Latest Music Reviews

Alexandra Sostmann’s Renaissance-Contemporary Connection

by Jens F. Laurson


Working in a record store (remember those?) you could learn about some intriguing couplings of taste–some more, some less obvious. Hard rock and romantic music (Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Wagner) is perhaps the most noticeable. Another one is early music (up to, but not necessarily including... Continue Reading

Donizetti’s Delightful Quartets

by Jed Distler


Gaetano Donizetti’s reputation as one of the bel canto school’s most influential and prolific composers tends to overshadow his industrious accomplishments in other genres. The majority of his 18 string quartets date from the composer’s early 20s, after he had studied with Simon Mayr, who... Continue Reading

Rattle Whiffs On Rachmaninov’s Second

by David Hurwitz


Does Simon Rattle do anything consistently well aside from Szymanowski? I mean, for what music does he show a special affinity? What composers does he interpret that make you look forward to his next release? I can’t think of any. I doubt he can either.... Continue Reading

Big Boxes: Pierre Barbizet–An Accompanist Up Front

by Jed Distler


Collectors are mostly likely to know pianist Pierre Barbizet (1922-1990) as violinist Christian Ferras’ accompanist. Indeed, nine of the 14 CDs making up Warner’s complete edition of Barbizet’s Erato and HMV recordings feature Ferras, and are part of Warner’s complete Ferras edition. That means you... Continue Reading

Schubert’s Lovable Dances

by Jed Distler


Schubert was a veritable dancing machine who tossed off minuets, waltzes, gallops, and other such pieces in droves when he wasn’t otherwise busy with symphonies, sonatas, chamber works, and hundreds of songs. He usually grouped them in batches, although brief little stand-alone dances pop up... Continue Reading

The BEST Peter Grimes–Yes, The Best!

by Robert Levine


There is a handful of frequently recorded operas, all considered “challenging works”, that have never had a bad recording. One can come across, without searching too hard, a mediocre Bohème, an undercast Butterfly, a lackluster Cosi fan tutte, and an Aida or Don Carlo or... Continue Reading

Mitsuko Uchida’s Second Beethoven Concerto Cycle

by Jens F. Laurson


Mitsuko Uchida’s slightly-under-the-radar cycle of Beethoven Piano Concertos with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the artless Kurt Sanderling (Philips/Decca) is one of my favorites for its almost self-effacing musicality and the orchestral precision that translates into lightness without sacrificing oomph. On Jed Distler... Continue Reading

Piotr Anderszewski’s Revelatory Bach Pianism

by Jed Distler


For his latest Bach outing, Piotr Anderszewski has selected a well-contrasted and intelligently programmed group of twelve Preludes and Fugues from The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II. His Bach pianism is a revelation in many respects. For starters, vocal music and dance idioms inform Anderszewski’s tempos.... Continue Reading

CD From Hell: Antonini’s Horrible Haydn “Farewell”

by David Hurwitz


This disc is so bad that I’m reviewing it twice, both as a video on my YouTube channel and here. What is it about Haydn that leads performers to treat him as a blank canvas on which to smear whatever interpretive graffiti suits them? In... Continue Reading

Video Review: Gielen’s Gloriously Gory Mahler Das Klagende Lied

by David Hurwitz


The Bottom Line: Finally, a performance of Mahler’s youthful horror story that realizes every gruesome detail with positively sadistic relish. There are other fine versions in the catalog, Tilson Thomas and Chailly especially, but this live version is the most graphic, exciting, and true to... Continue Reading

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