Latest Music Reviews

Glass’ 11th Symphony A Rollicking Ride

by Robert Levine

GLass-11

Critics and fans alike like to say that Philip Glass composes music that is either riveting or dull. Whatever, count this new symphony among the great successes. It is both fascinating and rollicking fun. It’s in three movements of 10, 15, and 11 minutes. Remove... Continue Reading

Vadym Kholodenko’s Low-Voltage Scriabin

by Jed Distler

scriabinsonatas

Do your like your Scriabin polished to the nines, rounded at the edges? Do you prefer its violent outbursts pacified and its foaming mouth muzzled? I certainly don’t. The Fourth and Fifth sonatas’ yearning themes usually palpitate, but not when Vadym Kholodenko fussily pokes at... Continue Reading

Early Strauss

by Jed Distler

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The best way to stump your music-loving friends in a round of “Guess the Composer” is by playing just about any of Richard Strauss’ youthful chamber works. They often resemble Mendelssohn or Weber, yet the young Strauss’ compositional craft is wonderfully assured and fluent. The... Continue Reading

So-So Nutcracker From L.A.

by David Hurwitz

Nutcracker

Confession time. I don’t get Gustavo Dudamel. The only exciting thing about him is the PR that says he’s supposed to be exciting. I have yet to hear a performance that sustains his carefully crafted image as a young hot shot. This Nutcracker is no... Continue Reading

CD From Hell: Horrible Haydn = H+H Under Christophers

by David Hurwitz

Haydn87Christophers

Well, here’s a disc that ought never to have been made. Harry Christophers and Boston’s Handel + Haydn Society have been chugging along with a series that couples two Haydn symphonies (one “Paris” and one “Sturm und Drang”) with a Mozart string concerto. Sounds nice,... Continue Reading

Harding Leads An Impressive Mahler Fifth

by David Hurwitz

Mahler5Harding

Mahler’s Fifth is arguably the most difficult of all the symphonies to play convincingly, and it’s to Daniel Harding’s credit that he does it so well. Like his version of the Ninth, this is a performance that gets better as it goes. The opening funeral... Continue Reading

Harding’s Surprisingly Good Mahler Ninth

by David Hurwitz

Mahler9Harding

On evidence here, Daniel Harding has become a Mahler conductor to be reckoned with. This is a very pleasant surprise, especially in light of his ghastly Mahler Fourth of a few years ago. That was a mess largely because of his decision to play the... Continue Reading

Bach On A More Cretan Lyra Than Expected

by Styra Avins

BachLyra

What is it about Bach’s Cello Suites that makes them so eligible for transcription? Primarily because, on a mere four strings somehow attached to a wooden resonator, Bach has written fully-contained music, needing no other thing and no other instrument to reveal itself fully. That... Continue Reading

Best of Christmas Past: John Rutter–Music For Christmas

by David Vernier

Most of John Rutter’s fans are familiar with the story about the creation of the Christmas anthem What Sweeter Music, a piece that has become not only his most famous, but also a virtual standard with church, community, and school choirs around the world. It... Continue Reading

Best of Christmas Past: Christmas In The Dresden Frauenkirche

by David Vernier

christmasindresden

Carus continues to bring previously unrecorded–and often unpublished–music to renewed life in distinguished performances and authoritative printed scores. In this case, with the disc’s title and musical program the label capitalizes on the attention given to the event of the re-opening of the historic Dresden... Continue Reading

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