Latest Music Reviews

Eero Heinonen Returns To Sibelius

by Jed Distler


It’s easy to take a pass on Sibelius’ piano music, since much of it admittedly consists of salon-type fare intended for home use, or innocuous character pieces tossed off in between the more serious symphonies and tone poems. Yet the fact remains that more and... Continue Reading

Elmas’ Chopinesque (Sort Of) Piano Concertos

by David Hurwitz


Stéphan Elmas (1862-1937) was, according the booklet notes accompanying this release, the first Armenian composer of note to write a piano concerto, and although the two works on this disc date from the latter half of the nineteenth century, they could have originated fifty years... Continue Reading

Three Idil Biret Gaspards For The Price Of One

by Jed Distler


Idil Biret first recorded Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit in 1965 for the Vega label, but she did not approve its issue at the time. After recently discovering an acetate LP master in her archive, the pianist has now allowed it to be released, alongside... Continue Reading

Hayo Boerema’s Vierne Cycle

by Jed Distler


Although Louis Vierne composed his six organ symphonies with the sound of the Romantic Cavaillé-Coll church organs and large cathedrals in mind, one can argue that smaller spaces better absorb the music’s rhythmic variety, harmonic richness, and many moments of dense chromatic counterpoint without compromising... Continue Reading

Virtuosi Singing And Playing–Rossini Tenors

by Robert Levine


This is the CD I only could have dreamed about in the 1970s. When the bel canto revival began in the ’50s, it was led by sopranos and (occasionally) mezzos. After the “usual suspect” operas were revived and recorded–Barbiere, Cenerentola, L’elisir, Lucia–one began to wonder... Continue Reading

Contemporary Solo Cello Masterworks From Two “Great Danes”

by Jed Distler


Per Nørgård composed his first solo cello sonata between the ages of 19 and 21. His seriousness, sensitivity, and strong personality were clearly present early on. The first movement’s brooding lyricism never turns on itself, while the microtonal gestures are expressively discreet and anything but... Continue Reading

Revelatory Herrmann from the PostClassical Ensemble on Naxos (Video Review)

by David Hurwitz


The Bottom Line: This stunning new release features the world premiere of Whitman, a radio play by Norman Corwin with evocative music by Bernard Herrmann, who collaborated with Corwin no less than 21 times. With Whitman’s poetry splendidly recited by William Sharp, the entire thirty... Continue Reading

Crumb’s Metamorphoses (Book 1): True to Form

by David Hurwitz


Crumb subtitles his Metamorphoses (Book 1) “Ten Fantasy-Pieces (after celebrated paintings),” and if that sounds like fun, it is. The paintings are by Klee, van Gogh, Chagall, Whistler, Jasper Johns, Gaugin, Dali and Kandinsky. It’s a great lineup, and in realizing this updated “Pictures at... Continue Reading

Pygmalion’s Superb Bach Motets

by Jens F. Laurson


Bach’s motets are difficult as the dickens but among the most beautiful, uplifting, and refined works of a composer’s output that is positively stacked with beautiful, uplifting, and refined works. If you’ve ever sung them yourself, you know how demanding they are; everyone else can... Continue Reading

Reference Recording: Charles Rosen’s Distinctive Diabellis

by Jed Distler


Carlton Classics’ CD reissue of Charles Rosen’s 1977 Beethoven Diabelli Variations lasted for about 10 seconds in the catalog. The physical disc has long been difficult to source. However, one now can access the performance via digital platforms. It remains one of the most distinctive... Continue Reading

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