Philip Hartmann: Invocazione brillante, Organ music by Carson Cooman

The lockdown could have stopped one-man organ machine Carson Cooman from composing, but it’s unlikely. He’s prolific and never stops. Normally we expect Erik Simmons to be playing Cooman’s work but for this it’s German organist Philip Hartmann, and he does a fine job. We used to find organ music hard going but repeated forced […]

Fitzwilliam String Quartet: Schubert String Quartets

Rock bands attempt authenticity by doing unplugged or acoustic sessions; classical players do it by going back to basics. For this recording of Schubert’s famous quartets, the Fitzwilliam String Quartet used gut strings, and quizzed experts about playing techniques of the time the works were composed (1824). Lucy Russell’s Ferdinando Gagliano violin from 1789 is […]

Justin Badgerow: Reminiscences of Brazil

This is an entertaining and varied programme of piano music. The Brazilian side gives the music life and a vivacity that’s a little unexpected but don’t expect it to sound very Latin American. It’s as much in the feel and passion as the rhythm. It’s robust, and powerfully played; there’s nothing of the polite salon […]

Jonathan Östlund: Voyages

We always thought that if the fairies — and they do exist —wanted someone to play a gig, they’d get Östlund. He writes music that’s not wishy-washy or fey (the fey being a less pleasant race than the fairies to boot) but is ethereal and creates the atmosphere of being half-formed, in the sense of […]

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 […]