Latest Music Reviews

Emerson Quartet Serves Tchaikovsky With A Side Of Schoenberg

by Victor Carr Jr

Emerson

This is a rather unusual pairing, as Tchaikovsky and Schoenberg seem about as far apart as any two composers could be. (Although one could argue that Schoenberg’s highly-expressive, post-romantic work is not too distant in style from Tchaikovsky’s even more highly-expressive Pathètique symphony.) In any... Continue Reading

Giltburg’s Liszt: Impressive Pianism, Frustrating Musicianship

by Jed Distler

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Boris Giltburg’s Liszt Transcendental Études abound with fussy rhythmic adjustments and quirky voicings that usually stop the music in its tracks and prevent a sense of flow and momentum. You hear this right from the start in the opening étude’s accelerandos and ritards (Giltburg’s, not... Continue Reading

Big Boxes: The Classic André Previn

by David Hurwitz

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André Previn is one of those artists who’s difficult to pigeonhole, not that there’s anything wrong with that. A talented pianist, composer, and conductor in both the classical film, and jazz fields, his discography is vast and largely distinguished, but one thing is certain: he... Continue Reading

A Lady Macbeth From Hell

by Jens F. Laurson

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The idea of Verdi’s Macbeth (in the original, dramatically taut 1847 version) performed by a period instrument ensemble is, generously viewed, intriguing–at least when Europa Galante and Fabio Biondi are involved, with all their creditable expertise in Italian music. Granted, Verdi is not Vivaldi and... Continue Reading

Alfred Bruneau’s Oh So Serious Orchestral Bits, Again

by David Hurwitz

Bruneau

This release duplicates exactly a somewhat more lively recording of the same repertoire on Marco Polo featuring James Lockhart and the Rhenish Philharmonic Orchestra. To be honest, Naxos needn’t have bothered doing it again. The music just isn’t that interesting. Bruneau (1857-1934) was an earnest,... Continue Reading

Fellner In Concert: Splendid Liszt, Less Impressive Beethoven

by Jens F. Laurson

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If you favor pianism over star-power, Austrian Till Fellner should be right up your alley. Although the one-time Alfred Brendel-protégée is generally well regarded among connoisseurs, he strikes as perennially underrated. At his worst, Fellner’s style can appear straightforward, neat, and well behaved, making extremes... Continue Reading

Chamayou Dazzles in Saint-Saëns

by David Hurwitz

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Ever since my colleague Jed Distler raved about Bertrand Chamayou’s remarkable release of Liszt’s complete Années de pèlerinage, I have been following his career on disc with great interest. This latest release sustains Mr. Distler’s high opinion of him without question. These have been oodles... Continue Reading

Heino Eller’s Almost Excellent Orchestral Works

by David Hurwitz

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Estonian composer Heino Eller’s (1887-1970) career offers a classic illustration of being a big fish in a small  pond. His was certainly not a great musical voice, but it was an attractive one. Take the Violin Concerto, which probably represents some of his best work.... Continue Reading

Naxos’ Scarlatti Cycle: Volume 21

by Jed Distler

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Soyeon Kate Lee was the featured pianist in Volume Eight of Naxos’ ongoing Scarlatti cycle, and now returns for Volume 21. Overall, her Scarlatti playing remains highly capable, sensitive, and refined, yet occasionally bland. She brings out the lovely harmonic movement in the B-flat K.... Continue Reading

CD From Hell: Disastrous Debussy from Gimeno at the OPL

by David Hurwitz

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Wow, this is bad! Gimeno has amassed quite a discography with the Luxembourg forces: everything from Mahler and Bruckner, to Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Ravel, and now Debussy. So far I’ve only heard the Stravinsky, a pointless exercise in unnecessary repertoire duplication, but I hope to get... Continue Reading

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