CD Review: Martha Argerich pours out life force in 2011 summer festival album

For 11 straight years, pianist Martha Argerich has assembled her personal dream team of musicians for a festival in Switzerland — captured in an album of highlights.

MARTHA ARGERICH AND FRIENDS
Live from Lugano 201 (EMI Classics)

A half-century of musicmaking seems only to have been a warmup for Argentinean pianist Martha Argerich, who continues to wow with the immediacy and love she pours into every note she plays. There is life force in everything she touches. Continue reading

Advertisements

Two CD releases show off the art of composer Camille Saint-Saëns

Camille Saint-Saëns in his element — on a steamship.

Repeat something enough times with conviction, and people start to believe it, whether it has to do with politics, economics or art.

French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, who bridged the Romantic and Modern eras thanks to an 86-year lifespan, was treated as a relic of a bygone age by his obituarists and university lecturers.

It’s a status that does not square with a legacy of rich craft he left behind, and which deserves a fresh look and listen now that we can have some perspective on the aesthetic steamroller of Modernism. Continue reading

Introducing: The Sea, a suite for orchestra by Frank Bridge

Frank Bridge completed The Sea at Eastbourne, on the Sussex coast, in July 1911.

Spend a couple of weeks near a large body of water and you’ll likely witness the seductive shimmer of water on a calm sunny day transform into a roiling, heaving monster in a matter of minutes. Anyone whose ankles have ever been suddenly lassoed by an undertow knows that water is a treacherous vacation partner. Continue reading

DVD review: Renée Fleming and Christian Thielemann a great Richard Strauss match

Renée Fleming sang Strauss Lieder in Salzburg a year ago, accompanied by conductor Christian Thielemann and the Vienna Philharmonic.

Exactly one year ago, Renée Fleming sang an all-Strauss programme at the Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg and, wrapped in a half-hectare of black tulle, brought the house down. Continue reading

CD Reviews: Two dashes of passion and finesse from Argentina

New York pianist Mirian Conti (Nan Melville photo).

MIRIAN CONTI
Nostalgias Argentinas (Steinway & Sons)

Here is music made for the dog days of summer — meditative and melancholy pieces for a shady hammock in the afternoon, tangos for twilight pleasure — from New York City-based pianist Mirian Conti. A native of Argentina, Conti has spent many years championing young pianists as well as the rich store of tuneful music written for her instrument in that country. Continue reading

Introducing: Piano Quintet, Op. 84, by Edward Elgar

This is the first in a weekly look at an indisputably great piece of music not frequently heard in concert. We’re starting with the Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 84, completed by Edward Elgar in January 1919.

The Nash Ensemble performed this work on Thursday night at Koerner Hall. Following the performance, I heard several people say how much they enjoyed this piece, which they’d never heard before. Continue reading

CD Review: Beware the deceptive charms of England’s Opera Babes

OPERA BABES
Silent Noon (Warner Classics)

There are so many amazing artists putting out great albums every month that I usually cast aside the mediocre stuff and focus on the music that is most worth sharing.

But I’m making an exception with the Opera Babes’ latest release, which is more about sappy sentimentality and clever marketing than about fine music. Continue reading