Latest Music Reviews

Powerful, Compelling Shostakovich Fifth From Honeck and Pittsburgh

by Victor Carr Jr


Manfred Honeck makes the Shostakovich Fifth sound freshly-composed–quite an accomplishment for this certified warhorse. His scrupulous attention to Shostakovich’s meticulous dynamic markings and instrumental balances–the harp emerging perfectly from the orchestral texture in the first movement, the audible piano at the climax of the adagio,... Continue Reading

17-Plus Hours of Radiant Sound From Gundula Janowitz

by Robert Levine


Her voice was neither the most potent nor her interpretations particularly deep, but there were few disappointments in the career of Gundula Janowitz. A gleaming soprano without the slightest hint of mezzo coloration, she excelled in music by Mozart and Richard Strauss as well as... Continue Reading

La Verdi Is Game For Rota’s Sacred Music

by James Imam


There was more to Nino Rota than his famous film scores. The point is persuasively–and repeatedly–made by Decca and The Orchestra Giuseppe Verdi di Milano in their ongoing compendium of the the composer’s varied works. Still, the series’ fourth installment offers fresh surprises: by demonstrating... Continue Reading

From The Sublime To The Unmemorable

by David Vernier


A new recording by the Elora Festival Singers–now called simply The Elora Singers–is always cause for interest, and usually signifies yet another first-rate addition to the catalog. To one who has heard nearly all of the choir’s recordings and has heard the ensemble live on... Continue Reading

Mark Elder Pacifies Vaughan Williams “War” Symphonies

by Victor Carr Jr


The Fourth and the Sixth are the most dramatic and violent of Vaughan Williams’ nine symphonies, yet somehow Mark Elder manages to render them both with all the malice of a toothless shark. No. 4’s signature features–bracing dissonance and agitation–pretty much go for naught as... Continue Reading

Bellini’s Bianca e Gernando In Splendid First Recording

by Robert Levine


This, Bellini’s second opera (actually the first, after the student production Adelson e Salvini) got off to a poor start: scheduled for January 1826 at the Teatro San Carlo Naples, and called Bianca e Fernando, it was canceled before the premiere either due to the... Continue Reading

Zimerman Plays Schubert: Master And Micromanager

by Jed Distler


Krystian Zimerman’s first solo release in years showcases both the pianist’s painstaking workmanship and his micromanaging tendencies. The micromanager prevails in the B-flat sonata, particularly in the first-movement exposition’s ritards, caesuras, tenutos, dynamic taperings, and other expressive contrivances that draw attention to the pianist over... Continue Reading

Lezhneva Flies And Mumbles Through Graun

by Robert Levine


Oh no, Julia! I loved you so. Your Rossini CD was great–filled with flights of coloratura as well as darker, introspective moments. Your lovely Roseanne in Decca’s complete Alessandro was graceful, tasteful, and seductive. Your diction was dreadful, as ever, in Hasse’s Siroe, but still,... Continue Reading

Big Boxes: Solti’s Complete Chicago Recordings–For What They’re Worth

by David Hurwitz


Since this 108-CD set contains the complete Solti/Chicago recordings, there’s no need to discuss its contents disc by disc (thank God). It’s all in there, including the fine RCA Verdi Requiem. It does, however, raise some issues worth considering if you’re contemplating purchase and are... Continue Reading

Big Boxes: Barenboim’s Complete DG Solo Recordings

by Jed Distler


To mark Daniel Barenboim’s 75th birthday on November 15, 2017, Deutsche Grammophon issues a 39-CD original jacket-style boxed set encompassing all of the pianist’s solo recordings for the yellow label, with one exception (see below). The collection also includes Barenboim’s early solo releases for the... Continue Reading

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