A young ensemble, the USE is a technically accomplished one and, regardless of the interpretive strengths or weaknesses of each reading, the group’s sheer skill level is evenly impressive.
This disc highlights various, early-20th-century works inspired by the Kalevala, the Finnish creation epic. It is a fantastic demonstration of creative programming and invigorating orchestral performance.
Each month, our arts critics — music, book, theater, dance, and visual arts — fire off a few brief reviews.
Here is an outstanding recording from the Escher String Quartet of music by two stylistically divergent 20th-century American composers, Samuel Barber and Charles Ives.
A welcome entry in complete sets of Camille Saint-Saëns’ five symphonies — a composer of his caliber deserves a wealth of viewpoints.
If this is your first Bluebeard’s Castle, Susanna Mälkki’s recording makes for a fine, occasionally inspired, introduction.
There’s much to admire in the color, character, and urgency of the Minnesotans’ playing and the overall strong direction from conductor Osmo Vänskä.
Three new discs do right by Beethoven’s chamber music.
Soprano Ruby Hughes’ album is fine, well played, sung, and programmed; baritone Christoph Prégardien delivers vocal works by Mahler, Alexander von Zemlinsky, and Max Reger with warmth; soprano Diana Damrau is in her glorious prime singing the songs of Strauss.
Lovers of American music, don’t miss Aspects of America: The Pulitzer Edition ; Lindberg’s recording of Leonard Bernstein’s first two symphonies lacks a compelling command of the musician’s singular voice; the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra tackles four pieces by Morton Gould.