Latest Music Reviews

Superbly Played Rare Polish Piano Quintets

by Jed Distler


Outside of Poland, the composer Ludomir Różicki (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, Różicki tends to try out ideas more... Continue Reading

Celius Dougherty’s Folk Song Settings, Ripe for Rediscovery

by Jed Distler


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


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


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


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


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

Unnecessary Don Giovanni From Paris

by Robert Levine


I can’t imagine anyone racing out to hear this performance, particularly not with at least a dozen better ones already available. It was recorded live in December, 2016 at the Théatre des Champs Elysées and it is note-complete, including the Zerlina/Leporello duet. Its attitude is... Continue Reading

Haitink Dazzles in Bruckner’s Sixth

by David Hurwitz


Well what d’ya know? The old man’s got some piss and vinegar in him still. I’ve never quite forgiven Haitink for giving an interview in Gramophone magazine over a decade ago decrying the tendency of conductors to remake recordings of the same repertoire over and... Continue Reading

Tepid Tippett from Brabbins and the Scottish BBC

by David Hurwitz


If Hyperion goes on to complete this series with Martyn Brabbins, it will only be the third Tippett symphony cycle yet recorded, and the second featuring the same conductor. This fact suggests that the music is still a goodly ways from achieving popularity, even in... Continue Reading

The Well-Tempered String Quartet?

by Jed Distler


With so many recorded versions of Bach’s Goldberg Variations arranged for strings on the market, it was just a matter of time before someone got around to transcribing The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I for string quartet. And that’s precisely what the Borromeo Quartet’s first violinist... Continue Reading

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