Archive | Reviews

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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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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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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Argerich Bewitches With Prokofiev In Vienna

Vienna, Konzerthaus; March 2, 2020—Martha Argerich is one of the very few classical music superstars that please both the hard-nosed aficionados and the broader public. She’s a Grigory Sokolov and Lang Lang rolled into one. If you don’t like Argerich, you also subscribe to “Curmudgeon Monthly”. Five decades into her career she increasingly resembles Mim […]

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A Rousing And Moving Mother of Us All

The Metropolitan Museum of Art – American Wing; New York, February 14, 2020—The famous quilt collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s American Wing is an apt metaphor for Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein’s 1947 opera The Mother of Us All. The quilts are the handiwork of women, often collectively stitched-together patchworks, made up of […]

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A Taste of Regime Change At The Bavarian State Opera

Munich, Herkulessaal; January 13, 2020—Regime change is coming to the Bavarian State Opera and its orchestra when artistic director (GMD) Kirill Petrenko and intendant Nikolaus Bachler will leave at the end of the season, to be replaced by the duo of Vladimir Jurowski (for the pit) and Serge Dorny (for the corner office overlooking Munich’s […]

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The Ammann Piano Concerto “Gran Toccata” Explored

Munich, Gasteig; January 9, 10, & 12, 2020—The Piano Concerto of Swiss composer Dieter Ammann was supposed to have been premiered at Vienna’s Konzerthaus with the Vienna Symphony. It wasn’t ready, however, and the concert last April (reviewed for ClassicsToday) featured Bartók’s Third, instead. The actual premiere had to wait for the BBC Proms, which, […]

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