Latest Music Reviews

Big Boxes: Rudolf Serkin’s Complete Columbia Recordings

by Jed Distler


The arrival of Sony/BMG’s complete edition of Rudolf Serkin’s Columbia Masterworks and RCA Victor recordings presents a welcome opportunity to explore his artistry in depth. Serkin was a beacon of the literalist aesthetic that gradually took hold in the mid-20th century in the wake of... Continue Reading

Jansons’ Fine And Frustrating Mahler Fifth

by Victor Carr Jr


This release presents both a pleasure and a problem. The pleasure is the highly engaging performance by Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony, which is far better than his tepid 2009 rendition with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Like Kubelik before him (who also recorded... Continue Reading

Big Boxes: 65 Fabulous Cluytens CDs

by David Hurwitz


Belgian-born André Cluytens was a splendid conductor, equally at home in German, French, and Russian music, and this 65 disc set containing his complete orchestral and concerto recordings represents him ideally. There’s a good bit of duplication from mono to stereo, particularly in Beethoven (with... Continue Reading

An Illuminating Schubert/Haydn Coupling

by Jed Distler


Schubert’s final quartet and Haydn’s relatively early G minor quartet from Op. 20 are not such an odd coupling as they appear to be on paper, for each work embodies extreme mood shifts and inventive disquiet. In the Schubert first-movement introduction, the Tetzlaff Quartet’s dynamic... Continue Reading

Nézet-Séguin’s Meddlesome Mendelssohn

by Victor Carr Jr


Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s decidedly effete approach to the Mendelssohn symphonies–small forces, light textures (wrongly) avoiding string vibrato in favor of a “mewing” technique to make a sustained sound–smooths away all traces of virility from what initially can be relatively inhibited music. This is Mendelssohn in rather... Continue Reading

Wit Excels In Dvorák’s Choral Works

by David Hurwitz


Dvorák’s lovely and lyrical Mass in D has never been very popular. It’s a gentle work, simple in style, written to be used as part of an actual service. One Gramophone reviewer contemptuously called it “vanilla-flavored.” I’ve never understood why, if works such as Fauré’s... Continue Reading

Sequeira Costa’s Glacial “Hammerklavier”

by Jed Distler


Sequeira Costa’s recording of Beethoven’s mighty “Hammerklavier” sonata clocks in 51:25, which gives an accurate indication of the veteran pianist’s glacial tempos. Costa’s robust, full-bodied tone and excellent ability to balance Beethoven’s gnarly contrapuntal textures hold interest. Yet his occasional broadenings of tempos that already... Continue Reading

Stoyanova’s Impressive Verismo

by Robert Levine


The whims of opera fans are legendary, and if justice were to be served, soprano Krassimira Stoyanova would be as famous as Anna Netrebko (perhaps) and Angela Gheorghiu (definitely). Hers is a grand sound, with metal behind it, formidable pitch-accuracy, and fine insights into the... Continue Reading

Stewart Goodyear’s Ravel: New Light On Familiar Fare

by Jed Distler


Listeners familiar with the strong linear profile characterizing Stewart Goodyear’s Beethoven sonata recordings will find comparable clarity throughout the Ravel interpretations offered here. In Goodyear’s hands, Jeux d’eau represents sculpted classicism rather than shimmering impressionism, as does the Sonatine’s Menuet. With that in mind, you... Continue Reading

Brilliant Anna Pirozzi As Leonora In Macerata Trovatore

by Robert Levine


Taken live from the stage of the Macerata (Italy) Festival in July and August of 2016, this performance has much to recommend it despite the fact that none of the singers are familiar names. This is the kind of regional performance that the big American... Continue Reading

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