• Romancing the Viola – Haken performs his works

    This is a great time for classical music. It’s not only post-tonal, but it’s post-atonal as well. Composers don’t have to worry about sounding new-fangled or old-fashioned. They just have to create music that’s worth listening to. That thought came to me as I listened to this recording. Rudolf Haken’s musical language is just a […]

  • Bernard Cuiller plays William Byrd

    Pescodd Time is part of Alpha Classic’s ongoing reissue series of significant early music recordings. The disc was the first recorded by harpsichordist and conductor Bertrand Cuiller and showcases his love of English renaissance music — particularly that of William Byrd. I don’t have the original release, so I can’t say if it’s been remastered. […]

  • Rebel Takes Goldberg Beyond the Variations

    There here are two things I can count on with a Rebel release. First, it won’t be the usual early music fare. Second, it will have performances that command my attention. “Johann Gottlieb Goldberg: Beyond the Variations” runs true to form. There’s a story behind that title. Johann Gottlieb Goldberg is indeed the Goldberg of […]

  • Barbara Harbach: Chamber Music V continues find series

    For me, the two works on this collection of Barbara Harbach’s chamber music I most enjoyed were the longest and the shortest. The longest was “The Birth, Life, and Death of Christ” for chamber orchestra. It was written as a musical accompaniment to Alice Guy’s 1906 silent film of the same name. The movie is a […]

  • Atterberg symphonies romantic and visionary

    The fifth and final installment of Neeme Järvi’s traversal of Kurt Atterberg symphonies is out. And it presents two works that stand in stark contrast. Atterberg’s 1942 “Sinfonia romantica,” is sunny, lyrical, and light-hearted, while the “Sinfonia visionaria” is a thickly-textured study of Nordic gloom. Atterberg’s Symphony No. 7 was written in reaction to what […]

  • Carols of Martin Luther — Serene sounds of the season

    To me, renaissance Christmas carols have a certain serenity about them. Perhaps it’s the softness of the instruments, such as the lute, recorder, and virginal. All I know is that in a season where emotions are often whipped up to a fever pitch, they help me stay centered much better than “Frosty” or even “Joy […]

  • Ralph Vaughan Williams: Discoveries

    Ralph Vaughan Williams is one of my favorite composers. For me, then, Discoveries is a delight — and an aptly named one. The works on this album all emerge from the obscure corners of Vaughan Williams’ catalog. Though there’s very little “pure” RVW here (almost every work is either an arrangement or orchestration), it all […]

  • James Whitbourn – Carolae refreshes old favorites

    I usually don’t like choral works that try to incorporate traditional Christmas carols. My issue is that the original tune usually sounds like it’s been shoehorned into a setting without becoming a part of it. Not so with James Whitbourn’s “Missa Carolae.” Yes, the recognizable tunes are there — “Patapan,” “God rest ye merry gentlemen,” […]

  • Quinney delivers imaginative, beautiful performances

    Robert Quinney and the Choir of New College Oxford build on the success of their release, “John Blow: Symphony Anthems.” While this is indeed a collection of seasonal music, the selections are more varied in style and show just how capable this choir and director are. Traditional favorites such as Praetorius’ “In dulci jubilo” and […]