Archive | Reviews

Eleonora Buratto A Wonderful New Butterfly At The Met

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY; April 27, 2022—One of the Met’s productions that is always worth re-visiting is Anthony Minghella’s sensitive handling of Puccini’s saddest opera, Madama Butterfly, which was new in the 2007-2008 season. It has lost none of its luster. Michael Levine’s use of the entire Met stage, with a mirrored ceiling […]

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The Bach Stiftung Live At Last

Vienna, Konzerthaus; February 25, 2022—The Bachstiftung has been churning out highly satisfying Bach cantata recordings one after another for a decade, but it has taken me until now to hear them in action. Finally, Rudolf Lutz’s profoundly informed, theologically earnest, and musically liberal-lively, take-no-prisoners approach surely would be something to behold. Especially in the convivial […]

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Verdi’s Grand Don Carlos Takes The Met’s Stage By Storm

The Metropolitan Opera returned to performances after a month-long hiatus on February 28th with three firsts: Managing Director Peter Gelb’s call for a moment of silence in honor of the war-victimized Ukrainians; the singing of the Ukrainian National Anthem by the Met Chorus; and the first-ever performance of Verdi’s Don Carlos, the original, five-act, French […]

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Library Essentials 4: 3 For The Last Days Of Christmas

Halfway through what in some circles is called the Holy Nights, in others the Twelve Days of Christmas (ending on Twelfth Night, the eve of Epiphany, January 6), I couldn’t resist squeezing in a few more favorite–and in my book essential–Christmas recordings, each with its own programmatic perspective. All are still available in various formats, […]

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Library Essentials 3: Three More (Timeless) Christmas Stars

They may be from the distant past, but these three Christmas recordings hold up as well or better than most anything in the catalog. The first one, a disc from Naxos featuring Victor Hely-Hutchinson’s A Carol Symphony and works by four other composers, is one I recommend every year–because it’s just so well done, the […]

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Library Essentials 2: Two Timeless English Christmas Recordings

In the first couple of decades following the advent of the CD in the mid-1980s, new recordings of Christmas music would flood the market each autumn, from every label, large and small—dozens and dozens of releases, from early music programs to collections of carols from all over the world, Christmas programs from British cathedrals, to […]

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Library Essentials: Five Discs From Christmases Past

Before we focus attention on some of the newer Christmas releases–beginning later this week–we thought it would be useful to look back at a stocking-full of highly recommended earlier recordings that you may have missed, recordings particularly notable for their unique approaches to a body of repertoire at once familiar but either respectfully, often surprisingly […]

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Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones Triumphs At The Met

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, New York October 1, 2021—The big, operatic news in New York has been that the Met is presenting the first opera by a Black composer in its 138-year history. The real news is how potent, persuasive, chilling, and stunning Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut up in My Bones actually is. Debuted in […]

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Rough Ideas And The Little Bach Book

Rough Ideas–Reflections On Music And More; Stephen Hough (Farar, Straus and Giroux; 2020) The Little Bach Book; David Gordon (Lucky Valley Press; 2017) However one manages life in a pandemic, I suggest that the disruption of former routines and the disorienting effects of ongoing uncertainty can be at least partially ameliorated by the transporting power […]

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Russian Threesome With The Vienna Symphony Orchestra

Vienna, Thursday, October 22, 2020—In dutiful adherence to the programmatic formula: Russian Conductor => Russian Composers, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra performed a Russian triptych consisting of Mussorgsky, Shostakovich, and Tchaikovsky. In the theatrical business, that sort of thing is called “type-casting”. In the music world it’s simply a tired cliché that raises the question: Do […]

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