Music reviews

Schmelzer: The Emperor’s Fiddler

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Relatively little is known about Austrian composer Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (1623–1680), despite being described during his lifetime as ‘the famous and just about foremost violinist of all Europe’. …

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Arvo Pärt by Viktoria Mullova & Paavo Järvi

Reviewed by Kate Rockstrom

When I worked Sunday evenings at Readings in Carlton (some few years ago now) one of my favourite albums to put on in the shop to bring the vibe down and yet give it a frisson of emotion was Arvo Pär…

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Sea Glass by Grand Salvo

Reviewed by Fiona Hardy

Paddy Mann’s seventh album as Grand Salvo, and – the first in six years – follows his full-hearted embrace of a theme for each record he creates. The opening track, ‘A Flux of Moments’, swells with t…

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Himmelsmusik

Reviewed by Kate Rockstrom

The celebrated Baroque harpist and theorbo player (a type of lute) Christina Pluhar is a favourite of Readings. She has consistently released superb albums bringing a new life to early European music…

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Wanderer by Cat Power

Reviewed by Fiona Hardy

Six years after her electronica-influenced album Sun, Chan Marshall returns with a pared-back, self-produced album that she has dedicated to all those who wandered before her, a notion that weaves it…

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Into the Fire: Live at Wigmore Hall

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

For me, the drawcard of mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato’s latest album, recorded live in Wigmore Hall, is not Jake Heggie’s song cycle Into the Fire, but DiDonato’s moving Richard Strauss interpretation…

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Calling the Muse: Old & New Pieces for Theorbo

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Bruno Helstroffer is a master theorbist. In Calling the Muse he draws on his experience as blues guitarist and early music specialist, depicting a broad landscape for the repertoire of his instrument…

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Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 5 & Pieces for Solo Piano

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Eight years ago, on a trip to Paris, I visited Saint-Saëns’s tomb at Montparnasse Cemetery. Not out of some kind of morbid curiosity, but instead to commune with a composer whose music I love but fee…

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Debussy: Songs Volume 4

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Lucy Crowe, it would seem, is the soprano of the hour. I admit, I am biased in her favour after witnessing her glorious 2017 performance in the title role of Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen with the B…

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Handel: Acis and Galatea

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

No sooner have Acis and Galatea declared their love than the evil giant (read: sexual predator) Polyphemus tears their union asunder. After doggedly but unsuccessfully pursuing Galatea, a jilted Poly…

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