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Alphabetical Listing


[Click here for the most recent reviews (last five days)]
Click for alphabetical listings by composer:
[Part 1 New] [Part 2 A-B] [Part 3 C-L]
[Part 4 M-R] [Part 5 S-Z]
[Part 6 Misc A-L] [Part 7 Misc M-Z]
[Recommended recordings]


Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Violin Concerto 3 Henri VIEUXTEMPS (1820-1881) Violin Concertos 4 & 5 Arthur Grumiaux (violin) Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux/Manuel Rosenthal rec. 1963/66 PHILIPS ELOQUENCE 4428561 [BW]

First-class performances of attractive music. With more than adequate recording, this bargain-price reissue should find a ready market ... see Full Review

Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828) Lieder Ian Bostridge (tenor), Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2000 EMI CLASSICS 50999 5 03424 2 6 [77:27][GF]

A beautifully executed recital, soft and restrained but with intensity … very much a matter of letting the music speak without unnecessary pointing of words ... see Full Review

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Concerto see MOZART

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Kerner-Lieder; Liederkreis op. 39 Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) rec. 1954-5 AUDITE 95.582 [62:25][CH]

Fischer-Dieskau is in a class of his own and these additional recordings take their place in history ... see Full Review

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Piano Concerto see TCHAIKOVSKY

Alexander Nikolayevich SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Piano Sonatas 2, 5 & 9 Four Mazurkas Yevgeny Sudbin rec. 2006 BIS SACD1568 [JL]

Fans of Scriabin will find this voluminous and rich sounding disc an essential addition … mind-alteringly sublime at best ... see Full Review

Peter SCULTHORPE (b. 1929) The Fifth Continent Tasmanian SO/David Porcelijn rec. 1996/7 ABC CLASSICS 476 5922 [DW]

This current superlative disc … offers a fascinating snapshot of Sculthorpe’s composing career, through both original and re-cycled music. The results are never less than attractively intriguing … see Full Review

Johan Peter SELMER (1844-1910) Carnival at Flanders; Prometheus see SVENDSEN

Fernando SOR (1778-1839) Etudes Nos. 1, 5, 6, 13, 17, 19 & 20; Grand Solo Op. 14 Mauro Giuseppe Sergio Pantaleo GIULIANI (1781-1829) Variazioni su un tema di Handel per Chitarra; Rossiniana No. 1 Roland Dyens (guitar) Quatuor Arthur-LeBlanc rec. 2006 ATMA ACD2 2397 [ZT]

All in all the creativity, musicianship and superb sonic qualities of this recording are to be admired … see Full Review

Louis SPOHR (1784-1859) Complete String Quartets Volume 12 String Quartets 33 & 35, Potpourri 1 Dima Quartet, Moscow rec. 2005/6 MARCO POLO 8.225316 [BW]

Music which is never less than attractive and often intense, in performances and recordings which narrowly fall short of the mark.  There are better ways to explore Spohr’s chamber music ... see Full Review

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Symphonies 4 & 7 Bournemouth SO/David Lloyd-Jones rec. 2006 NAXOS 8.570285 [JQ]

The Naxos Stanford cycle is launched auspiciously ... see Full Review

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Symphonies 2 & 5 Bournemouth SO/David Lloyd-Jones rec. 2006 NAXOS 8.570289 [JQ]

If you bought the earlier issue, do not hesitate to add this disc to your shelves ... see Full Review

Max STEINER (1888-1971) All This, and Heaven Too (1940) [44:51] A Stolen Life (1946) [26:11] Score restoration by John Morgan Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/William Stromberg rec. Mosfilm Studios, Moscow, February-March 2002 NAXOS FILM CLASSICS 8.570184 [71:08] [JW]

Standards strongly maintained– giving a budget price injection to a notably well curated series. ... see Full Review

Max STEINER (1888-1971) The Son of Kong (1933) (45:28) The Most Dangerous Game (1932) (31:49) Moscow Symphony Orchestra/William Stromberg rec. Mosfilm Studio, Moscow, April 2000 NAXOS 8.570183 [77:20] [IL]

Reminds us of Steiner’s pedigree, Vaudeville and Broadway before Hollywood. ... see Full Review

Max STEINER (1888-1971) The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) Score restoration by John Morgan Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/William Stromberg rec. Mosfilm Studios, Moscow, October 1999 NAXOS FILM CLASSICS 8.570185 [60:17] [JW]

Consistently enjoyable and exciting, glistens with personal touches ... see Full Review

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Also sprach Zarathustra; Don Juan; Der Rosenkavalier Suite Radio Filharmonisch Orkest Holland/Edo de Waart rec. 2005 EXTON OVCL 00218 [75:58][DM]

A very disappointing disc indeed. ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Richard STRAUSS (1864–1949) Songs of Love and Death Hedwig Fassbender (mezzo), Hilko Dumno (piano) rec. 2006 NAXOS 8.570297 [GF]

The best Strauss recital I have heard for many a moon ... see Full Review

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) (1911-13) [34:21] Symphony in Three Movements (1942-45) [22:31] Bamberger Symphoniker/Jonathan Nott rec. Sinfonie an der Regnitz, Joseph-Keilberth Saal, Bamberg, Germany, 2-3 February 2006 (Le Sacre) and 19-20 January 2005 (Symphony). DDD. TUDOR 7145 SACD [56:54] [LW]

From the very beginning of Nott’s Rite you know you are in for something rather special ... see Full Review

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882–1971) The Rake’s Progress Hilde Güden, Blanche Thebom, Eugene Conley, Metropolitan Opera Ch& O/Igor Stravinsky rec. 1953 NAXOS 8.111266-67 [GF]

A special frisson about this first studio recording with a splendid American cast and the imprimatur of the composer conducting ... see Full Review

Johan Severin SVENDSEN (1840-1911) Sigurd Slembe; Zorahayda Johan Peter SELMER (1844-1910) Carnival at Flanders; Prometheus Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra/Michail Jurowski rec. 2003 SIMAX PSC1233 [76:33][KS]

A refreshing collection of unusual music, all of which is pleasant and some of which is certain to creep into the top ten of some listeners. ... see Full Review

Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Fantasia, Masques, Harnasie Andrzej Tatarski, Joanna Domańska (pianos) rec. 1992/2007 DUX 0576 [DM]

A useful introduction to Szymanowski’s less familiar pieces ... see Full Review

Sergey Ivanovich TANEYEV (1856–1915) Complete String Quartets: Vol. 1 Quartet No. 1; Quartet No. 3 Carpe Diem String Quartet rec. 2006 NAXOS 8.570437 [61:39][MC]

With assured playing and impressive unity from the Carpe Diem this disc is a valuable addition to the expanding discography of this still underrated composer... see Full Review

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Piano Concerto No. 1 Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Piano Concerto Nikolai Demidenko (piano); BBC Symphony Orchestra/Alexander Lazarev rec. 1993 HYPERION HELIOS CDH55304 [65:16][DC]

Can cure you of the need to seek out any other versions ... see Full Review

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Swan Lake Mariinsky Theatre O/Valery Gergiev rec. 2006 DECCA 4757669 (Highlights disc 4759080) [TH]

The competition is too fierce for any sort of unqualified recommendation ... see Full Review

Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 5 Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Khovanschina: Act IV Prelude Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun Stuttgart & Frankfurt RSO/Leopold Stokowski rec. 1955 GUILD GHCD2329 [KS]

Splendid, arduous and muscular readings of these masterworks from one of history’s greatest sound painters ... see Full Review

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 6, Violin Concerto David Oistrakh, Philharmonia O, Stockholm Festival O/ Paul Kletzki rec. 1955/60 MEDICI MM018-2 [JW]

Testament to Kletzki’s under-sung symphonic eloquence ... see Full Review

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Twelve Fantasias for solo violin; Violin Concertos: in E major TWV 51:E2; in B flat major (apocryphal – J.L.Horn?, 1740?); in G major TWV 51:G7; in D major TWV 51:D10; in G minor TWV 51:g1 Arthur Grumiaux (violin, fantasias) Iona Brown (violin, concertos) Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields/Iona Brown rec. 1970 (Fantasias) & 1983 (Concertos) PHILIPS ELOQUENCE 4428291 [63:20 + 51:01][JL]

Almost lush … Iona Brown soars above it all … Chicken Soup for the Baroque Soul. ... see Full Review

Virgil THOMSON (1896-1989) The Plow That Broke the Plains; The River Post-Classical Ensemble/Angel Gil-Ordóñez rec. 2005 NAXOS 8.559291 [55:43][BBr]

Superbly played … music that is delightful, entertaining, elegant … a valuable addition to our knowledge of Virgil Thomson’s graceful art. ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Michael TIPPETT (1905-1998) Piano Concerto, Fantasia on a theme of Handel, Piano Sonatas 1-4 Steven Osborne, BBC Scottish SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2006/7 HYPERION CDA67461/2 [DC]

If this were a desert island choice, it would be Osborne I would want to have. ... see Full Review

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872–1958) Fantasia on Christmas Carols, Hodie Stephen Gadd, Guildford Choral Society, Royal PO/Hilary Davan Wetton rec. 2007 NAXOS 8.570439 [MM-B]

Not your usual Christmas offering … the performances are distinctive and good ... see Full Review

Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901) Rigoletto Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma/Francesco Molinari-Pradelli rec. 1967 CLASSICS FOR PLEASURE 3932822 [54:38 + 61:20][GF]

Not without merits with Gedda’s ardent Duke of Mantua its finest asset but MacNeil’s Rigoletto is also deeply involved, albeit too coarse ... see Full Review

Henri VIEUXTEMPS (1820-1881) Violin Concertos 4 & 5 see SAINT-SAËNS

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Concerti for Viola d’amore Europa Galante, Fabio Biondi (viola d’amore; director) rec. 2004/6 VIRGIN CLASSICS 3951462 [MS]

A welcome collection of eight delicate yet robust concerti da camera by Vivaldi using the sweetly rich viola d’amore and played with feeling and style, appropriate intensity and suitable sensitivity ... see Full Review

Richard WAGNER (1813–1883) Götterdämmerung Timothy Mussard, Lisa Gasteen, State Opera of South Australia Ch, Adelaide SO/Asher Fisch rec. live 2004 MELBA MR 301099-102 [ [GF]

Of the four Götterdämmerung from the 21st century that have come my way each and every one has good things to offer but Asher Fisch and his Adelaide forces definitely carry off the palm. Adelaide can be proud! ... see Full Review

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod see TCHAIKOVSKY

Franz WAXMAN (1906-1967) Objective, Burma! (restoration by John Morgan) (1945) [71:38] Moscow Symphony Orchestra/William Stromberg rec. October 1999, Mosfilm Studio, Moscow. DDD re-issue of Marco Polo 8.225148 NAXOS 8.557706 [71:38] [BBr]

Another success for Naxos in its Film Music Classics series ... see Full Review

Carl Maria Von WEBER (1786-1826) Konzertstück Op.79; Piano Sonata No.1 see BEETHOVEN

Silvius Leopold WEISS (1686-1750) Concerto in C major for two lutes; Suite in D minor; Sarabande in F major; Ciaconna in F major; Suite in B major; Sarabande in D minor; Gigue in D minor; Suite in F major; Suite in D minor; Bernhard Hofstötter, Dolores Costoya (lutes) rec. 2006 ATMA ACD22538 [74:39][GPu]

A fine, subtle performance of fine, subtle music, most of it recently discovered and some of it recorded for the first time here … see Full Review

Malcolm WILLIAMSON (1931-2003) Overture 'Santiago de Espada', Symphony 1 'Elevamini', Sinfonia Concertante, Piano Sonata 2 Martin Jones, composer (piano), Royal Liverpool PO/Sir Charles Groves rec. 1971/6 LYRITA SRCD281 [EMc]

Something of a revelation … a composer whose reputation as a purveyor only of shallow trifles is undeserved ... see Full Review

Judith Lang ZAIMONT (b.1945) Bubble-Up Rag; Reflective Rag; Reflective Rag; Judy’s Rag; Lazy Beguine; Hesitation Rag; Snazzy Sonata: An Entertainment for Two; Reflective Rag; Serenade; Various artists & Judith L. Zaimont (piano) MSR MS1238 [57:35][GPu]

A classical musician draws on the traditions of the rag in a variety of ways – but the results all communicate her genuine joy in one of her ‘native’ musics. Subtle and pleasurable extensions of the tradition … see Full Review


[Click here for the most recent reviews (last five days)]
Click for alphabetical listings by composer:
[Part 1 New] [Part 2 A-B] [Part 3 C-L]
[Part 4 M-R] [Part 5 S-Z]
[Part 6 Misc A-L] [Part 7 Misc M-Z]
[Recommended recordings]

Over a period of three years from December 2003, I have spent a lot of time in the company of Harry Partch – not literally, of course, as he died in 1974, but working my way though an article and some eight reviews that can all be found on MusicWeb. Then, at the MusicWeb annual lunch (January 2007), the name of John Cage caught my ear. For reasons that my subconscious was not prepared to divulge, my curiosity was tickled. Partch and Cage have on occasion been paired off, as a sort of American "Debussy and Ravel" – was there any real connection between them?

This may come as a bit of an anticlimax but, other than them both being American originals with "far-out" ideas, I can’t really think of one. In fact, they are more on the lines of diametric opposites: with my tongue ever-so-slightly in my cheek, I could say that Partch was a seminal genius who got branded as a crackpot, and Cage was a crackpot who got branded as a seminal genius.

John Cage (1912-92) was nothing if not controversial. With his rise to prominence, an obliging World split into two opposing camps. His supporters saw him as a prime mover in the fields of experimental and electronic music, with abiding interests in "chance music", new ways of using traditional instruments, and practical application of his Zen Buddhist beliefs.

His detractors, the more radical of whom would have preferred the "nothing" option, complained that he just made a lot of silly noise, did unspeakable things to the private parts of otherwise perfectly respectable musical instruments, and came up with a load of airy-fairy claptrap to justify his bizarre buffoonery.

Partch, who was renowned for his considered and candid conclusions, didn’t have too high an opinion of Cage: "When he was younger, I found him rather charming, albeit shallow. Then later, when he was famed for the opening of doors to musical insight, I found myself obliged to use the word ‘charlatan’ . . . Pretty sounds do not necessarily make significant music, and serious words frequently cloak hokum . . . I’m all for common sounds as valid materials [but] one has to have control, so that his common sounds will mean something. . . I feel that anyone who brackets me with Cage is bracketing actual music with metaphysical theories, and what I think is a serious effort with exhibitionism." [Letter to Ben Johnston, 1952, reproduced in Innova Enclosure 3]

Who is right – the "pro" camp or the "anti"? You tell me. The only opinions I can voice with any certainty are that Cage was not really a crackpot – even if he did give that impression to his detractors – and in all probability he caused the expenditure of as much hot air as all the other Twentieth Century composers put together.

For instance, during the late 1960s, when I was a university student, Cage was a hot topic for many an informal debate over a pint or six of a Saturday night in the pub. It’s true, I swe

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