Latest Music Reviews

Brian Thornton And Spencer Myer Play Brahms

by Jed Distler


The first thing you notice about these Brahms performances is cellist Brian Thornton’s warm, viola-like sonority, which boasts seamless uniformity between registers, albeit with occasional coarseness when pushing the low C and G into fortissimo territory. The composer’s gnarly keyboard writing poses no problems for... Continue Reading

Muti’s Feel-Good Bruckner Ninth

by Victor Carr Jr


Riccardo Muti prioritizes beauty of sound over all else in this performance, with the result that you pay far more attention to the orchestral playing than to Bruckner’s music. Muti lavishes special care on the woodwinds, revealing much inner detail not usually heard (which is... Continue Reading

Nino Rota: A Franco-Russian Alliance

by James Imam


Nino Rota was a craftsman composer, and he drew his musical raw materials from far and wide. Indeed, elements of baroque music, medieval music, world music, sentimental ballads, the music of Italian village bands, and, after his trips to America in the 1930s, the music... Continue Reading

Odhecaton’s Exemplary Palestrina

by David Vernier


Only heaven (and perhaps the Pope) knows exactly how many recordings there must be of Palestrina’s famed Missa Papae Marcelli, but it’s unusual to find one sung by an all-male adult choir–scored for alto/tenor/baritone/bass (no boy trebles). If you’ve sung these pieces–or are used to... Continue Reading

Floyd’s Susannah From St. Petersburg Opera

by Robert Levine


The story of Susannah and the Elders is from the Book of Daniel: Susannah, the beautiful wife of Jo’akim, is a lovely, innocent, God-fearing woman, whose appealing looks have come to the attention of a pair of lecherous town judges. She loves to stroll and... Continue Reading

Brautigam’s Diabelli Variations: A Crowning Achievement

by Jed Distler


Ronald Brautigam brings his solo Beethoven cycle for BIS to a triumphant conclusion with the long-awaited Diabelli Variations, in one of its finest recordings ever. My late colleague Harris Goldsmith wrote about three basic interpretive approaches to the Diabellis. One is cumulative, by way of... Continue Reading

Davis And Melbourne Impress In Ives, Volume 3

by David Hurwitz


This very generous program upholds the high standards that Andrew Davis and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra have established thus far in their survey of Ives’ orchestral works. The Second Orchestral Set isn’t as popular as the First, perhaps because it lacks an evocative title. Orchestral... Continue Reading

Pizzetti’s Tepid Symphony in A

by David Hurwitz


Pizzetti’s Symphony in A dates from 1940. It’s a substantial work, forty-three minutes long in this performance, with beautiful moments–especially those employing modal harmony. That said, the piece is almost completely tensionless. Yes, the finale contains some strident march episodes, and there’s a swift scherzo,... Continue Reading

Michelle Ross’ Bach Solo CD Debut

by Jed Distler


As with many of today’s young violinists, Michelle Ross pursues a multitude of interests, ranging from traditional repertoire to improvising, as well as composing and multi-media collaborations. She garnered recent attention by performing Bach’s unaccompanied Sonatas and Partitas in non-traditional venues. Ross describes her relationship... Continue Reading

World Premiere Of Mercadante’s Francesca–A Nice Find

by Robert Levine


Saverio Mercadante (1795-1870), composer of 60 operas, was once up there with Bellini and Donizetti; his operas have taken longer to find 20th and 21st century champions than those of the others. Being composed, as it was, in 1830 (for Madrid), Francesca da Rimini was... Continue Reading

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