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 […]

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 […]

Eitenne Cutajar: Mdina Music For Horn

This is a new recording of (as the name suggests) music for horn by Etienne Cutajar, featuring violinist Carmine Lauri and pianist John Reid. The music comes from Beethoven, Brahms and Richard Strauss as well as modern composers Heinz Holliger, Jesmond Grixti and Jörg Widman; the work Mdina is by Grixti. Cutajar is principal horn […]

Mariko Terashi: Piano

We perhaps were not expecting too much from a Japanese pianist playing a Portuguese (Carlos de Seixas) composer, never having heard of either, but that just shows you should never judge. José António Carlos de Seixas (1704–1742) is described as a composer during the “golden age” of Portugal, an accomplished virtuoso of both the organ […]

Carson Cooman: Owl Night

We’d like to be the first to compare organ music with Phil Collins. This latest in the never-ending series of CDs by Cooman and/or Erik Simmons (who plays) is the one we like best thus far. Organ music can be a little formal or even ponderous, and there’s that whole echoey in a church thing […]

Vyacheslav Artyomov: The Way to Olympus

Artyomov is a modern composer from Russia writing with the ambition and scope of a man who knows his work is important. From what we read, his life in Russia has been hard, so perhaps a belief in your own standing in the history of music is crucial. He writes big, ambitious tunes; listening to […]

Michael Alec: Rose Il Ritorno

This rather wonderful CD is an impressionist description of landscape using only violin and viola; perhaps not the most promising of descriptions but it is engrossing and draws in the listener. The sleeve notes are fun to read and help with the listening. Michael Alec Rose is (apparently) a leading light in the contemporary music […]

Madeleine Mitchell: Violin Muse

This CD demonstrates the violin at its most bleak/stark/purest; take your pick. Even Atlantic Drift, which opens with the sound of a lively folk song, is sparse and with an edge. This is not a criticism, just to say the album is mostly not warm or romantic, just dry and slightly melancholy; more a funeral […]

Barbara Karaskiewicz Karol Szymanowski: Piano Music

This is a nice autumn CD of piano music; the fact that it’s outstanding music played well, we’ll take as a given. Szymanowski is described in the sleeve notes as one of the most important Polish composers of the 20th century. The sleeve notes are extensive and well written, but the relevant information for those […]

Alfonso Soldano: Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Piano Music

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968) was Italian, and one of the foremost guitar composers in the 20th century. In 1939 he went to the US and became a composer for MGM Studios, working on some 200 Hollywood films. He was an influence on other film composers, including Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle and André Previn, and Jerry Goldsmith […]