Each month, our arts critics — music, book, theater, dance, and visual arts — fire off a few brief reviews.
Mariss Jansons’ ultimate performance, taped live at Carnegie Hall, shows the maestro at the top of his game; François-Xavier Roth’s new recording of pieces by Ravel and Debussy is a bit of a hit-or-miss affair; Diana Damrau’s Tudor Queens, a survey of heroines from three Donizetti operas, is nothing short of terrific.
The two best things about Simon Rattle’s new recording of Die Walküre are, well, Rattle, himself, and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; a strongly played and majestically sung performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s unfairly neglected Die erste Walpurgisnacht.
Isabelle Faust makes Arnold Schoenberg’s thorny Violin Concerto sing; Mariss Jansons lends heft to Saint-Saëns’ Symphony no. 3, and John Wilson continues to be your go-to conductor for Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin’s pairing of Beethoven with Knecht is intelligent, programmatically and musically, but Thierry Fischer’s Symphony fantastique is a disappointing misfire.
Ádám Fischer’s reading of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony is breathtakingly clean.
A collection that provides a fascinating bit of context for how Andris Nelsons has developed as a conductor over the last decade-plus, and an honest, mostly flattering, tribute to a much-loved conductor, the late Mariss Jansons.
Terrific, fiery playing from George Li, one of the most compelling young pianists on the scene; Mariss Jansons’ recording of Shostakovich’s Tenth trudges from start to finish; irrefutable proof of Andris Nelsons’ excellence as a new-music conductor.
Herbert Blomstedt conducts a powerful version of Mahler’s valedictory essay, organist Christopher Jacobson provides a so-so “Organ” Symphony, and Kirill Petrenko’s initial recording as the chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic is lovely.
François-Xavier Roth’s Mahler offers plenty of personality and ideas; there’s nothing on Mariss Jansons’ disc that’s really worth your time; guitarist Daniel Lippel draws out Steve Reich’s lyrical qualities.