Latest Music Reviews

Elena Kuschnerova’s Liszt

by Jed Distler

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Years ago I reviewed a mostly workmanlike all-Bach program from 2000 on the Orfeo label featuring Moscow-born/Germany-based pianist Elena Kuschnerova that contained one fabulous performance of the Partita No. 6 in E minor. Similarly, her Liszt recital for Bella Musica features one terrific selection among... Continue Reading

Mariam Batsashvili’s Chopin And Liszt Recital

by Jed Distler

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I first became acquainted with the Georgian-born pianist Mariam Batsashvili through a recording on the Cobra label containing various Bach, Handel, and Mozart transcriptions, all decently performed but poorly engineered. Happily she receives vibrant and lifelike sonics for her Warner Classics debut. Liszt’s Bénédiction De... Continue Reading

The Vivaldi Collection: Cello Concerto Edition

by Jens F. Laurson

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Unerringly, the admirable Vivaldi Edition on Naïve continues with its fashion models on the covers and top-of-the-line Italian and French baroque ensembles on the inside. The third volume of Cello Concertos is no different in this than most other discs in the 61-volume long-running series:... Continue Reading

Under the Radar: Jansons’ Terrific Brahms First

by David Hurwitz

[RIP Mariss Jansons] Jansons’ previous two releases in his Brahms cycle featured excellent playing in a generalized sort of way, but little more. This final installment is different. Instead of surface prettiness and a moment-by-moment fussing over details, Jansons has mastered the Brahmsian art of... Continue Reading

Goodall’s Tristan und Isolde Available Again

by Jed Distler

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The title of Alice Cooper’s 1971 album “Love It to Death” all too often applied to Reginald Goodall’s conducting of Wagner. He favored slow tempos that allowed him to bask in detail and thematic connections, yet all too often yielded rhythmically enervated and dramatically amorphous... Continue Reading

The Well-Trebled Christmas Oratorio

by Jens F. Laurson

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If you like trebles in Bach—and specifically in the Christmas Oratorio—why not opt for those that Bach, a few generations back, worked with himself? Certainly, this latest production has much going for it, whether on CD, DVD, or Blu-ray. (I worked with the DVD.) The... Continue Reading

Puccini’s First Opera’s First Version: Le Villi (The Willis)

by Robert Levine

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This is not only a rare recording of Puccini’s first opera, it is the first version of his first opera, never before recorded. It dates from 1884; it was revised after Manon Lescaut and La bohème, at which point Puccini changed its title to Le... Continue Reading

Under The Radar: Music In Renaissance Prague

by David Vernier

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There is an ancient depiction of Bohemia as a rose, with Prague at its center, which presumably is the source of the disc’s title (and stylized cover art), although, from a marketing standpoint, the exclusive Latin inscription on the CD’s front cover is more likely... Continue Reading

Worthy Ravel Concertos from Slatkin and Dumont

by David Hurwitz

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It’s amazing how many bad recordings there are of Ravel’s piano concertos, so I’m pleased to report that this release does them both proud. François Dumont plays the two works with the sort of direct, unfussy virtuosity and, well, class that we usually call “French,”... Continue Reading

François Chaplin’s Brahms

by Jed Distler

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Arthur Rubinstein’s “chamber music for piano solo” description of Brahms’ later pieces for the instrument often comes to mind while listening to François Chaplin. In Op. 118’s opening salvo, for example, the pianist gives cogent linear shape to the left hand’s arpeggiated figurations, following each... Continue Reading

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