Latest Music Reviews

Dvořák’s Adventurous Fourth Quartet Gets Solo Billing

by David Hurwitz

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It’s about time that Dvořák’s fascinating and gripping Fourth Quartet got some individual attention apart from big boxes of the chamber works. A single movement more than 30 minutes long, in three extended sections, the music reveals the influence of Wagner and the New German... Continue Reading

Hyphenated And Un-Hyphenated Bach From Francesco Piemontesi

by Jed Distler

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J.S. Bach bookended his Clavier-Übung III (the German Organ Mass) with his so-called “St. Anne” Prelude and Fugue in E-flat, putting the Prelude at the beginning and the Fugue at the end. Francesco Piemontesi does the same thing here, using Ferruccio Busoni’s wonderful piano transcription... Continue Reading

Big Boxes: Sony’s Rodzinski Album Collection

by Jed Distler

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Despite his high standing among conductors who dominated the American orchestral scene in the mid-20th century, Artur Rodzinski’s reputation seems to have faded over the years. Yet his 1930s and 1940s recordings convey a level of musical directness, textural clarity, and orchestral discipline that often... Continue Reading

Archetypes: Third Coast Percussion Meets the Assads

by David Hurwitz

Archetypes

Archetypes consists of twelve character sketches: Rebel, Innocent, Orphan, Lover, Magician, Ruler, Joker, Caregiver, Sage, Creator, Hero and Explorer. Four movements were composed by guitarist Sérgio Assad, four by multi-instrumental/vocalist Clarice Assad, and one by each of the four members of Third Coast Percussion. The... Continue Reading

Anna Vinnitskaya’s Solid Steel Chopin

by Jed Distler

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The cliché “solid steel” applies to Anna Vinnitskaya’s fingerwork in the Chopin Ballades. Indeed, technical difficulties do not exist for this pianist, although her interpretations fall short where sustaining power and musical insight are concerned. The problem is that she approaches all four Ballades more... Continue Reading

Lukas Geniusas’ Chopin

by Jed Distler

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Chopin’s Mazurkas lend themselves to diverse and even antipodal interpretations, from Ignaz Friedman’s epic wildness to Maryla Jonas’ cameo-like intimacy. As it happens, Lukas Geniusas’ eleven Mazurka performances here run a wide expressive gamut. The F minor Op. 7 No. 3 Mazurka alone conveys both... Continue Reading

Elena Margolina’s Genial (if not memorable) Schubert

by Jed Distler

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Longtime piano mavens encountering this Schubert release may be reminded of Ingrid Haebler’s bygone Philips recordings, in that Elena Margolina plays sensitively and lyrically, even when the music needs to be passionately forthright, or just plain virtuosic. She undermines the inherent bravura in the D.... Continue Reading

Hans Rott’s Unexceptional Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 (video review)

by David Hurwitz

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The Bottom Line: Despite the extraordinary claims made by his partisans, Hans Rott’s (1858-84) music reveals little individuality or self-evident skill. This first volume (of two) contains a lot of routine stuff, much of it incomplete, alongside one promising, fully realized work: the Pastoral Prelude... Continue Reading

Colin Davis’ Happy Beethoven Odyssey (Video Review)

by David Hurwitz

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The Bottom Line: When Colin Davis was “on,” he was as good as any conductor of his day, and for much of this set he was unquestionably on top of his game. Unavailable for many years, his early Beethoven symphony cycle with the London and... Continue Reading

Paolo Zentilin’s Irresistible Giustini Sonatas Op. 1

by Jed Distler

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Scholars acknowledge the twelve sonatas Op. 1 by Lodovico Giustini (1685–1743) published in 1732 as the first sonatas to be expressly written for the fortepiano, specifically the newly invented Cristofori model. Like his better known Baroque contemporaries Bach, Handel, and Scarlatti (who also were born... Continue Reading

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