Latest Music Reviews

Bach On Cruise Control

by Jed Distler


Before auditioning Annhelena Schlüter’s recording of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, I did a Google search on her, out of curiosity. It turns out that she’s a singer/songwriter, and an improviser as well. Her pop style is pleasant though derivative, and would not be out... Continue Reading

Songs By Pavel Haas

by David Vernier


In May, 1944, in the Terezín concentration camp (the infamous garrison town north of Prague where, among the many thousands, numerous important Czech musicians were imprisoned during 1941-44), the young bass Karel Berman was preparing a recital. Along with songs by Beethoven, Dvorák, and Wolf,... Continue Reading

CD From Hell: Karajan’s Choral Music Box

by David Hurwitz


If you think that songs like “Dropkick Me Jesus Through the Goalposts of Life” represent sincere expressions of religious sentiment, then you’ll surely respond to Karajan’s handling of the choral music in this set. Indeed, calling it “choral music” may be technically correct, but what... Continue Reading

Davis’ Ives Vol. 2: Good Work

by David Hurwitz


This well-filled disc contains excellent performances of some of Ives most popular and significant works. It’s easy to understand why the “Holidays” Symphony has enjoyed greater success as four individual tone poems. With the exception of Thanksgiving, the three other movements (as well as Central... Continue Reading

Bach By Blechacz

by Jed Distler


Rafal Blechacz’s Deutsche Grammophon releases have yielded mixed results, ranging from a superb Haydn/Mozart/Beethoven recital to his crude and calculated Chopin Polonaises. The pianist’s first all-Bach outing for the label proves similarly inconsistent, although its finest moments are keepers. Using minimum pedal, Blechacz serves up... Continue Reading

Gillian Keith’s Respectable German Arias

by David Vernier


In 1985 there was Emma Kirkby and London Baroque; in 2000 there was Dorothea Röschmann and the Akademie für Alte Musik; and now we have Canadian soprano Gillian Keith and Florilegium. Others have also performed and recorded Handel’s Nine German Arias, but these three represent... Continue Reading

Sublime Sounds From A Sacred Space

by David Vernier


When you listen to 200-300 new recordings of choral music every year, 90 percent of them sacred programs, you figure you’ve heard enough of these things to know what to expect from a given composer, choir, conductor, and record label. And then, something like this... Continue Reading

Tiberghien’s Bartók Concludes Impressively

by David Hurwitz


Cédric Tiberghien’s fine Bartók piano music cycle for Hyperion faces the stiffest possible competition from Zoltan Kocsis on Philips (now Decca, I guess), and there are some works in which the late Hungarian pianist is almost impossible to beat. I am thinking especially of the... Continue Reading

Chile’s Enrique Soro: Local Talent

by David Hurwitz


Enrique Soro (1884-1954) may have been Chile’s first major composer of “classical” music, but he was a decidedly local talent. His music is attractive and well-wrought, but also derivative and lacking memorability. The short works sound best. Danza fantástica and Andante appassionato both date from... Continue Reading

Prokofiev-Lite from Karabits

by David Hurwitz


Here we have yet another underwhelming Prokofiev Fifth, a symphony that seems to suffer from more mediocre performances than just about any other. Part of the problem must stem from the fact that the music is so direct, and so effectively scored, that it promises... Continue Reading

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