Latest Music Reviews

Finally, The Szell Box

by David Hurwitz

SzellEdition

Go ahead. Pull out any disc at random. Chances are you’ll be holding a reference recording for the work in question. Based on the recorded evidence, George Szell was simply the finest conductor of the twentieth century. No one else approached him in the consistently... Continue Reading

Joy In The Mourning: Josquin Des Prez Funeral Motets

by Jens F. Laurson

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You wouldn’t expect a disc of Funeral Motets & Deplorations to be as uplifting, looking at this release from Cappella Amsterdam with Josquin Des Prez’s music of that description. But uplifting it is. Not, obviously, in a happy, care-free way like watching a matinee of... Continue Reading

Rossini’s Pageant-Like Semiramide Beautifully Served

by Robert Levine

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This, Rossini’s 34th, is his longest and last Italian opera. It is a behemoth–just under four hours of music, with a 10-minute overture, a 25-minute, multi-part introduction, lengthy, complex finales to each act, six multi-sectioned arias (including a “mad scene” for bass), a trio, and... Continue Reading

CD from Hell: Alien Das Lied von der Erde from Rattle

by David Hurwitz

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Here’s another wholly characteristic release in BR Klassik’s ongoing series, “Crappy Mahler from Munich.” If Simon Rattle’s first recording of Das Lied von der Erde was nothing special, this new one is just strange. Tenor Stuart Skelton handles it best. He has an exciting voice,... Continue Reading

CD from Chelm: Another Dull Jansons Mahler 2

by David Hurwitz

Mahler2Jansons

You read it right–this is not a “CD from Hell,” but rather a “CD from Chelm,” the notorious city of fools in Jewish folklore, and a dumber release than this it would be difficult to imagine. Jansons has recorded Mahler’s Second Symphony three times now,... Continue Reading

Captivating Choral Music From Cambridge

by David Vernier

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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

RAATS-GORECKI-PART_Kaleidoscopic_APARTE_jens-f-laurson_ClassicsToday

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

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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

DvorakHemsing

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

Schreker

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

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