CD Review: Cellist Elinor Frey Explores Early Italian Concertos

A champion of under-performed 18-century treasures for cello, Elinor Frey’s latest recording is high in virtuosity and appeal. As the cover suggests, she has two instruments at her disposal: one a standard Strad-model cello, the other a 3/4 size cello that allows several of the works to really sing.

CD Review: Where Singers Are Their Own Accompanists for Expressive Power

This fantastic new disc, the Concerto di Margherita’s debut recording, includes an array of madrigals, arias, and villanelles for two to five voices, interspersed with instrumental works. The quality of the vocal production throughout is top-notch, and it is matched by that of the instruments, which shine as much in their various accompanying roles as in the standalone instrumental works.

CD Review: Mozart for Historical Bassoon

‘Mozart’s Bassoon’ features Peter Whelan as the soloist in the popular Bassoon Concerto while also directing his period-instrument group Ensemble Marsyas. The disc includes compelling performances of Mozart’s lesser-known Bassoon Sonata in B flat and one of his convention-defying wind serenades.

CD Review: Music of Early America from Three Notch’d Road

In Three Notch’d Road’s latest recording, ‘Shining Shore: Music of Early America,’ the Charlottesville group has mined the rich heritage of its own musically fertile region, presenting a fresh, inviting line-up of short songs and instrumental works that were likely heard in Virginia or its preceding colony from the late 17th-to mid-19th-centuries.

CD Review: Strikingly Original Music from Handel’s Violinist

Pietro Castrucci is not well enough known. He studied violin with Arcangelo Corelli, moved to London in 1715, and served as leader of Handel’s opera orchestra. Castrucci often performed with Handel and another of Corelli’s students in London, Francesco Geminiani. Although Castrucci’s compositional output is relatively small, his incredible invention and skill are much to be admired. This recording is the first complete set of his Op. 1 sonatas, a welcome addition to the Baroque violin repertoire.

CD Review: On Fortepiano, Schumann that Rivals Golden Age Pianists

American pianist David Hyun-su Kim’s historically informed recording of three familiar Robert Schumann masterworks—Papillons, Carnaval, and Arabeske—is brilliant artistry indeed. And his instrument is of special interest: a copy of an 1830s Graf fortepiano, made in 2013 by Rod Regier of Freeport, Maine, and based on an instrument given by Conrad Graf to Robert and Clara as a wedding present. Kim is sensitive to Schumann’s mercurial mood shifts, and he uses the fortepiano for sounds and effects that are hard to achieve on a modern instrument.

CD Review: An Urgent ‘St. Matthew Passion’ for Our Time

Pinchon and his superb singers and ensemble offer an immersive, all-encompassing experience. Throughout, they let Bach’s dance rhythms propel music and narrative. The conductor’s attention to relative weights and specific articulations adds a dimension of almost sensual physicality—the emotions expressed here are vividly embodied, not abstract prayers, What makes this interpretation a significant contribution to the vast Matthäus-Passion discography is the admirable balance it finds between dramatic, contemplative, and even architectural approaches, too often taken as polarities.

CD Review: Vivaldi Cantatas, Thrilling and Intimate

‘Vivaldi: Cantate per soprano I’ is the first of two volumes dedicated to Vivaldi’s chamber cantatas for soprano, part of Naïve’s colossal Vivaldi Edition. This new recording of six cantatas, composed between 1718 and 1735, reveals the depth of Vivaldi’s ingenious ability to shape moods, timbres, and emotions. Italian soprano Arianna Vendittelli and Abchordis Ensemble, led by Andrea Buccarella, have imbued this music about love with their own sense of drama, daring, and intimacy.

CD Review: How Much ‘Historical’ Performance Do We Really Want?

A new recording of Debussy’s opera raises complicated and interesting questions on issues of vocal sound and the attitude towards performance style. Do we want to adopt every aspect of Debussy’s sound world into our own? Do we prefer to call upon the highly refined and skilled vocal qualities that are prevalent today, or are we obliged to adhere to the styles of the past?

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