Latest Music Reviews

The Rapid Transit Pianist, Sound Asleep (for the most part)

by Jed Distler

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I first encountered Jennifer Lim through her breathtakingly fast and repeat-less Goldberg Variations recording. A few years later she made a relatively “normal” yet rather generic Mozart disc for Geniun. Her latest release focuses on so-called “night music”, with works that purportedly evoke darkness, introspection,... Continue Reading

Erato’s Fauré Box: There And Back Again

by Jed Distler

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We’ve been here before. Most of the Fauré recordings contained in this 12-disc set have been reissued too many times to count. Still, for what it’s worth, Erato’s budget price and original jacket format should entice collectors who’ve yet to add Jean-Philippe Collard’s reference-worthy chamber... Continue Reading

A Fabulous Fauré Piano Music Primer

by Jens F. Laurson

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If, as pianist Daniel Grimwood has suggested, it is true that “it is hard to name another composer who enjoys such renown in his homeland yet such neglect elsewhere” and that this is allegedly because “his sound-world…is so Gallic that any listener without French sensibilities... Continue Reading

Reference Recording: Slatkin’s Tchaikovsky Ballets

by David Hurwitz

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There have been many recordings of the three great Tchaikovsky ballets by the same conductor, and Slatkin’s recordings typically get overlooked in any discussion of them. This is a pity, because his versions are uniformly superb, beautifully engineered, and wholly idiomatic. Is it because no... Continue Reading

20th-Century Horn Sonatas

by Jed Distler

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Except for York Bowen, the composers featured on this disc of 20th-century horn sonatas may not be familiar to general collectors. I had never heard of Sixten Sylvan (1914-2001), whose gift for melodic declamation and effectively unpredictable shifts between plain-spoken tonality and modal detours belies... Continue Reading

Blomstedt’s Mostly Beautiful Mozart

by David Hurwitz

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Herbert Blomstedt has taken a cue from the period instrument folks in his recent Mozart and Beethoven, and the results here are mixed. The performance of the G Minor Symphony is gorgeous, with swift tempos and very clean articulation that never precludes characterful phrasing. There’s... Continue Reading

Bach’s Solo Violin & Cello Works Arranged by Gustav Leonhardt

by Jed Distler

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Did you know that Gustav Leonhardt (1928-2012) made solo harpsichord transcriptions for five out of Bach’s six Solo Violin Sonatas and Partitas, plus three of the six Solo Cello Suites? I certainly didn’t. The late harpsichordist/conductor worked on these arrangements between 1968 and 1978. He... Continue Reading

A Four-Handed Fantastique

by Jed Distler

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Before discussing Jean-François Heisser’s piano duo arrangement of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss the fascinating instrument heard in this recording. It’s a “double grand” piano developed by the Pleyel company in the 19th century, with two pianos together in... Continue Reading

Apostel’s Masterful Piano Miniatures

by Jed Distler

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A student of Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg, Hans Erich Apostel (1901-1972) was a composer who was strongly influenced by visual artists of his time. The piano works presented on this CD specifically take inspiration from the drawings of Oskar Kokoschka and Alfred Kubin. But... Continue Reading

Kholodenko’s Better Prokofiev Second Half

by David Hurwitz

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This second installment in the Kholodenko/Harth-Bedoya/Fort Worth Prokofiev Piano Concerto cycle is notably better than the first. There are still some mannerisms that will strike many listeners as excessive, such as the uber-espressivo lingering over bits of the Third Concerto’s central variation theme, and the... Continue Reading

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