Category Archives: Classical Music, Recorded

Another Reason I Like Alex Ross

His recent post on the best Bruckner recordings on CD comes pretty close to mine (though I’m not as sanguine about the Welser-Möst/Cleveland Orchestra Bruckner DVDs I’ve seen). Besides, how can I not like a guy whose first LP was Jascha Horenstein’s mighty Bruckner Ninth on Vox?

I’ll add two alternate first choices to Alex’s short list: the Eighth with Herbert Blomstedt and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig on Querstand, and the Ninth with Evgeny Mravinsky conducting the Leningrad Philharmonic on Melodiya.

Is He the Greatest Recording Era Conductor You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of?

It was Ray Edwards – at the time buyer for Tower Records’ legendary, late, lamented classical department on West 4th and Broadway – that recommended I check out the recordings of British-born, Russian-raised conductor Albert Coates (I believe we’d been talking about the ever-popular “Toscanini vs. Furtwängler” debate and my having come down decidedly on the side of Willem Mengelberg).

Continue reading Is He the Greatest Recording Era Conductor You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of?

Is There a “Mozart Effect”? Oliver Sacks Says No… and Yes


An example of crass commercialism for which I blame myself — and it makes a great gift.

Does listening to Mozart make you a genius? Lest anyone forget, here is an example of a decade-plus-old product for which I take near-full responsibility.

Courtesy of the gang over at, Oliver Sacks has a detailed answer:

Continue reading Is There a “Mozart Effect”? Oliver Sacks Says No… and Yes

A “Das Lied” That Was Well Worth the Wait

I’m listening to a recording of Das Lied von der Erde that has been much awaited among Mahlerphiles: the concert recording of June 14, 1968 with Fritz Wunderlich, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and the Vienna Symphony conducted by Josef Krips. Back when I was with Andante there had been talk about attempting to release the recording; alas, those plans did not come to pass. The good news is that it’s finally been given an “official” release by Deutsche Grammophon. To say the extrovert, characterful performance transcends the boxy sonority (that sounds to these ears to have come from a true “taped off the Telefunken receiver” aircheck and not from a broadcast or archival master) is an understatement – the singing is stunning, and what a treat to hear Krips get such evocative playing from the Vienna Symphony. It’s the most edifying and satisfying vocal release I’ve heard so far this year. Highly recommended.

Deryck Cooke Lives

The voice of legendary critic and musicologist Deryck Cooke has officially been recovered from the depths of the BBC’s tape archives.

On December 10, 1960, the Third Programme (now Radio 3) aired Cooke’s lecture-demonstration on his first realization (with the assistance of composer Berthold Goldschmidt) of Mahler’s Symphony No. 10 followed by a performance of the near-complete realization by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Goldschmidt. This program has long circulated privately among Mahler enthusiasts. Testament Records has just released a newly remastered edition of the broadcast under license from the Beeb — along with a live Proms performance of the completed first realization (with further assistance from David and Colin Matthews) on August 13, 1964 by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Goldschmidt.

I’ve just put disc one on the CD player, and can attest to a huge improvement in sound quality over any privately circulated version I’ve run across. I will have much more to say about this release in the next few days. And here’s something else Mahlerites and admirers of Cooke might find interesting.


Sunday Afternoon Listening

Metier 92050 -- Michael Finnissy: "Lost Lands"Nothing quite cheers up an overcast Sunday afternoon in New York City like a little bit of music — in today’s case, that of Michael Finnissy. I’m typing this between the first two tracks on the “Lost Lands” CD, a program of works drawing on the sounds of disappearing musical cultures, from UK indie Metier Records. Oboist Christopher Redgate and percussionist Julian Warburton dispatch the complexities and nuances of “Dilok” and “Dalal”, two particularly pungent and exuberant works, with jaw-dropping ease. The remaining tracks, played by members of new music ensemble Topologies, are equally exciting.

Everyone’s a Critic, Even the Felines

Our cat Nicolò meowed one of his assertive meows as the first movement cadenza of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (the Oistrakh / Cluytens / French National Radio Orchestra recording on EMI) was about to emerge from the speakers — and then another as the tricky double-stops toward the end of the cadenza commenced. He’d been fed, so it wasn’t about “noms“. Nic sounded critical of something, but of what exactly I’m not certain, as he walked away.

Luxury Karr

I am still in the process of sorting through a pile of product samples, swag, and tchotchkes which I brought back from MIDEM over a month ago (which goes to show you how busy things are at Casa Gaudette), and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a number that are well worth some comment. So this is the first in four installments of new product worth tracking down.

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“Carlos Kleiber: Traces to Nowhere”

A month after Carlos Kleiber died, I ran into a prominent conductor of my acquaintance at Academy Records. When talk turned to Kleiber, he sighed and said, “My God, he was the greatest of us all. The greatest.”

Watch the opening segment of Eric Schulz’s deeply moving portrait of Kleiber, in the words and recollections of his colleagues intercut with rehearsal and concert footage, here. Hat tip: Sybille Werner.

UPDATE: It’s out now on DVD in North America. Find the best price here. If you were in New York City during October 1990 and caught Der Rosenkavalier at the MET, you know what all the buzz was about.