Latest Music Reviews

Captivating Choral Music From Cambridge

by David Vernier


I’ve said this many times before, so I won’t mention the fact that many music listeners, even those whose primary interest is choral music, have an aversion–or at least a bit of a resistance–to recordings by children’s or youth choirs. And once again, I am... Continue Reading

Górecki Spoils The Party

by Jens F. Laurson


A disc of chamber music for clarinet, piano, and cello from minimalist Jaan Rääts, Surprised-by-Beauty composer Arvo Pärt, and on-and-off populist composer Henryk Górecki with titles like Kaleidoscopic Etudes (Rääts), Mozart-Adagio (Pärt), and Górecki’s Music of Skylarks looks a promising thing, down to the appealing... Continue Reading

Pavel Kolesnikov’s Imaginatively Programmed Beethoven Recital

by Jed Distler


Pavel Kolesnikov begins this all-Beethoven recital with four unpublished short pieces circa 1792-1803. They are Bagatelles in spirit if not in name, and Kolesnikov molds them with minute calibrations of articulation that one might describe as a synthesis of Wilhelm Kempff’s cameo-like watercolors and Glenn... Continue Reading

Good, Not Great, Dvorák and Suk Violin Works

by David Hurwitz


Eldbjorg Hemsing is clearly a talented player, and there’s nothing serious wrong with these performances. It’s just that they don’t rise to the level of the competition. In the Dvorák concerto, perhaps there’s just a touch of heaviness in the finale, less the responsibility of... Continue Reading

Impressive Schreker from Falletta

by David Hurwitz


JoAnn Falletta turns in another fine recording of less than familiar repertoire. Prelude to a Drama, an expanded version of the overture to the opera Die Gezeichneten, has received many recordings to date, but none as cogent and exciting as this one. Falletta encourages her... Continue Reading

Fair-To-Middling Debussy Etudes

by Jed Distler


The Debussy Etudes seem to be recorded more frequently these days, and not just on account of 2018’s Debussy centenary. As a consequence, the competition is strong and the stakes are high. Élodie Vignon’s etched finger-work and dry-point articulation evoke the kind of French School... Continue Reading

Craig Sheppard’s Masterful Art of Fugue

by Jed Distler


Given Craig Sheppard’s highly distinctive recordings of the Well-Tempered Clavier, the Partitas, and the Inventions, it comes as no surprise that this pianist’s masterful affinity for Bach extends to The Art of Fugue. It’s a challenge to face more than 75 minutes’ worth of counterpoint... Continue Reading

Févin, qui?

by David Vernier


On hearing this, there’s an excellent chance Antoine de Févin may become your new favorite composer you’ve never heard of. The late-15th-century French composer (also known for his singing) was a master of parody–the practice by which an existing work was reworked, expanded, arranged, or... Continue Reading

Manze’s Too-Tepid Vaughan Williams 5 & 6

by Victor Carr Jr


Andrew Manze’s lite-touch manner works better in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 5, where he successfully conveys the music’s pastoral and elegiac modes, especially in the serene slow movement, which features lovely playing by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic strings. This approach doesn’t really suit the... Continue Reading

Yo-Yo Ma Revisits Bach’s Cello Suites

by Jed Distler


When Yo-Yo Ma’s first recording of the Bach cello suites appeared in 1983, the young cellist’s beautifully sculpted if sometimes generalized interpretations easily held their own among the catalog’s reference versions. His 1997 remakes were strikingly different, reflecting the influence of period-instrument performance in regard... Continue Reading

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