Latest Music Reviews

Eldbjørg Hemsing’s Debut Release Attractive But Underwhelming

by James Imam


Naturally, artists making initial ventures into the busy marketplace of audio releases want to stand out from the crowd, and there are two options open to them: offer fresh perspectives on well-known works, or shed light on undiscovered repertoire. In her debut release, Norwegian violinist... Continue Reading

Reference Recording: The Panocha’s Essential Dvorák String Quartets

by David Hurwitz


The Panocha Quartet’s complete Dvorák cycle remains the finest yet produced, and a testament to the great Czech tradition of quartet playing. This three-disc set drawn from the larger box, billed as “the essential string quartets,” does exactly what it says it does, and will... Continue Reading

Under the Radar: Hans Henkemans’ Philips Debussy Recordings

by Jed Distler


It is safe to say that the Dutch pianist Hans Henkemans (1913-1995), who also composed throughout his life, was not exactly a household name, certainly not in the United States. Yet he had a fascinating career. Along with his musical training, Henkemans also studied to... Continue Reading

Shi-An Costello Does It Differently

by Jed Distler


Glenn Gould’s infamous remark to the effect that the only excuse for recording a piece is to do it differently appears to be Shi-An Costello’s credo, his mantra, and his modus operandi. Hell, let’s be honest, it’s also his gimmick. Costello doesn’t just mix and... Continue Reading

Universal Power: Jonathan Harvey’s Sacred Works

by James Imam


The output of late British composer Jonathan Harvey is uncommonly broad. Take the famous Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco, for example, which was realized at IRCAM in 1980 and shows the composer at the forefront of electro-acoustic experimentation in Europe. Then consider that a series of... Continue Reading

Sterile Pinafore from Scottish Opera

by David Hurwitz


This sterile, bloodless performance, recorded in concert, is difficult to comprehend. Richard Egarr conducts a mincing, precious, charmless account of the score featuring a consistently light, “period style” sort of dry articulation and a dynamic range hovering around mezzo. Just mezzo. Add to that the... Continue Reading

Time Travel With Arvo Pärt

by Jens F. Laurson


This first complete recording of all of Arvo Pärt’s symphonies amounts to aesthetic time travel. From his avant-garde beginnings to his deliciously enchanting tintinnabuli-style minimalism, they cover the major stages of the Estonian composer’s work. It’s great to have the symphonies of one of the... Continue Reading

Beyond Bach & Vivaldi

by David Vernier


In the old days when people used to go to a record store, buy a recording, then take it home and have a couple of friends over to listen, sometimes they might play a little game: try to identify the composer/artist/music. This disc of baroque... Continue Reading

Norman Krieger’s Brahmsian Reserve

by Jed Distler


The arresting intensity and individual profile distinguishing Norman Krieger’s 2007 Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 recording with JoAnn Falletta conducting the Virginia Symphony Orchestra doesn’t spill over into this more recent account of the Second concerto. To be sure, Krieger’s solid technique and well-modulated sonority... Continue Reading

Leif Ove Andsnes Explores Sibelius

by Jed Distler


Much of the publicity surrounding Leif Ove Andsnes’ Sony Classical recital of piano works by Sibelius implies that this music was essentially unknown before Andsnes took up the cause. Not true, of course, but the music tends to be neglected, mostly due to the fact... Continue Reading

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