Latest Music Reviews

Liszt’s Symphonic Poems Arranged for Two Pianos

by Jed Distler

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Franz Liszt’s piano transcriptions of his symphonic poems are more than mere keyboard substitutes. He deploys the orchestral material between two pianos with clarity, sophistication, and idiomatic flair. Through Liszt’s canny keyboard registration, chains of string tremolos somehow never sound clattery or fatiguing. March motives... Continue Reading

The Minuet: Queen of Dances, Dance of Queens

by David Vernier

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The liner notes to this recording consist of a short story by Guy de Maupassant. It’s actually a charming story about a “rather sad” law student in Paris who enjoys early morning walks in a little “forgotten” section of the Luxembourg Gardens, where he meets... Continue Reading

Still Going Strong: The Juilliard Quartet Plays Beethoven, Davidovsky, & Bartók

by Jed Distler

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Recorded in 2017 to mark its 70th anniversary year, the Juilliard Quartet’s most recent release reflects the ensemble’s decades-long mandate to champion new works, and also revisits two Juilliard repertoire staples. Mario Davidovsky’s Fragments (String Quartet No. 6) typifies this composer’s propensity for jagged dissonant... Continue Reading

Best From Christmas Past: Christmas A Cappella–Songs from Around the World

by David Vernier

The world-class vocal ensemble Chicago a cappella does Christmas choral music fans a real service by daring to create a program entirely of contemporary (primarily within the last 20 or so years) works that defy the usual and predictable holiday concert choices that guarantee instant... Continue Reading

Best From Christmas Past: I SING THE BIRTH

by David Vernier

There may be a better vocal Christmas disc to come along this season, but it would have to be awfully impressive to best this beautifully sung, imaginatively programmed effort from the male-quartet New York Polyphony. As the liner notes point out, Christmas uniquely brings together... Continue Reading

Richly Rendered Rachmaninov Two-Piano Suites

by Victor Carr Jr

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Charles Owen & Katya Apekisheva approach Rachmaninov’s Suites for Two Pianos with a depth and seriousness similar to that found in Ashkenazy and Previn’s classic Decca recording (though without the latter duo’s beguiling lightness of touch). This approach especially suits the moody and introspective Suite... Continue Reading

Playing It Like Toscanini

by Victor Carr Jr

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For Arturo Toscanini’s 150th anniversary, Steven Richman and the Harmonie Ensemble/New York present a collection of orchestral pieces particularly associated with the maestro. In terms of repertoire there’s little here that you probably don’t have duplicated already in your collection, but there is one rarity:... Continue Reading

An Enduring Christmas Oratorio From Mainz

by David Vernier

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Bach’s Christmas Oratorio has been treated very well on disc. In our own archives we list several first-rate choices, including sets from Harmonia Mundi (Jacobs), Hänssler (Rilling), and Channel Classics (Veldhoven). If you don’t own one of those, or happen to be looking for another... Continue Reading

Enjoyable (Mostly) Early Copland from Wilson

by David Hurwitz

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A pattern in this series is starting to emerge. John Wilson and the BBC Philharmonic tend to do better in Copland’s earlier works. The reason isn’t hard to fathom. These pieces are stylistically more diverse and exploratory, as well as less personal, than his later... Continue Reading

Shallow Copland Third from Wilson and the BBC Phil

by David Hurwitz

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This release is billed as Orchestral Works 4, and Symphonies Vol. 3, which strikes me as a bit of overkill, especially given the fact that Copland’s output was not that large. Never mind. The performance of the Third Symphony is swift and light, with the... Continue Reading

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