Latest Music Reviews

Big Boxes: Bernstein Conducts Stravinsky–and How!!

by David Hurwitz


The Bottom Line: Bernstein was an incomparably great Stravinsky interpreter, certainly a better conductor than the composer himself, and this set of his complete recordings for Sony has more than it’s share of reference versions, including stunning performances of the Firebird Suite (sound clip), Petrushka,... Continue Reading

Rafael Orozco’s Chopin

by Jed Distler


2021 marks the 25th anniversary of Rafael Orozco’s untimely death from AIDS at age 50, as well as what would have been his 75th birthday year. The pianist came to international attention at 20 when he won the 1966 Leeds Competition, and soon after recorded... Continue Reading

String Quartet Discoveries: A Polish Haydn?

by Jens F. Laurson


This disc of the first-ever recordings of the String Quartets Op. 1 Nos.1-3 by Józef Elsner (1769-1854) is not the first disc of Elsner string quartets, but it marks the first time I took note of a name I’ll now never forget. They are such... Continue Reading

Blomstedt’s New Brahms 2 Improves on 1

by David Hurwitz


Herbert Blomstedt’s new recording of the Brahms Second Symphony and Academic Festival Overture improves markedly on his prior Gewandhaus Orchestra version of Symphony No. 1. That previous release was frankly dull. While not perfect, this performance of the Second has plenty of the impetus and... Continue Reading

Eivind Groven, The Norwegian Vaughan Williams

by David Hurwitz


Eivind Groven (1901-77) was the closest thing Norway got to a composer like Ralph Vaughan Williams. His music is saturated with the melodic and harmonic colorings of Norwegian folk music, and yet in these two symphonies he doesn’t quote any actual folk tunes. Rather, he... Continue Reading

A Beethoven, Bartók, and Bach “Prism”

by Jed Distler


It is fitting that the Danish String Quartet programs Beethoven’s C-sharp minor quartet Op. 131 alongside Bartók’s Quartet No. 1, for their commonalities are revealing. Each work’s movements play continuously without interruption. And just as Beethoven begins his quartet with a brooding, intensely building fugue,... Continue Reading

Big Boxes: Warner’s Stravinsky Edition

by Jed Distler


Warner Classics’ edition marking the 50th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s death offers a not-quite-complete yet very well-rounded overview of the composer’s output, together with an indispensable historical component. Whether or not the performances all hold equal appeal, or represent the best choices available to the... Continue Reading

Suchon: Not Quite Wonderful Orchestral Works

by David Hurwitz


Eugen Suchon (1908-93) is called by the note-writer of this release the most “influential” Slovak composer of the mid to late 20th century. I’m not so sure what that means. You don’t often hear about a “Suchon School”, at least not outside of Slovakia. His... Continue Reading

Halvorsen Orchestral Music Vol. 4: Still Going Strong

by David Hurwitz


If this latest volume in Chandos’ ongoing series of discs devoted to the orchestral works of Johan Halvorsen is perhaps a tiny bit less interesting than its predecessors, it’s only because it contains no major work. Nevertheless, the bits and pieces we do get are... Continue Reading

CD From Hell: Currentzis Sweats Beethoven’s Seventh

by David Hurwitz


After Teodor Currentzis’ atrocious, inhibited Beethoven Fifth, this Seventh sounds like it might turn out better. True, the diminuendos on every woodwind phrase in the introduction are annoying, but once the first movement gets going there’s plenty of energy and rhythmic point. On the other... Continue Reading

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