Latest Music Reviews

Grigory Sokolov At Esterházy Palace

by Jed Distler


Ordinarily a piano recital containing three minor-key Haydn sonatas on the first half followed by Schubert’s Impromptus D. 935 on the second half would never provoke a box office stampede. Then again, a cult figure like Grigory Sokolov could play the C major scale and... Continue Reading

Doremi’s Live, Grotty-Sounding Rudolf Serkin

by Jed Distler


Interpretive differences between Rudolf Serkin’s familiar 1968 studio recording of the Brahms First piano concerto with George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra and this April 18th concert performance from the same year are marginal at best. Not that it matters, because the skewed balances and... Continue Reading

Sergiu Celibidache’s 5 (Not 10) Best Recordings–Twice As Slow, Half As Many

by David Hurwitz


Romanian conductor and famed nutcase Sergiu Celibidache didn’t believe in recordings, which didn’t stop his family and the record labels from capitalizing on his legacy after his death in 1996. Famous for his excruciatingly slow tempos, much of the credit for his late success belongs... Continue Reading

The Unsweetened Beauty Of Carolin Widmann

by Jens F. Laurson


Music may well be demanding but it should always be entertaining. That’s the specialty of Carolin Widmann, who makes beautiful music sound more interesting (see her Schumann Violin Sonatas, for example) and tough music–whether Feldman, Boulez, or, as on this disc, George Benjamin–more ingratiating. Benjamin’s... Continue Reading

Yuan Sheng’s Delightful Tchaikovsky

by Jed Distler


The 24 short pieces making up Tchaikovsky’s Album for the Young Op. 39 were inspired by Schumann’s similarly named set of children’s teaching pieces. Their technical demands are modest, yet their melodic invention and diversity of mood never fail to enchant. The twelve Op. 40... Continue Reading

Michael Gielen’s 10 Best Recordings (video review)

by David Hurwitz


Michael Gielen’s recorded legacy is one of uncompromising dedication to the notion that music represents a “truth” that is often as ugly, cruel and painful as it is pleasant, beautiful and enjoyable. Sometimes the music fit his “concept” and sometimes it didn’t, but one thing... Continue Reading

Handel’s Unsung Heroes

by David Vernier


The “unsung heroes” on this program are supposed to be the obbligato instrumental soloists and other prominently featured orchestral players that Handel often took pains to highlight in partnership with his star, virtuoso vocalists–and there’s no question that through the carefully chosen selections on this... Continue Reading

Johanna Beyer’s Woodwind Music

by Jed Distler


The German/American composer Johanna Beyer (1888-1944) is hard to pin down. On one hand, her early electronic work Music of the Spheres, the Movement for Two Pianos, and the two string quartets reflect the energy of experimental composer friends and colleagues like Henry Cowell, Percy... Continue Reading

The Unforgettable “Forgotten”

by Jed Distler


Having reviewed Xiaoya Liu’s brilliant edition of Carl Vine’s four piano sonatas elsewhere, I was not at all surprised by the superb technique, sensitivity, and individuality that this gifted pianist brings to each and every selection throughout this release. Her Mozart C minor Fantasy is... Continue Reading

Riccardo Muti’s Ten Best Non-Operatic Recordings (video review)

by David Hurwitz


Riccardo Muti made many superb recordings, and yet I continue to find his discography unsatisfying in some respects. As a recording artist, he was curiously indifferent to sonic considerations, making his output more variable than it should have been. As with most major artists, he... Continue Reading

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