EMA Recording & Book Reviews

Reviews by the editorial staff of Early Music America. Have a new recording or book? Submit it for consideration.


Music Theory Decolonized, with Examples

Music Theory Decolonized, with Examples

Reba Wissner
We're starting to see music history texts that discuss the music and careers of women and composers of color. With Paula Maust's new anthology, we can now include music theory examples that will help dispel the notion that there were no important composers from these underrepresented groups.
Well-Tempered Bach from Matthew Dirst

Well-Tempered Bach from Matthew Dirst

Steven Silverman
Eloquent and technically impeccable, harpsichordist Matthew Dirst's new recording of J.S. Bach's 'The Well-Tempered Clavier' (Book 1) comes highly recommended. His readings are full of sentiment but avoid sentimentality, capturing the music's dignity and pathos.
The Earliest Song of Solomon Settings

The Earliest Song of Solomon Settings

Karen M. Cook
Ensemble Peregrina has long researched and performed music away from the Medieval and Renaissance mainstream, from the periphery in geography and attitude. Their latest recording explores the earliest known setting of the biblical Song of Songs, with exceptional musicianship and an exciting, surprising, sense of character.
Trouvère Songs of Love and Loss

Trouvère Songs of Love and Loss

Aaron Keebaugh
Brooklyn-based Alkemie's latest recording, devoted to music from the 13th-century trouvères of Northern France, draws as much on contemporary folk and Celtic styles as Medieval historical performance practice. At turns extravagant or yearning, this is music of celebratory zeal as well as poetic musing.
Cantata Collective's B-minor Mass

Cantata Collective’s B-minor Mass

Jeffrey Baxter
The Bay Area's Cantata Collective continue its acclaimed Bach series with his greatest large-scale work, the B-minor Mass. Beautifully paced by Nicholas McGegan, this 'live' recording features outstanding vocal and instrumental soloists. At its best, the chorus 'shines in their expressive use of color and shading,' thanks to McGegan's 'careful balancing and phrasing.'
Inside the Italians Singing in Mozart's Vienna

Inside the Italians Singing in Mozart’s Vienna

Pamela Dellal
Dorothea Link's book, 'The Italian Opera Singer in Mozart's Vienna' proves to be entertaining and eye-opening, providing a valuable insights into the Viennese opera milieu.
Cut Circle's Josquin, Dramatic and Revelatory

Cut Circle’s Josquin, Dramatic and Revelatory

Karen M. Cook
The well-trodden ground under Josquin interpretations may be shifting thanks to Jesse Rodin and his Cut Circle ensemble. They rethink key approaches to this repertoire, from tempo and vocal timbre to the choice of acoustic -- with often startling results.
Avoiding the Trap of Musical Exoticism

Avoiding the Trap of Musical Exoticism

Stephanie Manning
Montreal's Infusion Baroque joyously blurs the lines between Western 'early music' and 'world music' in their latest album, East is East. The ensemble's core musicians, plus an array of distinguished guests, make East and West sound refreshing and new.
All About That Bass: Continuo on Top

All About That Bass: Continuo on Top

Aaron Keebaugh
Basso continuo usually takes an accompanying role, but Montréal's Space Time Continuo puts the bottom on top and into the fore. The ensemble adapts Italian lyricism for versatile lower-voiced instruments, depicting heaven and earth and all the emotional states in between.
From the Golden Age of Musical Arrangements

From the Golden Age of Musical Arrangements

Mark Kroll
Arrangements of popular music have long been shunned in certain circles. But the author of a concise new book suggests that by ignoring arrangements, we've missed considerable cultural, artistic, and historical insights into music from the era.
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