Latest Music Reviews

Haitink’s Fifth And (presumably) Last Beethoven Ninth

by Jed Distler

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Bernard Haitink famously disparaged conductors who re-recorded and re-re-recorded certain works ad infinitum. Of course Haitink ignored his own advice by churning out unnecessary Mahler and Bruckner symphony remakes year after year. Granted, one could argue that Haitink’s mostly superb live 2005/06 London Symphony Orchestra... Continue Reading

Big Boxes: Paul Lewis’ Beethoven Cycles At Super-Budget Price

by Jed Distler

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In anticipation of 2020’s Beethoven anniversary year, Harmonia Mundi has bundled together Paul Lewis’ respective Beethoven cycles devoted to the piano sonatas and piano concertos, along with the pianist’s Diabelli Variations. The concertos contain Lewis’ most consistently satisfying Beethoven playing on disc, which is free... Continue Reading

Peñalosa Perfección

by David Vernier

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Looking into the not-too-distant past—the early 1990s—you may recall another vocal quartet, not four men but four women, who called themselves Anonymous 4, and whose illustrious career spanned a couple of decades-plus. Their specialty was medieval chant and polyphony (with occasional forays into modern repertoire),... Continue Reading

Muller’s Musically Meaningful Mozart Cycle Continues

by Jed Distler

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In contrast to the poised symmetry and scrupulously balanced Mozart playing of pianists such as Walter Gieseking, Marc-André Hamelin, and Christian Blackshaw (to name just a few), Jean Muller is often angular and edgy. He’s not afraid to speed up a phrase following an emphatic... Continue Reading

The Cleveland Rusalka That Made Salzburg Gasp

by Jens F. Laurson

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When the Cleveland Orchestra performed Dvořák’s Rusalka at the Salzburg Festival in 2008, the reception was rapturous. “That’s how an orchestra should play opera!” was the consensus, formed as it was coincidentally during a year in which the Vienna Philharmonic delivered particularly sloppy performances. (Since... Continue Reading

Imogen Cooper’s French and Spanish Recital

by Jed Distler

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In a review of Imogen Cooper’s 2006 Zankel Hall recital, the New York Times described her playing as “virtuosity without razzle-dazzle”. That more or less sums up this French and Spanish Chandos recital. She brings crispness and point to Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso, yet puts... Continue Reading

Tanja Tetzlaff’s Bach, With An Unhelpful Helping Of Encke

by Jens F. Laurson

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Not yet another recording of the Bach Cello Suites? It feels like everyone tall enough to hold a cello must also record them. The problem isn’t more choice, which itself is always a good thing, but recordings that bring nothing new—much less better—to the table.... Continue Reading

Lintu’s Slick Kullervo

by David Hurwitz

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Can you believe that four conductors have now recorded Sibelius’ once vanishingly rare Kullervo Symphony twice (Segerstam, Davis, Berglund, and Vänskä), and there must be a half a dozen other versions buzzing about? Ondine already has one of the reference versions (Segerstam’s), and so I’m... Continue Reading

Abbado’s Bruckner A & Z

by Jens F. Laurson

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A new recording of Claudio Abbado conducting Bruckner symphonies at the Lucerne Festival? Of Symphonies 1 and 9, no less, bookending Bruckner’s output—a beginning and an end, entry and exit, and wonderfully symbolic? Not so fast. Both performances had their previous outings. The First on... Continue Reading

Suzuki Sucks In Beethoven’s Ninth

by David Hurwitz

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Remember Sugar Plums? That was the Hoffnung Festival performance by the Dolmetsch Ensemble of Tchaikovsky’s greatest hits (including the 1812 Overture) on baroque instruments. It was ridiculous and hilarious, intentionally so. This Beethoven Ninth is ridiculous and probably more obnoxious than hilarious, because its ridiculousness... Continue Reading

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