CD Reviews | CTD (Briefly Noted) | JFL (Dip Your Ears) | DVD Reviews


On ClassicsToday: Víkingur Ólafsson's Bach With Heart and Panache

Icelandic Bach With Heart and Panache

by Jens F. Laurson
It has been 13 years since the Alexandre Tharaud Bach recital “concertos italiens” came out. It’s taken that long for any Bach-on-piano recital disc to come even close to that recording-for-the-ages. By way of clever selection of works—staples of transcribed Bach with original Bach and... Continue Reading [Insider content]

P.S. Víkingur Ólafsson on ionarts &

Viking(s) and Beethoven (2005)
Víkingur Ólafsson, Easy Listening (2013)
Classical CD Of The Week: Víkingur Heiðar Ólafsson; Through The Piano Glass


On ClassicsToday: Jóhann Jóhannsson - 12 Conversations With Thilo Heinzmann

CD From the Elevator to Hell: 12 Conversations With Thilo Heinzmann

by Jens F. Laurson
12 Conversations with Thilo Heinzmann, a new release from Deutsche Grammophon, is best listened to on vinyl (it’s available in that format!) in a fashionable, faux-derelict loft apartment in Soho, London, or Berlin. Thick beard, suspenders, horn rimmed glasses, woolen west and ironic T-shirt, and pork pie hat optional – but recommended... Continue Reading 


My Uncle, Harpsichordist: Session 006 (Jean Françaix)

I grew up with the records of my uncle’s (him performing, that is)—most memorably Scarlatti sonatas and some baroque sonatas for harpsichord and recorder. A few years ago I stumbled across a stack of copied CDs—taken from those out-of-print LPs and home-recordings—and grabbed them for memory’s sake. To my great intrigue, I found several discs devoted to works from the 20th century… which made me realize what a pity it is that I never talked about music with my uncle.

It might just be of interest to present the tracks of these recordings here, as a little personal musical (living) memorial. He was, after all, a formative person in my life, impressing on a kid of five, six, seven years the joys of collecting and tasting wine, eating and enjoying mushrooms and zucchini (garlic was the key to my palate then and it still is), and… Scarlatti.

Here’s track №.6:

Jean Françaix (1912-1997), L’insectarium pour Cembalo: Les Fourmis | Die Ameisen | Ants (2:20)
Performance by Detlef Goetz-Laurson, 1980

Score: Schott
Commercial Recording: N/A (Apart from an OOP 7-inch single by Marga Scheurich)
Premiered in 1957, by Wanda Landowska.


On ClassicsToday: Henri Marteau’s Intriguing Works for String Quartet on CPO

Major Discovery: Henri Marteau’s Intriguing Works for String Quartet

by Jens F. Laurson
Henri Marteau was born in 1874 in Reims. His career as a violinist–where he made something of a name for himself, especially as an interpreter of Reger–took him all across Europe, although he eventually settled in Lichtenberg, Germany, in the northeastern part of Bavaria. As World War I ... Continue Reading


On ClassicsToday: Rusalka at Theater an der Wien (Review & Production Photos)

Between Thursday, September 19th and September 30th, the Theater and der Wien put on Rusalka, conducted by David Afkham and directed by Amélie Niermeyer. The ClassicsToday review is (finally) up.Production Details on the TadW's website.

ClassicsToday: Rusalka Gets Wet Feet In Vienna

More pictures from the production below.

Ionarts-at-Large: The 2018 Pärnu Music Festival

Pärnu Music Festival

Paavo Järvi & EFO At Pärnu Music Festival 2018 – © IMZ Media

In sunny-summery Pärnu, on Estonia’s south western coast, it is possible to wade through the Baltic Sea one moment, and thirty minutes later sit in the concert hall with sand still between your toes, and enough time left to crane your neck to get a better look at Estonia’s Who’s-Who, all present among the audience assuming they aren’t conducting the concert in question. In this case, on August 8th, at the Estonian Festival Orchestra’s concert under Paavo Järvi, those included Neeme Järvi, paterfamilias of the conducting clan, Arvo Pärt (at a sprightly 82 years still hopping – well, clambering – up the stage after his Third Symphony), and the splendid Erkki-Sven Tüür.[1] Also present: the slightly less well known Jüri Reinvere, whose And tired from Happiness… (“Und müde vom Glück”) received its premiere, and Tõnu Kõrvits, who was handed the Lepo Sumera Award for Composition before Järvi gave that night’s first upbeat at Pärnu Concert Hall.

Said hall has a pill-shaped layout, slightly raked orchestra seating and a balcony that goes 370° round all the way – except for a spot stage-right, where two immense 20-foot doors loom over the orchestra. Judging from a third back among the orchestra seats, it has a fine, accurate acoustic, not conducive to loud volumes and a little on the dry side. That proved a good environment to hear finely articulated strings and the clear woodwinds in Arvo Pärt’s Third Symphony, “his most popular to date, [which] makes a charismatic point of [the composer’s] then-newly won melodiously religious sentiment by quoting Gregorian chant amid all the other well-known Pärt contraptions”[2]. It also made the music appear as blocks of music (somewhere between Gabrieli and Bruckner), only reasonably seamlessly fused to form a gratifying whole. Strangely dampened, the Symphony ended up very much a low-octane affair for a concert opener.

The contrast was made more overt by Jüri Reinvere’s wham-bam And tired from Happiness… that opened the second half. The stage filled up to the brim with musicians, instigating the immediate thought: ‘Good luck getting that performed again!’ Then again, he may be onto something: Subsidized orchestra-musicians all over Europe need to work to satisfy the politicians that judge an orchestra’s success by how efficiently the total amount of players were used throughout the year. Never mind that this amounts to a penalty on performing Haydn and Mozart or anything else benefiting from a smaller ensemble – and skews the game in favor of the big romantics and beyond. If you have a harp and tuba and contra-bassoonist on your payroll, you have better use ‘em! Well, Jüri Reinvere does.

Pretty neatly, too: The faintly Wagner-ish “Schatten im Spiegel” movement glides and swells along pleasantly, fully harmonic (you’d scarcely expect anything else from an Estonian composer these days), with transitions that veered between Brucknerian and awkward. The long rising accumulative energy generated the thrill that the Pärt had denied. The mildly pretentious German movement titles can’t distract from that. The clusters are harmless. The string pizzicatos, accentuated by the [continue reading]


On ClassicsToday: Reference Set of Bach Multiple Keyboard Concertos on Alpha

Koroliov’s Multiple-Keyboard Concerto Reference Recording

by Jens F. Laurson
Every so often the state of Bach’s keyboard concertos—BWV 1052 through 1065—deserves a brief recap: The first six, for cembalo and orchestra, have in common that they were conceived as a set and that they are—like all the rest—transcriptions of earlier concertos (not all of which have surv... Continue Reading


On ClassicsToday: Filling In The Gaps: Dukas’ Marvelous Ariane With Gary Bertini

Filling In The Gaps: Dukas’ Marvelous Ariane With Gary Bertini

by Jens F. Laurson
If you think of Paul Dukas as a Mickey-Mouse composer, think again. He may be forever associated with a famous musical rodent through Disney’s depiction of his tone poem on Goethe’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice in the film Fantasia. But there’s a good deal more to Dukas, even though he abandoned an... Continue Reading [Insider content]