Disc and Stream

Critics’ Choice: Video Treasures Historic And Novel

DIGITAL REVIEW – From concert broadcasts at the mid-century's cutting edge to musical bio-pics and fledgling livestream efforts by today's entrepreneurs (of necessity), the internet remains a source of discovery for our critics.

The Nativity, Told From An African-American Vantage

DIGITAL REVIEW – In a 1954 cantata with text by Langston Hughes, composer Margaret Bonds mined many colors of the black experience. Why isn’t she better known, and what other treasures would we find if we bothered to look?

Bits, Pieces Culled From Shostakovich Made Whole Cloth

DIGITAL REVIEW – Mark Fitz-Gerald has been unearthing and reconstructing lost or forgotten Shostakovich scores. It's surprising that his latest find, music for Vladimir Mayakovsky's comedy The Bedbug, isn't better known.

Music Of Nørgård Doubly Rewarding In Symphony Disc

DIGITAL REVIEW – If the brooding lyricism of Per Nørgård's Symphony No. 1 shows the Danish composer under Sibelius' spell, the Symphony No. 8 reveals a contrasting light heart in its welcome first recording.

Levit’s Beethoven: At Blazing Speed, Blistered Sonatas

DIGITAL REVIEW – Igor Levit's now complete nine-CD cycle of the 32 sonatas, begun with the late sonatas six years ago when the pianist was only 26, displays astonishing technical skill but often feels short on flexibility and drama.

Music Of Spheres: Kronos’ ‘Sun Rings’ Gets Sound Prize

DIGITAL – The Kronos Quartet's Nonesuch CD Terry Riley: Sun Rings won a 2020 Grammy for sound by Leslie Ann Jones, who captured what violinist David Harrington calls "the hugeness, intricacy, and beauty of nature."

Chadwick-Trained, Dvořák-Inspired, Price Rises Again

DIGITAL REVIEW – Florence Price penned more than 300 works, although her Second Symphony has not survived and her Fourth, from 1945, went unpublished. A new CD reveals, in the latter, Price's lasting love of the Juba dance.

Two Mahler Sixes Trace Shift From Hare To Tortoise

DIGITAL REVIEW – As a memorial to conductor Michael Gielen, the SWR Symphony has released two performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 that couldn’t be more different – 42 years and twenty minutes apart.

Utah SO, Fischer Take On Prokofiev In Blockbuster CD

DIGITAL REVIEW – Thierry Fischer leads the Utah Symphony in a potent sonic mix of Alexander Nevsky, the concert cantata that Prokofiev made from his great film score, and the suite from another film track, Lieutenant Kijé.

Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto: Beyond Category

DIGITAL REVIEW – The versatile Marsalis' layered and sophisticated work, heard in a CD by soloist Nicola Benedetti and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Cristian Măcelaru, weaves jazz threads into the very heart of the piece.

Madrigal Master Cipriano de Rore Celebrated On CD

DIGITAL REVIEW – Blue Heron's latest CD set, of Cipriano madrigals in five parts, comes with a wealth of scholarly notes that help the listener understand the challenges of producing its mellifluous polyphonic results.

China Ascending: The Shanghai SO Shines In ‘Gateways’

DIGITAL REVIEW – The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra marks its 140th anniversary with world-class performances under Long Yu in its latest recording. Maxim Vengerov is the excellent soloist in a concerto by Qigang Chen.

From Third Coast, Percussion Aplenty With Glass In Mix

DIGITAL REVIEW – From out of Chicago, Third Coast Percussion weighs in with a potent double disc release, including Perpetulum, a fresh new work by the octogenarian Philip Glass that opens in an atypical Varèse-like groove.

High-Def Scrutiny Magnifies Power Of Assault Opera

DIGITAL REVIEW – Newly available for download, the opera p r i s m, created by composer Ellen Reid and librettist Roxie Perkins, brilliantly explores the trauma of sexual assault through a blend of music and metaphor.

Violins Of Hope Given New Music To Lift Their Voice

DIGITAL REVIEW – The Tel Aviv based collection of Holocaust violins has traveled widely in recent years. For Tennessee, the visit sparked a commission of new music by Jonathan Leshnoff making use of the restored instruments.

Busoni Concerto Is Handful; Gerstein Gives You Paws

DIGITAL REVIEW – In piano concerto land, Busoni’s contribution is a shrine to extravagance that summarizes the Romantic piano era before World War I shook everything up. Kirill Gerstein's recording is perhaps the best yet.

Muti, Chicagoans Dull The Edges In Italian Opera CD

DIGITAL REVIEW – A mixed program of works by Verdi, Boito, Mascagni and Puccini is conducted by Riccardo Muti and performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus with authority and precision, but little else.

To Finish Or Not? Bruckner’s Ninth Gets New Readings

DIGITAL REVIEW – There is no doubt that Bruckner intended to add a finale to his last symphony, but the sketches that remain are not easily translated. In two new CDs, one conductor passes, another makes a hearty try.

Weinberg’s Potent Symphony No. 21 Given Bold Etching

By Paul E. Robinson
DIGITAL REVIEW - Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla leads the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Kremerata Baltica, and violinist Gidon Kremer in a superlative performance of Mieczyslaw Weinberg's eloquent 'Kaddish' Symphony.

BSO Shostakovich Cycle Continues: Nelsons Adds 6 & 7

By Richard S. Ginell
DIGITAL REVIEW – The Boston Symphony did not have much of a Shostakovich tradition historically on disc. But both the BSO and DG are catching up in a hurry as Andris Nelsons’ explores middle works in the canon.
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