Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Beauty with a backbone

June 20, 2013:


I haven't been bowled over by the last two Leonard Slatkin discs I've reviewed. I found his Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique somewhat over-refined, and he seemed disengaged in his view of Ravel: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1. But he finds the mark in this new CD of Rachmaninov's Third Symphony. A certain amount of reserve is an advantage in a work that can seem over-ripe and flacid when the conductor is too self-indulgent. Slatkin finds the back-bone in this highly romantic music, and he has the tools to produce a thrilling reading of the piece. Those tools include a rich string sound and strong brass from the Detroit players, and a vivid and absolutely lifelike sound from the Naxos engineers. With a similarly taut, lively and intelligent reading of the Symphonic Dances included, this disc is a real winner. It might even win some new fans for a composer whose reputation in this century seems lower than it was in the last.

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