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.

Monday, March 7, 2016

It's Very Chess-Like


For half a second after I saw this album, I was tempted to do the review straight, without any reference to the cover. Who was I kidding? Pointing out how bad the - what is it exactly, a pun? - how bad the pun in the title is, plus the awkward body language and the odd expression on the pianist's face? It cries out for inclusion in the awesome Greatest Classical CD Covers EVER? series that began back in 2007, in the Silver Age of the Internet, at the Too Many Tristans blog. Better yet, it gives me the chance to give a shout-out to that great sitcom with a terrible name, Cougar Town!

Anyway, it's a terrible/great cover, but/and it's a pretty good album. With not only stylish, articulate, historically-informed piano playing, but a sense of the fun that the original composers from 17th and 18th century France had to have to survive in that odd musical hothouse of absolutism and ingenuity. It also places Bach in his proper International Style context, a sophisticate who kept up with Italian and French musicians on Twitter and Instagram, rather than a dour Lutheran hack who looked only to his congregation, his betters and God. Schlosberg's Bach I would place in the Andras Schiff camp rather than the Glenn Gould one; it's measured and well-shaped, rather than brittle or faux-pompous. But he gives free reign to Gouldian eccentricity in his two pieces for prepared piano: Schlosberg's very clever arrangement of Marin Marais's Le Badinage, which has the sound and the shape of a Japanese song on the koto; and a surprisingly harpsichord-sounding version of a Francois Couperin Tambourin, played by Schlosberg as if he were sitting down at an actual harpsichord. How exactly did he get a piano to sound like that? Perhaps he put clothespins on the strings like we used to do on the spokes of our bicycles when we were kids.

So there's my review. Now lets play some Penny Can!

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