Fini Henriques: Piano Pieces

Listening to this rather delightful CD we thought it resembled a sampler of piano pieces for amateurs to play along to, and learn; not novices, but neither the highly advanced. When we read the sleeve notes, they report that, of Henriques’ works for piano, the majority can be divided into music for children and music […]

Diana Boyle … plays JS Bach

This album of gentle piano music has a definite meditative quality to it. This is probably because of how Boyle prepares for one of her (reportedly infrequent) recordings, which involves going away to the top of a hill and thinking for years. The sleeve notes say she has been doing this for 25 years; she […]

Dmitrii Khrychev, Olga Solovieva: 19th century cello and piano music

It’s a pretty self-explanatory title for this new release that features various composers, including Tchaikovsky, Arensky and Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov. The sleeve notes say that cello music flourished in Russia in the 19th century, with Tchaikovsky central to things and his Variations on a Rococo Theme opens, heard here in the composer’s version for cello […]

Tatiana Primak-Khoury: Lebanese Piano Music 2

We weren’t sure what this would sound like: Arabic? Jewish (unlikely, admittedly)? Persian? None of these, it’s very European and could be a couple of centuries old, and not — in the case of one piece — three years. Piano Sonata No 4 (1963) opens and is from Anis Fuleihan. He was director of the […]

Mak Grgic: Balkanisms

Solo classical guitar albums are not our favourite bag but this one looked like it might be better than average and so it is. The Balkans are famed for their folk music, noted for complex rhythms; you normally hear it in electric “gypsy” folk or punk bands. While the album consists of Mr Grgic noodling […]

Cuatra Puntos: Jaipur to Cairo

There’s world music and there’s world music: from Paul Simon’s world-tinged pop to Plant/Page roping in ethnic musicians to make polished albums or Tinariwen using western instruments for traditional songs. Then there are musicians from wherever playing traditional instruments. We’re fond of gnawa from Morocco, two-string guitars (that means real string) and qaraqueb — metal […]

Jon Deak: Symphonic Tales

This entertaining album stands repeated listens; Deak is a man who clearly enjoys his music. He is the young composers advocate of the New York Philharmonic, where he founded the award-winning Very Young Composers Program in 1995. His interest in making music accessible to younger listeners is clear. Two of the works are for full […]

Galina Ustvolskaya: Complete works for Violin and Piano

Dutch critic Elmer Schönberger called Galina Ustvolskaya “the lady with the hammer”, not because she whacked the piano with ham-like fists but because she composed using unusual combinations of instruments, and often used piano or percussion to beat out regular rhythms. She was a pupil of Shostakovich, who commented (according to Wikipedia): “I am convinced […]

Boieldieu: Piano Concertos, Six Overtures

Adrien Boieldieu numbers among the most important exponents of the opéra comique of the French imperial era and the subsequent restoration. From 1803 to 1811 he was the court music director in St Petersburg, and in 1817 he became a professor of composition at the Paris Conservatory. This programme of works is — as the […]

Wolfgang Rihm: Music for Violin and Orchestra — Volume 2

Wolfgang Rihm is big in German music (and still alive, only 67) but is not well known over here, despite having written 400 works. This is modern music, but not terribly difficult to listen to. You do have to listen; it’s not really music to have on in the background. Based on these three works, […]