Latest Music Reviews

Big Boxes: Karajan’s Complete DG and Decca Recordings

by Jed Distler

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Universal Classics’ limited edition of Herbert von Karajan’s complete Deutsche Grammophon and Decca recordings encompasses the largest release ever devoted to a single classical artist, not to mention the largest boxed set in history to date. It adds up to 330 CDs, 23 DVDs, plus... Continue Reading

Olga Scheps’ Slogging Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto

by Victor Carr Jr

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You wouldn’t think it was possible to make the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto sound tediously dull, but Olga Scheps and Carlos Dominguez-Nieto have managed to do just that. The performance is ever-so-dutiful and safe. This is evident right from the introduction, where Dominguez-Nieto’s dispiritingly slow tempo... Continue Reading

Big Boxes: The Decca Sound Piano Edition

by Jed Distler

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Decca’s latest big box compilation focuses on the British label’s roster of pianists from the late 1930s to date. The recordings are housed in original jacket facsimiles and arranged by artist in alphabetical order. Ample “bonus” material fleshes out many volumes, yielding generous playing times.... Continue Reading

Roth’s Surprisingly Good Mahler Fifth

by David Hurwitz

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There are some very fine moments in this Mahler Fifth, surprisingly because conductor François-Xavier Roth is one of those guys who has been making “historically informed” recordings of late romantic and early twentieth-century music, with wildly varying success. Granted, and Adagietto could use more warmth... Continue Reading

Provocatively Rewarding Prokofiev from Olli Mustonen

by Jed Distler

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As with his earlier release containing Prokofiev’s First, Third and Fourth Concertos, Olli Mustonen approaches the composer’s Second and Fifth with fresh eyes, ears and fingers, abetted by Hannu Lintu’s fastidious podium support. From the Second Concerto’s outset, you’ll notice Mustonen’s healthy yet intelligently proportion... Continue Reading

Major Discoveries: Rarities by Martinu and Novák

by David Hurwitz

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Martinu’s A Bouquet of Flowers ought to be as popular a concert work as Carmina Burana. A setting of Czech folk poetry for mixed and children’s choirs, soloists, and an orchestra including two pianos and harmonium, it was composed for the Czech Radio in 1937,... Continue Reading

Major Discoveries: Martinu’s Truly “Epic of Gilgamesh”

by David Hurwitz

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This terrific live performance offers the premiere recording of Martinu’s late masterpiece, The Epic of Gilgamesh, in its original English version. In you haven’t heard the work before in any of its prior Czech language versions, and even if you have, this is now the... Continue Reading

Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time Baritone Gabriele Nani

by Robert Levine

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What do you want from a CD of baritone arias called “My mind is a volcano”? (Or “There is a volcano in my mind”–it may be idiomatic.) Is this a good thing, a bad thing, or a warning? At best, one would hope for a... Continue Reading

Vasily Petrenko’s Beguiling Spring Rites

by Victor Carr Jr

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Rachmaninov’s mini-cantata Spring tells of a husband intent on murdering his unfaithful wife, who then abandons his plans upon the arrival of spring. The melodically and harmonically rich music (written soon after the composer’s Second Piano Concerto) is in stark contrast to Debussy’s Printemps, which... Continue Reading

Pretty Yende, Still A Natural, Still Not “There”

by Robert Levine

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I feel about this much as I did about Pretty Yende’s first CD, “A Journey”. Her “journey” from a teensy town in South Africa to the stages of the world’s greatest opera houses has already been well documented, and now she is no longer to... Continue Reading

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