Acoustic Sounds

Music Reviews: Classical

One of my favorite classical records of the last few years is Impex Records’ stunning reissue of violinist Jascha Heifetz and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky’s Beethoven Op. 1 trio on RCA (LSC-2770). This often overlook record originally released on the much-maligned RCA Dynagroove label has been brought back to life, sounding worlds away from the compressed original.I had secretly hoped the label would be dipping its toes back into the RCA classical waters, but I think... Read More

genre Classical format Vinyl

So now, let me tell you why High Definition Tape Transfer’s stunning first-release downloads, based upon Jerry Bruck’s experimental session tapes from more than 50 years ago, is a “Must Buy” recommendation if you love the music of Gustav Mahler. (However, the same holds true, even if all you want is to hear your stereo system sounding as though it is worth all the money you have put into it!)

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[Note: “Playback on other websites has been disabled by the video owner.” Therefore, to open up this YouTube video in another window, please click HERE.]In 1973, Joni Mitchell wrote the song “A Free Man in Paris,” which, at the time, I found somewhat confusing. The confusion remained until I later learned that Mitchell had written the lyrics from the perspective of her friend David Geffen, the legendary music agent and promoter. So, it was not Joni herself who was... Read More

Many a western themed orchestral work ("western" as in cowboys), as well as probably some "eat beef" television commercial music keyed off of Antonín Dvořák's bold Symphony No. 9 (originally called Symphony No. 5 but not getting into that here). The Czech composer began writing it shortly after arriving in New York City on September 26th, 1892, but the set's annotator Alexander Moore makes clear that while the symphony is from the new... Read More

genre Classical format Vinyl

Chasing the Dragon returns with another superbly recorded classical music "warhorse" performed by the National Symphony Orchestra, U.K., this outing conducted by the orchestra's current musical director Anthony Inglis, with Leader Katerina Nazarova playing a Del Gesu violin valued, the annotation says, at 7 million pounds. The venue for this "Scheherazade" was Henry Wood Hall, an unused church turned into an orchestral rehearsal and recording... Read More

genre Classical format Tape Vinyl

Two new LPs from Yarlung Records offer great sound and even greater performances.

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genre Classical Acoustic format Vinyl

Recorded during the same 2011 and 2012 Zipper Hall, Los Angeles sessions that produced the remarkable percussion record “Smoke & Mirrors” (Yarlung 17255-195V), “Earth & Wood” is another sonic spectacular recorded directly to tape using a single AKG C24 stereo microphone (with Elliot Midwood mic amplification). The one-mike recording technique required “just so” placement of both it and the seven member Smoke and Mirrors Percussion Ensemble that performed the... Read More

In 2019, Hilary Hahn, one of the world’s leading violin virtuosos, announced she would be taking a one-year performing sabbatical. Little did she know, that period of time would see a prolongment of several months due to factors outside of her control. Her triumphant return to the concert hall in the spring of 2021 was an emotional experience for her, and from those first few concert programs back, we now have a new double LP set of recordings, her latest release on... Read More

genre Classical format Vinyl

Mendelssohn completed his Octet in E Flat Major when he was 16 years old. Good thing he started composing brilliant pieces while young because he was dead at 38. After completing the piece, dedicated to his violin teacher Eduard Rietz, Mendelssohn gave him the score as a birthday present on October 17, 1825. Rietz copied out all of the parts and it was quickly performed in an informal family gathering. Rietz lived an even shorter life. Tuberculosis got him at age 30.... Read More

The first time I ever saw a Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) symphony on my music stand, I was an 18-year-old student at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was the Symphony No. 1 in D Major (sometimes subtitled “Titan”) and I was tasked with playing the delicate low English horn notes in the opening measures. From that point on Gustav Mahler’s orchestral works would hold a special place in my musical growth, heralding the finale concerts of various... Read More

genre Classical format Vinyl

(This review originally appeared in Issue 7, Spring 1996.)Rachel’s’ 1995 release Handwriting LP (Quarterstick 30 LP) is on my top 10 of ‘95 list and this enchanting record may end up on the ‘96 list. The music here was composed by pianist Rachel Grimes for a dance and theater piece based on the life of turn of the century Viennese painter Egon Schiele.The stage work was written and directed by Stephan Mazurek for Chicago’s Itinerant Theater Guild, which he heads. The... Read More