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Articles by Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Cecilia and Sol

November 17th, 2017
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The present album brings together the super-mezzo Cecilia Bartoli and cellist Sol Gabetta. It is as good as it gets, until you realize that you can get too much of a good thing.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Late Schubert Sonatas

November 10th, 2017
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Some records grab you by the ears, others take longer to impress. It is in no sense to Krystian Zimerman’s discredit that his first attempt at late Schubert took three spins on my deck before I grasped the originality of his interpretation.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Les Troyens

November 3rd, 2017
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The need for a new-gen recording of Berlioz’s epic opera Les Troyens is pressing. A new release aims for the crown and hits its mark.

Normal Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – George Martin

October 27th, 2017
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This first album of George Martin’s orchestral music and film scores, elegantly played by Craig Leon’s Berlin’s Music Ensemble, gives us an opportunity to see what might have been going on behind George’s determinedly bland musical façade.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Weiner Divertimentos

October 21st, 2017
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The five Divertimentos that make up the bulk of this release date from the 1930s to 1950s and, rooted in folk dances, are determinedly upbeat. You’d never know that Hitler and Stalin were banging at the door.

Normal Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Chopin Evocations

October 13th, 2017
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Daniil Trifonov thinks nothing of coming on stage with one wrist in a bandage, no explanation offered, or of asking the audience not to applaud at any time through a 90-minute recital, so it would be absurd to expect him to release a conventional Chopin album.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Mozart: Violin Concerto, Sonata

October 6th, 2017
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Noa Wildschut first appeared on Dutch television at six years old and at the Concertgebouw a year later. She’s 16 now, old enough to take a bit of criticism and interesting enough to warrant adult consideration.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Scriabin: 2nd Symphony, Piano Concerto

September 29th, 2017
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Scriabin, as he so often does, takes us to the brink only to skitter away on some frivolity. But there is much to enjoy here, so long as you don’t expect too much.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Haydn: Cello Concertos

September 24th, 2017
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The instant appeal of this recording is that it contains not just two well-known Haydn concertos but three extra pieces that complement and contextualize them. The second benefit is the performance.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Surviving: Jewish Women

September 15th, 2017
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Four releases, arriving in timely fashion for the upcoming New Year, explore the shushed-up sounds of creative Jewish femininity.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Unknown Composers

September 8th, 2017
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None of the music on this gripping compilation will be familiar to anyone alive, but much of it is essential listening.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – C.P.E. Bach: Late Keyboard Pieces

September 1st, 2017
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A vintage piano helps Alexei Lyubimov redeem C.P.E. Bach’s late keyboard music from mediocrity, adding pastel colours to the sound picture, along with a hint of unpredictability that can almost be Cageian.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the week – Hans Werner Hanze

August 25th, 2017
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It has been five years since Hans Werner Henze left us, and it is once again a pleasure to encounter these otherworldly pieces, rich in references to a forgotten age and its leisurely pace.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – For Bunita Marcus

August 18th, 2017
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Marc-André Hamelin plays a piece, tainted by controversy, that Morton Feldman wrote as an act of homage to Bunita Marcus, who accused him of theft and sexual abuse.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – El-Khoury and Spyres in Concert

August 11th, 2017
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A new release from Opera Rara usually consists of some bel canto work that has languished forgotten in a vault since its premiere 160 years ago. This package, though, is different: a pair of debut releases by two fast-rising singers, soprano and tenor, mingling well-known arias with the fairly obscure.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – The Dream of Gerontius

August 4th, 2017
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Daniel Barenboim’s new recording of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius is the best-sounding on record. But is it the best-played?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Mahler’s 5th

July 28th, 2017
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Mahler’s 5th Symphony has no shortage of fine interpretations. Two new recordings join them: one great and the other among the greatest of all time.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Walton: concerto & variations

July 21st, 2017
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William Walton is very much an on-off composer. What’s remarkable about this recording is that the performance transcends his shortcomings.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Fischer-Dieskau, Varady: Romantic duets

July 14th, 2017
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Together, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and his wife Julia Varady make the love in Schumann’s songs seem somehow less hopeless, and the hope in Mendelssohn less forlorn.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich & Martinu cello concertos

July 7th, 2017
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Two cello concertos, one upbeat, the other pessemistic, make a perfect companions on this new disc.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Ben-Haim orchestral works

June 30th, 2017
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he music of Ben-Haim will not change lives – by 1984, when he died, it was hardly heard in Israel any more – but the musical personality behind it is attractive, smart and persuasive

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Strauss songs

June 23rd, 2017
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To sing Richard Strauss, everything has to be just-so, shimmering on the surface and hinting at Freudian urges below. English soprano Louise Alder meets his challenge.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Carbonelli: Sonate da Camera

June 16th, 2017
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ever heard of Carbonelli? Don’t feel too bad about it. Listen to the music, though, and you will wonder how work of such quality and intricacy could vanish so comprehensively into the mists of history.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Russia Cast Adrift

June 9th, 2017
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Georgy Sviridov was born in the thick of Russia’s metamorphosis, and his idiom in these lieder – narrative, tonal, almost static at times – reflects the stand-off between political upheaval and the impervious cycles of nature.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Ravel and De Falla concertos

June 2nd, 2017
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There is a lot of competition for performances of Ravel and De Falla’s work for piano and orchestra, but Steven Osborne’s new release belongs among the best.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich’s First

May 26th, 2017
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There is nothing wrong with this account of Shostakovich’s First Symphony it if you count all the notes and admire the sound. It takes no risks at all, and is only partially redeemed by the inclusion of rare juvenalia.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Kathleen Ferrier remembered

May 19th, 2017
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Listening to these Kathleen Ferrier tracks, newly retrieved from BBC broadcasts and never released before, one is struck over again by the great contralto’s overriding characteristic – her natural, unfettered generosity.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Impromptu

May 12th, 2017
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Shai Wosner has released a fine recording of impromptus by various composers. But when you’re done listening, where do you put it?

Normal Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Mahler’s Third Symphony

May 5th, 2017
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There is no wholly recommendable performance on record of Mahler’s third symphony. This performance, by Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, is uneven but worthwhile nonetheless.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lokshin’s Clarinet quintet

April 28th, 2017
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A composer uncompromising in his reckless independence, Alexander Lokshin is not always approachable. Consider this release an icebreaker.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Davidsbündlertänze

April 21st, 2017
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Do not be put off either by the coupling of Schumann with a record newbie whose name you may not recognize. Schumann requires intense contemplation before an artist can make more than pretty gallery pictures of his pieces, and Luca Burrato is up to the challenge.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Szymanowski

April 14th, 2017
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I generally receive the springtime festival releases with the same excitement as I’d feel about a Placido Domingo Christmas record. What comes round, comes round. This one, however, is pure class

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Rachmaninov concertos

April 7th, 2017
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It’s raining Rachmaninov concertos and I’m not sure the roof can take any more. This is the third new release in two weeks. Is it any good?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Verdi’s Requiem

March 31st, 2017
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The London Symphony Orchestra has released a marvelous, exhilarating liver performance of Verdi’s Requiem, one only slightly let down by its recording methods.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Bach Trios

March 24th, 2017
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It’s hard to evaluate an album of Bach for trio, including Yo-Yo Ma, that is so expertly played yet so flagrantly inoffensive.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Hanns Eisler

March 10th, 2017
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A beautifully played album illuminates the expressive film scores of the unjustly overlooked Hanns Eisler.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Nadia Boulanger

March 3rd, 2017
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Nadia Boulanger deferred to the music of her short-lived sister Lily and barely spoke of herself as a composer. Two releases, newly landed, may help to adjust that misperception.

Normal Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Tishchenko’s 8th

February 24th, 2017
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Try as I might, I can’t stop listening to these late works of a Russian composer who was close to Shostakovich but never tried, as others did, to imitate him.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Hungarian Treasures

February 17th, 2017
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The unique selling point of this release is what appears to be the first recording of Bartok’s piano quartet in C minor. Unfortunately, it’s not very good.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Kapralova piano music

February 10th, 2017
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Vitezslava Kapralova was a pioneering conductor as well as a developing composer, but she died when she was only 25 years old. A disc of her piano music suggests just how much was lost when she passed away.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Renée Fleming’s Distant Light

February 3rd, 2017
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Renée Fleming’s Distant Light

Renée Fleming is ending her stage career. Let’s hope this album, which plays to all her weaknesses, isn’t the end of her recording career.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Bernstein Symphonies

January 27th, 2017
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Leonard Bernstein’s symphonies have long been neglected in favor of his popular work, but Marin Alsop breathes new life into them by surpassing the composer himself.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Weinberg Chamber Symphonies

January 20th, 2017
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Formerly unknown, Mieczylaw Weinberg stature as a composer is growing–deservedly so, as these chamber symphonies attest.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich concertos

January 13th, 2017
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Despite how they’re often played, Shostakovich’s piano concertos weren’t intended for virtuoso performers. Boris Giltburg tries an originalist approach.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Guglielmo Ratcliff

January 6th, 2017
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The release of a long-forgotten opera proves, finally, that Pietro Mascagni was not a one hit wonder.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Pictures of America

December 31st, 2016
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What would Natalie Dessay find in a collection of American songs that others have not found before?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Bach complete keyboard works

December 16th, 2016
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Amid the seasonal rock fall of weird-shaped box sets and unopenable recorded turkeys, one project stands out as indispensable in both musical and moral dimensions.

Norman Lebrecht’s Alternative Record of the Year

December 9th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Alternative Record of the Year

Most critics pick their album of the year from the ones they reviewed over the past 52 weeks. I’ve decided to choose from the ones I haven’t, the ones that for one reason or other failed to make the weekly cut

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Henselt piano works

December 2nd, 2016
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Adolph von Henselt was a follower of fashion, not a leader of trends, but as Daniel Grimwoods latest release shows, he is nonetheless very much worth a listen.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Encores after Beethoven

November 30th, 2016
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If you thought of encores as sweetmeats, Andras Schiff’s album of encores given during a Beethoven cycle will redefine the genre.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Elgar and Martinu cello concertos

November 18th, 2016
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Sol Gabetta authors a splendidly distinctive interpretation of Elgar’s famous cello concerto, and pairs it with an underappreciated work in the genre by Martinu.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich plays Shostakovich

November 11th, 2016
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The people Shostakovich played with were the elite of Russian music. A treasure trove of archive finds reveals the music they made together.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the week – vocal works by Schoenberg & Shostakovich

November 4th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the week – vocal works by Schoenberg & Shostakovich

Two composers in despair composed these works for voice and piano, which contain some of the darkest moments known to music. How do they sound with a full orchestra?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Kurtág string quartets

October 28th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Kurtág string quartets

Away from the imprisonment of a concert hall, György Kurtág’s string quartets create an ambience akin to Gregorian chant: it’s the perfect chillout music.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Tchaikovsky

October 21st, 2016
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The benchmarks for Tchaikovsky’s sixth symphony are mono in both uses of the term, aural and chromatic. How does a modern release hold up?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: French Suites

October 14th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: French Suites

After playing all his life for Columbia Masterworks, Murray Perahia has released his first recording for Deutsche Grammophon, a luminous recording of Bach’s French Suites.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder

October 7th, 2016
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It is so rare to hear the Gurre Lieder live that most of us are acquainted with it only on record. A new concert recording of this liminal composition aims to join the pantheon.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Pretty Yende

September 30th, 2016
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It is now seven years since the South African soprano Pretty Yende burst on our ears as winner of the 2009 Hans Gabor competition in Vienna. That omission has now, finally, been repaired.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lang Lang: New York Rhapsody

September 23rd, 2016
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A bizarre “crossover” album combines pop songs, fragments of Andrew Copland, Gershwin, and a dual performance by Lang Lang and Herbie Hancock. So how New York is this album?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Prokofiev Violin Concertos

September 16th, 2016
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Prokofiev’s violin concertos, one anarchic, one written under duress to please Stalin, anchor an intriguing new release from Vadim Gluzman and Neeme Järvi.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

September 9th, 2016
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Michael Nyman’s rare and underappreciated chamber opera, based on a book by Oliver Sacks, finally gets a rare new recording.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Ustvolskaya, Silverstrov, Kancheli

September 2nd, 2016
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The late Soviet system created damaging monopolies in the arts as much as they did in state industry. The three lesser-known composers in this intriguing album each tackled the hegemony from a different aspect.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Elgar Remastered

August 26th, 2016
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The last decade and a half of Elgar’s musical life was focused on leaving a legacy in the form of composer-approved recordings. A remastered 4-CD set collects the brilliant results.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Martinu’s Ariane

August 19th, 2016
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I am beginning to wonder if posterity will ever place Bohuslav Martinu where he justly belongs, as one who’s sound world is at once distinctive and entirely approachable, the mark of a great composer.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Schubert Leider

August 12th, 2016
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It’s always a good sign when a pianist is named as the editorial force behind a lieder recital, giving the enterprise both objective distance and intellectual rigour, as it does in these Schubert leider.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Sibelius Symphonies

July 30th, 2016
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The Minnesota Orchestra’s partnership with the Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä is a treasure of our times, especially when they play music of the frozen north.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – F.X. Mozart & Clementi piano concertos

July 22nd, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – F.X. Mozart & Clementi piano concertos

They’re not great (in fact they’re often mild and unoriginal), but the concertos of Muzio Clementi and Mozart’s son, Frances Xaver, are nonetheless worth your time.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Polish Violin Concertos

July 16th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Polish Violin Concertos

There used to be a truth, universally acknowledged across the record industry, that you could put out unfamiliar music with a famous artist or popular music with an unheralded performer but never attempt what Donald Rumsfeld might have called the unknown unknowns.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Songs without Words

July 8th, 2016
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They may grate in other instances, but period instruments are well suited to Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words, as this new recording demonstrates.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Glazunov and Khachaturian violin concertos

July 1st, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Glazunov and Khachaturian violin concertos

Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto towers over all other Russian efforts in the genre, but these two by Glazunov and Khachaturian deserve a wider audience.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lucas Debargue

June 24th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lucas Debargue

In an era replete with talented young competition winners, Lucas Debargue, who placed fourth in the 2015 Tchaikovsky Competition, stands out.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich chamber music

June 17th, 2016
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These three Shostakovich chamber works span the composer’s whole career, and together they constitute a musical self-portrait with few equals.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – All you need is Bach

June 10th, 2016
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Cameron Carpenter is virtuosic, effervescent, totally in command of his pipes and sometimes quirky enough to make you rethink the piece from core principles. But does that approach work in Bach?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – piano pieces by Feldman and Crumb

June 3rd, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – piano pieces by Feldman and Crumb

Steven Osborne takes on unexpected repertoire: the ascetic Morton Feldman and the extreme George Crumb.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Anonymous Concertos

May 27th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Anonymous Concertos

These six early-classical concertos are close to the best music of their time and yet the composers of these six concertos are unknown.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Vaughan Williams Symphonies

May 20th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Vaughan Williams Symphonies

Vaughn Williams’ symphonies are too little played, and too rarely played well. The first disc of an exciting new cycle aims to change that.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Haydn: Violin Concertos

May 13th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Haydn: Violin Concertos

A new release of an old recording prompts the question: Why are orchestra chiefs still afraid of Joseph Haydn?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Beethoven: symphonies 4 and 5

May 6th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Beethoven: symphonies 4 and 5

Just months before his death, Nikolaus Harnoncourt made his final attempt to faithfully render Beethoven’s scores into music. Norman Lebrecht assesses his valediction.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Mahler: 3rd symphony

April 29th, 2016
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Mahler’s Third is a challenge of both organization and interpretation. Does Jaap van Zweeden’s new live recording deserve a place among the greats?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – DG: The Mono Era

April 22nd, 2016
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The DG represented in this massive box of rarities is a label under post-War reconstruction, fascinating in its rigour and frugality.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Argerich and Barenboim

April 16th, 2016
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Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim, born a year apart in Buenos Aires to Jewish mothers of Russian extraction, have left it until their mid-seventies to discover common ground.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lutoslawski: Concerto for Orchestra

April 8th, 2016
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Unlike most composers, Lutoslawski’s star has risen since his death. A new pairing of pairing of orchestral works shows why.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Pasternak and Scriabin

April 1st, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Pasternak and Scriabin

Out of Russia’s close-knit musical world, Ludmila Berlinskaya brings us Scriabin–and works from his son and the son of a man who painted him.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Beethoven, Britten, Haydn: British songs

March 26th, 2016
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Beethoven and Haydn scored Scottish and Welsh ballads for easy money; Britten set folk songs for tours of the front during World War II. Yet the results belie the music’s incidental origins.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Debussy, Elgar &c: violin sonatas

March 18th, 2016
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A new album of rare quality features four works for violin and piano, all composed during World War I, all played flawlessly.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – British Clarinet Concertos Vol. 2

March 11th, 2016
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Confiscated by US Customs during World War II, a reconstructed Britten concerto caps a disc of rare British music.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Mahler

March 4th, 2016
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Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Mahler 1st is unlike any other – but does this young man’s Mahler miss the point? Norman Lebrecht investigates.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Stephan and Magnard

February 26th, 2016
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A new album features two composers joined by tragic deaths on opposite sides of the First World War.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Ivry Gitlis

February 19th, 2016
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Ivry Gitlis lives on – and he’s a legend. Norman Lebrecht reviews the violinist’s newest.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Medtner/Rachmaninov

February 12th, 2016
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“Something clicks in the opening track of this album in a way this listener seldom experiences, in concert or on record.” Yevgeny Sudbin plays Medtner and Rachmaninov. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Dvorak/Janacek

February 5th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Dvorak/Janacek

“There is nothing like a Czech string quartet.” Norman Lebrecht reviews the newest from the Wihan Quartet.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Manhattan Intermezzo

January 28th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Manhattan Intermezzo

This week’s CD features concertos by Neil Sedaka and Duke Ellington keyboardist Keith Emerson, and the only weak point is Rhapsody in Blue. Norman Lebrecht explains.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – The Westminster Legacy

February 7th, 2014
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An extraordinary 40 CD box-set compiles the uncollected glories of the great classical label Westminster Records

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Delius in Norway

January 16th, 2014
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Frederick Delius can be an acquired taste. Now a new recording tries to win listeners over with some of his most intriguing compositions. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – André Tchaikovsky

January 8th, 2014
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For many years he was known as the man who left his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company for use in the gravediggers’ scene in Hamlet. But a new album showcases André Tchaikovsky’s inimitable music.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – James MacMillan

December 17th, 2013
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The album of the week is the unmatched choral music of James MacMillan and Capella Nova

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Splinters

December 5th, 2013
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There’s a certain unforgettable sound that can only come from Hungarian composers; a new recording of György Kurtág’s Splinters suite captures it with bracing clarity

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – String Quartets

November 28th, 2013
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The Zehetmair Quartet delivers a rich new recording of music by Beethoven, Bruckner, Hartmann and Holliger

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Natalie Dessay

November 20th, 2013
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The great Natalie Dessay is back … this time singing movie soundtracks? Norman Lebrecht listens.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lang Lang and Simon Rattle

November 13th, 2013
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Lang Lang unites with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra unite to perform two of the world’s most show-stopping piano concertos

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Antonio Meneses & Maria Joao Pires

October 16th, 2013
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Deutsche Grammophon brings forth a stunning recital at Wigmore Hall by Portuguese musicians Antonio Meneses & Maria Joao Pires. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Boris Giltburg

October 8th, 2013
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Pianist Boris Giltburg’s somber, beautiful new album shows a heartening independent spirit. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Diana Damrau

October 2nd, 2013
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The songs to My Fair Lady, sung in German? Just one of the idiosyncrasies of Diana Damrau’s irresistible new vocal album.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Wagner’s Piano Sonatas

September 25th, 2013
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In 1832, nineteen-year-old Richard Wagner composed two piano sonatas in an effort to fill the vacuum left by Beethoven’s death. Norman Lebrecht discusses the results.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Hanns Eisler: Serious Songs

September 19th, 2013
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Behold: a near perfect album. German baritone Matthias Goerne soars in a new recording of the music of Hanns Eisler.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Kuniko Kato

August 29th, 2013
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Kuniko Kato, percussion virtuoso, uses marimbas, crotales, bells and vibraphones to adapt the work of classical composers

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Vladimir Horowitz in London

August 21st, 2013
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In 1982, Vladimir came to London and gave his first recital in Europe in 31 years. The release of that performance is something no piano lover can do without.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Peter Grimes

August 7th, 2013
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In June, Britten’s “Peter Grimes” was staged on the beach at the Aldeburgh Festival of Music. The results, Norman Lebrecht writes, were remarkable.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Artur Schnabel

August 1st, 2013
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The great Austrian pianist Artur Schnabel was in his mind a composer first and foremost. Norman Lebrecht reviews a recording of his piano works.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Down by the Sea

July 24th, 2013
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It’s only July, but Norman Lebrecht may have found his choral album of the year. A review of the magnificent folk songs in Naxos’s “Down by the Sea.”

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Raluca Stirbat

July 17th, 2013
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In her newest release, Romanian pianist Raluca Stirbat turns out some exceptionally supple recitals of Bartok and Debussy

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Timo Andres

July 10th, 2013
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In his new album “Home Stretch,” Timo Andres adapts–or is the word mauls?–some classic Mozart compositions

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Elliott Carter

July 3rd, 2013
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A collection of uncommonly whimsical music highlights a retrospective album of the late composer Elliott Carter. Norman Lebrecht listens, and smiles.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Paul Ben-Haim

June 26th, 2013
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A new album of the chamber music of one of Israel’s foremost composer’s, Paul Ben-Haim. Norman Lebrecht listens.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Chopin, Dutilleux

June 19th, 2013
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Chopin and Dutilleux: two composers, separated by a century and more, are joined by a city and its culture. Norman Lebrecht reviews a new album of their preludes.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Conrad Tao

June 12th, 2013
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One of EMI Classics’ final albums, by 19-year-old Conrad Tao, is an instant collectible. But how is the music?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Fairy Tales

June 5th, 2013
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A batch of bedtime stories, wickedly recited by top actors, interspersed with music derived from the selfsame fairy tales. Why had no one thought of this before?

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony

May 8th, 2013
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The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic brings forth a dazzling recording of Shostakovich’s “Leningrad Symphony”

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Valentin Silvestrov

May 1st, 2013
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Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov’s enigmatic and disturbing ‘Naive Music’ gets a new recording from pianist Elisaveta Blumina

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – The Edge of Light

April 24th, 2013
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Norman Lebrecht reviews a remarkable recording of little-known piano music by Olivier Messiaen and Kaija Saariaho

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Lionel Bringuier & Nelson Freire

April 19th, 2013
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In collaboration with Brazilian soloist Nelson Freire, Wunderkind Lionel Bringuier conducts the 2010 BBC Proms concert in a stirring new DVD release

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Béla Bartók: Kossuth

April 10th, 2013
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Norman Lebrecht reviews a new recording of Kossuth, a rare and distinctive turn by Béla Bartók into mainstream romanticism.

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Valentina Lisitsa

March 13th, 2013
Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Valentina Lisitsa

Youtube sensation Valentina Lisitsa has put out the finest recording of Rachmaninov’s piano concertos in decades. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Satie & Compagnie

February 27th, 2013
Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Satie & Compagnie

In a hypnotizing new recording from Mirare, pianist Anne Quéffélec performs the soothing chillout music of Frenchman Erik Satie–don’t listen while driving.

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – The Coral Sea

February 20th, 2013
Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – The Coral Sea

Six works by five living British composers for soprano saxophone – you’re shaking your head, but “The Coral Sea” is one of the musical delights of the year

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Scarlatti Illuminated

February 6th, 2013
Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Scarlatti Illuminated

Domenico Scarlatti has always been overshadowed by his contemporaries Bach and Handel. A new recording of his solo sonatas brings his gorgeous music front and center.

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Andrzej Panufnik

January 30th, 2013
Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Andrzej Panufnik

The works of Polish emigre Andrzej Panufnik course with passion and political subtext. Norman Lebrecht reviews a new recording of Symphonies 7 and 8.

CD of the Week – Dinu Lipatti

January 23rd, 2013
CD of the Week – Dinu Lipatti

Romanian pianist Dinu Lipatti died of cancer at age 33, but left behind a treasure trove of adventurous, intellectually satisfying piano music. Norman Lebrecht reviews a new double-CD of Lipatti’s work.

CD of the Week – Elgar, Carter: Cello Concertos

January 15th, 2013
CD of the Week – Elgar, Carter: Cello Concertos

Jacqueline du Pré’s performance of Elgar’s cello concerto is so legendary that few artists have dared to challenge it. Now Alisa Weilerstein does so, in an astonishing new recording. Norman Lebrecht reviews

CD of the Week – Alexandre Tharaud plays Mauricio Kagel

January 2nd, 2013
CD of the Week – Alexandre Tharaud plays Mauricio Kagel

2013 gets off to a smashing start with Alexandre Tharaud’s wild new recording of the works of postmodernist composer Mauricio Kagel. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Year

December 12th, 2012
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It’s been a bumper year for vocal recitals, but Norman Lebrecht has selected the best of the bunch–and the best album of 2012

CD of the Week – Voyages-Reisen

December 5th, 2012
CD of the Week – Voyages-Reisen

A compelling new recording of compositions for the viola da gamba, an ancestor of the cello, is just the antidote to predictable radio classical fare

CD of the Week – Fazil Say

November 28th, 2012
CD of the Week – Fazil Say

The embattled Turkish composer Fazil Say releases a symphony rooted in the sounds of his homeland. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

CD of the Week – The Irish Piano

November 21st, 2012
CD of the Week – The Irish Piano

Too little is known about the importance of Irish composer John Field on 19th century music. An exciting new CD brings his wide influence to light.

CD of the Week – Portuguese Love Songs

November 7th, 2012
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An English traveller once described the Portuguese love ballad as ‘the most seducing, the most voluptuous music imaginable.’ A new CD reminds of us its delights.

CD of the Week – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Recomposed

October 31st, 2012
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You may wonder if Vivaldi’s overexposed Four Seasons needs a new recording, but Max Richter’s inspired recomposition gives the hoary old favorite a shot in the arm

CD of the Week – Carl Nielsen

October 24th, 2012
CD of the Week – Carl Nielsen

New for classical music lovers is an invigorating recording of the symphonies of Danish composer Carl Nielsen, as well as a trio of dazzling piano recitals. As always, Norman Lebrecht reviews.

CD of the Week – Anu Komsi

October 17th, 2012
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Norman Lebrecht reviews a five-star recording from the extraordinary Finnish soprano Anu Komsi

CD of the Week – Glenn Gould: The Schwarzkopf Tapes

October 3rd, 2012
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The deeply unlikely pairing of pianist Glenn Gould and soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was deemed a flop when it took place in 1966–now some of the never-before-published recordings have come out, and they’re well worth the wait.

CD of the Week – Jon Lord

September 18th, 2012
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Jon Lord, the founder of Deep Purple, brings out a concerto that fuses elements of classical music, rock, and ballad singing. Norman Lebrecht reviews the results.

CD of the Week – Stephen Hough

September 12th, 2012
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A CD of piano recitals dubbed “The French Album” stars an English pianist and includes pieces by Bach and Liszt. Norman Lebrecht sorts out the confusion.

CD of the Week: Bononcini

September 5th, 2012
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Norman Lebrecht reviews a new recording of the music of Handel’s contemporary Bononcini–but which Bononcini are we talking about? In addition are three notable CDs for John Cage’s centenary.

CD of the Week – Homage to Glenn Gould

August 29th, 2012
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Glenn Gould would have turned 80 next month; his legacy is celebrated with a diverse and sometimes instrumentally daring homage

CD of the Week – Nicola Benedetti

August 22nd, 2012
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Wunderkind violinist Nicola Benedetti delivers her best album to date with this thoughtful selection of concertos and film themes

CD of the Week – Clifford Curzon

August 8th, 2012
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A teeming new multi-volume box-set from Decca showcases the magisterial piano performances of Clifford Curzon

CD of the Week – Arnold Schoenberg’s Songs

August 1st, 2012
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Who knew that the avant-garde Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg wrote so many songs? They’re brought together in a revealing new four-disc collection.

CD of the Week – Beethoven’s Viola

July 24th, 2012
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Violas are the most overlooked of instruments, but not by Beethoven–an intriguing new release brings together his music for the violin’s deeper-voiced sibling

CD of the Week – Ernest Bloch’s Hebrew Rhapsody

July 18th, 2012
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Natalie Clein delivers an extraordinary performance of Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo, in a disc featuring other classic Jewish music. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

CD of the Week: Sounds of the 30s

June 27th, 2012
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The amazing duo of Stefano Bollani and Riccardo Chailly return with the inter-war music of Ravel, Stravinsky, Kurt Weill, and Victor de Sabata.

CD of the Week – Arias for Guadagni

June 20th, 2012
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In his CD of the Week recommendation, Norman Lebrecht discovers the brilliant exception to a rule, an aria recital disc worth buying

CD of the Week — Vivaldi’s Chamber Sonatas

June 13th, 2012
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Against all expectations arrives a fantastic new recording of Vivaldi’s sonatas, courtesy of L’Estravagante. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

CD of the Week — Nikolai Medtner

June 6th, 2012
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These rare recordings illuminate the valuable contributions of the Russian composer (and contemporary of Rachmaninov’s) Nikolai Medtner

CD of the Week: Schubert String Quartets

May 30th, 2012
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The Artemis Quartet brings forth a brilliant recording of Schubert’s string quartets 13, 14, and 15 — that plus three notable new releases of the music of Shostakovich

CDs of the Week: New Names at the Piano

May 23rd, 2012
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The steady rush of talented new pianists can be overwhelming. Norman Lebrecht helps locate the gold from the dross.

CD of the Week – A Rush of Mieczyslaw Weinbergs

May 16th, 2012
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Four new recordings celebrate the oft-forgotten Russian composer Mieczylaw Weinberg. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

CD of the Week – Philip Glass’s 9th Symphony

May 9th, 2012
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Philip Glass’s ninth symphony has some of the minimalist traits listeners will expect–but also a number of surprises

CD of the Week – Rachmaninov’s 5th Piano Concerto

May 2nd, 2012
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In a clever ploy to extend the copyright of Sergei Rachmaninov’s music, Alexander Warenberg has fiddled with the composer’s second symphony to create a so-called “fifth” piano concerto. Norman Lebrecht reviews the results.

CD of the Week – Elgar Conducts Elgar

April 25th, 2012
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Every conductor tries to locate the key to Edward Elgar’s famous compositions — a new release lets listeners hear how Elgar interpreted himself

CDs of the Week – Gustav Mahler

April 18th, 2012
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A year after the centennial of his death, Gustav Mahler is still inspiring interesting performances. Norman Lebrecht listens to five newly released recordings.

CD of the Week – Henryk Mikolaj Górecki: Totus Tuus

April 11th, 2012
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Music from the adventurous Polish composer Henryk Mikolaj Górecki finds a perfect match with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain.

CD of the Week – Anton Rubinstein: Persian Love Songs

April 4th, 2012
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19th-century Russian composer Anton Rubinstein has always been justifiably overshadowed by Tchaikovsky, but a new recording of his Persian music proves a surprising delight

CD of the Week – Elgar’s Cello Concerto

March 28th, 2012
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Norman Lebrecht spotlights a striking new recording of a piece that has eluded musicians for years, Edward Elgar’s cello concerto

CD of the Week – Brahms performed by friends and colleagues

March 21st, 2012
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Arbiter Records gathers together some remarkable archival rarities of Brahms recordings. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

CD of the Week – Erik Chisholm: Piano Concertos 1 & 2

March 14th, 2012
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Acquaint yourself with newly recorded Piano Concertos from the talented, eclectic, and little-known Scottish composer Erik Chisholm

CD of the Week – Renée Fleming: Poèmes

March 7th, 2012
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Renée Fleming sings “sensual French masterpieces” on a new album from Decca–but are the results as evocative as the billing?

CD of the Week – Debussy’s Clair de Lune

February 22nd, 2012
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The great Natalie Dessay is at her best in this recording of Claude Debussy’s early piano suites

CD of the Week – John Cage’s Complete Piano Music

February 15th, 2012
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A bursting box set contains all of the piano music from the iconoclastic American composer John Cage