Browsing: CD and Book Reviews

TORONTO, May 14, 2022 /CNW/ – For the first time in three years, The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) honoured artists and industry leaders at the helm of Canada’s music scene tonight at the 2022 JUNO Opening Night Awards Presented by Ontario Creates. Co-hosted by Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe (CBC Music’s The Block ) and Ann Pornel (The Great Canadian Baking Show), the festivities took place in person at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where 41 JUNO Awards were presented. Winners in Classical Music categories: CLASSICAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR (SOLO ARTIST): enargeia Emily D’Angelo Deutsche Grammophon*Universal CLASSICAL ALBUM…

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Just how much we miss Mariss Jansons is manifest in this Munich concert of three sacred works. Jansons, who died in November 2019, aged 76, was not principally noted for religiosity or choral masterpieces, but his shaping of this triptych is so masterful that one can hardly imagine them presentled with greater coherence or sincerity. Arvo Pärt’s Berlin Mass, composed in 1990 for the city’s reunification, is a five part setting of the Roman Catholic service in an idiom that is, at once, respectful of traditional sonority and, at the same time, pushing gently to a minimal modernism that is…

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Sweden, unlike its neighbours, has no great composer. Norway has Grieg, Finland Sibelius, Denmark Nielsen and Sweden – blank. The one composer who might have filled the role was treated with such disdain by polite society that he lived all his life in grim poverty, never able to afford a piano. Allan Pettersson died aged 68 in 1980, leaving 17 symphonies that are still being slowly discovered. Although the government granted him a lifelong pension in his 50s, the Stockholm Philharmonic banned his music ‘for all time’ after a dispute over touring. Pettersson was working-class and dirt-poor. Sweden did not…

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The record industry never makes the fuss about a Sibelius cycle that it does with Beethoven and Mahler. Not sure why not. Maybe Sibelius sells less, or Finns are shy. Or past sets by the likes of Colin Davis, Neeme Järvi and Herbert Blomstedt failed to get the suits excited. The new set from young Finn wizz Klaus Mäkelä comes accompanied by exceptional hype from Decca, always a strong Sibelius label. The conductor’s promise is incontestable. At 26, he is chief of the Oslo Philharmonic and the Orchestre de Paris, and hotly tipped to succeed in Chicago or New York. So…

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Four vital traditions inform this recording, the first in a planned cycle by the Czech Philharmonic and its Russian-Jewish chief conductor Semyon Bychkov. Mahler grew up in Czech countryside, in a Jewish family that spoke Yiddish and German. The Czech Philharmonic gave the world premiere of his seventh symphony and keeps scores with Mahler’s markings in its archive, where I have studied them. Mahler twice visited St Petersburg where he had cousins, fostering an empathy with his music that feeds audibly into the symphonies of Dmitri Shostakovich and into Bychkov’s personal upbringing. All four of these streams inform his interpretation,…

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Lyrita: **** CPO: *** A Times obituary this week for Joseph Horovitz reckons that he could not decide if he was a composer of serious or light music. The same could be said of most of his contemporaries. An unexpected album of mid-century piano concertos delivers a prawn cocktail of exceptionally competent music without much by way of intellectual nutrients. The film composer John Addison wrote a jolly Wellington Suite for his old public school. Arthur Benjamin’s Concertino is a British Rhapsody in Blue – and rather good, too, as is Elizabeth Maconchy’s, pitched in a Hindemith or Martinu mode.…

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Why, people have been asking for about 120 years, is Rachmaninov so popular? The music is morbid to miserable, the melodies are unhummable and mere finger virtuosity does not explain the infallible and inexhaustible attraction. Rachmaninov remains a frontline bestseller. What does he have that Scriabin, say, lacks? We ask the questions (as they say in war films); don’t look for instant answers. But a new release by the introspective Scottish pianist Steven Osborne has set me thinking hard about the hidden irresistibility of the first piano sonata and the shameless populism of the Moments Musicaux. The sonata, dated…

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Mistress Moon: Canadian Edition Jennifer King, piano Leaf music, 2022 Jennifer King loves to introduce us to Canadian gems. For her latest project, she has chosen solo piano works by eight Canadian composers including Kevin Lau, Sandy Moore, Richard Gibson, Amy Brandon and Jean Coulthard. These names may not mean much to you yet, but here the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As its name suggests, Mistress Moon takes as its theme the moon, the starry night and the space beyond. It invites us to rethink our relationship with nature, to rediscover a form of ancestral…

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Leon Fleisher Live Vol. 1. Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 (Boston Symphony/Pierre Monteux, July 20, 1958). Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 (Boston Symphony/Pierre Monteux, Aug 11, 1962). Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23 (Musica Aeterna Orchestra/Frederic Waldman, Nov 23, 1964). Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 25 (Berlin Philharmonic/George Szell, Aug 3, 1957). DOREMI DHR-8158/9 (2 CDs) Leon Fleisher Live Vol. 2 Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 (Concertgebouw Orchestra/Pierre Monteux, May 14, 1962). Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23 (Los Angeles Philharmonic/Bruno Walter, June 12, 1949.) DOREMI DHR-8160. These new releases constitute an absolute treasure trove of live performances by the late American pianist…

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Three Little Stories by Hans Christian Andersen Jan Järvlepp, composer, Rob Dean, storyteller; Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, Stanislav Vavřínek, conductor. Navona Records, 2022 We know Andersen’s tales of The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen. But do you also know The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Little Match Girl and The Emperor’s New Clothes? Navona Records offers us these three tales in a narration by Rob Dean and a musical setting by Jan Järvlepp. It goes without saying that the album is aimed first and foremost at children who like to be scared. Whether it’s the soldier, the girl…

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