Latest Music Reviews

The Deluxe Magic Flute Standard

by Jens F. Laurson

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Otto Klemperer’s recording of the Magic Flute has long been considered the recording. When it came out, in 1965, it impressed itself on so many listeners as the standard Zauberflöte–an indelible emotional footprint that still informs our hearing. It seems only right that Warner has... Continue Reading

Tito Unbalanced

by Robert Levine

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This is the fifth in Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s and Rolando Villazon’s undertakings of seven Mozart operas to be laid down for DG. The Don G was terrific, the Cosi and Abduction filled with fine moments, and the Nozze mediocre. Nézet-Séguin’s approach has been consistent–a wise mixture... Continue Reading

Under the Radar: Gounod’s Piano Music

by Jed Distler

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Everyone knows about Charles Gounod’s operas and choral works, but who knew that he also wrote solo piano music? I certainly didn’t, until this release came to my attention. It offers a judiciously contrasted representation of the composer’s keyboard output, starting with two beautiful charmers:... Continue Reading

Angela Hewitt in Warsaw, 1980

by Jed Distler

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One does not readily associate Angela Hewitt with Chopin’s music, aside from her Hyperion release containing the complete Nocturnes and Impromptus. However, she played a great deal of Chopin as a teenager, and in fact participated in the 1980 Warsaw International Chopin Competition, where the... Continue Reading

Jacques Charpentier’s Etudes Karnatiques

by Jed Distler

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The late Jacques Charpentier (1933-2017) was a disciple of Olivier Messiaen who shared his mentor’s interest in how the spiritual and musical substance of Indian classical music can inform a creative process rooted in Western traditions. Among his more than 150 works, the Etudes Karnatiques... Continue Reading

Appreciating Einojuhani Rautavaara–Cello & Piano

by Jens F. Laurson

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Einojuhani Rautavaara is a most wonderful composer of the 20th (and 21st) century; a giant of beauty who left a catalogue of great music when he died in the summer of 2016. I first noticed him when the then barely 20-year-old Finnish conductor/violinist Mikko Franck... Continue Reading

In Pursuit of the Truth: Dénes Zsigmondy’s Solo Bach

by Jed Distler

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Violinist Dénes Zsigmondy (1922-2014) may not be a familiar name outside of professional circles, yet he enjoyed a long career as both performer and pedagogue (perhaps Isabelle Faust is his best known pupil). He had close associations with composers including Kodály, Sessions, Dallapiccola, and Kurtag,... Continue Reading

Thomas’ Colorful And Engaging Tchaikovsky Pathétique

by Victor Carr Jr

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Like his 1971 recording of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1, Michael Tilson Thomas’ probingly conducted and beautifully played Tchaikovsky Pathétique is intriguing for its “balletic” treatment of the score. This is not to suggest a light and facile performance; on the contrary, there’s plenty of intensity... Continue Reading

Not Great American Symphonic Music, Unfortunately

by David Hurwitz

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Actually, there is one unambiguously great work here: Ruggles’ Sun-Treader, but it receives the least persuasive performance. David Alan Miller is, of course, a highly capable conductor, but the orchestra–despite individually fine first-desk players–is really second rate as an ensemble. Mushy timpani, tentative brass, and... Continue Reading

Major Discoveries: Krommer’s Distinctive Early Symphonies

by David Hurwitz

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Franz Krommer evidently took writing symphonies seriously, waiting until he was about forty before his First appeared at the end of the 1790s. That makes his nine works in the form (the Eighth is lost) almost exactly contemporary with Beethoven’s, and while you won’t find... Continue Reading

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