Latest Music Reviews

Alsop’s Prokofiev Ends at the End

by David Hurwitz

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Marin Alsop’s Prokofiev Symphony cycle ends, fittingly, with a graceful and winning performance of the uncomplicated Seventh Symphony, featuring light textures, ear-catching woodwind detail in the second movement waltz, and an aptly chipper finale. Prokofiev’s revised ending is included, rather foolishly, all by itself after... Continue Reading

Hausegger’s Lisztian Symphonic Poems

by David Hurwitz

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If you enjoyed Hausegger’s epic Natursymphonie, you may be disappointed with these shorter pieces. They are, in their way, no less ambitious–Hausegger was nothing if not serious, always, but like Liszt in his symphonic poems–with their pretentious philosophical programs–Hausegger aims higher than his grasp. Check... Continue Reading

Mayr’s Miserere & Loretan Litany

by David Vernier

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Giovanni Simone Mayr, also known by his German name Johann Simon Mayr (1763-1845), was a Bavarian-born (to Italian parents) younger contemporary of Mozart who spent his entire career in Italy, making his name and fame as an opera composer (he also was a teacher of... Continue Reading

The Miracle of The Red Book of Montserrat

by David Vernier

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The music on this program comes from the 14th century El Llibre Vermell de Montserrat–The Red Book of Montserrat–so named because of its location–the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat in Catalonia–and because of the red velvet cover it acquired in the 19th century.... Continue Reading

Superbly Played Rare Polish Piano Quintets

by Jed Distler

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Outside of Poland, the composer Ludomir Różycki (1883-1953) has received little attention. However, listeners attracted to sweeping, rapturous late-Romantic fare will find his three-movement, 42-minute-long piano quintet full of compelling themes and canny deployment of instrumental forces. Granted, Różycki tends to try out ideas more... Continue Reading

Celius Dougherty’s Folk Song Settings, Ripe for Rediscovery

by Jed Distler

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Although Celius Dougherty (1902-1986) gained renown as an accompanist to some of the finest singers during the 1930s and 1940s, he left behind an even greater legacy of works for voice and piano. These include some of the best folk song settings penned by any... Continue Reading

Handy Ibert Collection from Järvi

by David Hurwitz

Ibert

Everyone needs at least one disc of Ibert’s most popular pieces. He was a fine composer, but one whose output remains less known than it should be. Is it neoclassical, impressionist, modern-popular, or perhaps a bit of all of them? Here’s a chance to listen... Continue Reading

Heroic Fassbaender Survives Kindertotenlieder with Celibidache

by David Hurwitz

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Brigitte Fassbaender deserves a medal for not just getting through this reading, but for making it a uniquely gripping collaboration with Sergiu Celidibache–famous for his slow tempos, obsessive attention to detail, and general dislike of Mahler. This is, without question, the darkest, saddest version of... Continue Reading

Wagner Concert Overtures, Sort Of

by David Hurwitz

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Last time I checked, the Siegfried Idyll was not a concert overture. It’s a pity, really, because Wagner did write more than we find here, including the excellent Faust Overture and Rule Britannia Overture. Had they been included, we would have had a very handy... Continue Reading

Ashkenazy’s Bach French Suites

by Jed Distler

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Although Vladimir Ashkenazy has long retreated from playing the piano in public, he still achieves a high level of performance under studio conditions. The pianist was 78 and 79 when he set down Bach’s French Suites, and his straightforward musicianship, textual clarity, and spot-on tempos... Continue Reading

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