeles recording... Continue Reading

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