We’re Ignoring a Root Cause of Our Problems

The single greatest contributor to our social pathologies such as addiction, mental illness, suicide, and violent crime is the breakdown of marriage and the family.

Fall into Chamber Music

A chill in the air, crackling leaves, and a roaring fireplace put me in mind of chamber music for some reason -- perhaps because it is an interior art. Is it the cold that prepares one for a period of introspection? Chamber music is the art of introspection in sound. In any case, it is [...]

What I Do, and Why

What do I do as a music critic? Why do I do it? Perhaps these are questions you have never posed yourself. The more selfless reader, however, might have wondered exactly how I occupy myself in order to come up with the musical selections I present each month. I have been doing this for Crisis [...]

2010 in Music

It's a race to the finish of 2010 to bring you the fruits of this year before it ends. Brevity, be by my side and slay the demon logorrhea. Here, in brief, are treasures. The Classical era is my favorite for its balance and grace, but what can be new from this period? Haven't we [...]

Playing Catch-Up

Catching up is hard to do. It reduces me to elliptical reviews of new CDs, the merit of which you must accept from a few brushstrokes of praise from me, as space -- even in this medium -- does not allow for more. Therefore, this is a matter of trust and taste. By the latter, [...]

Summer Potpourri

There is much to catch up on for your summer listening pleasure. Faithful readers will recall how often I choose the Classical period for musical refreshment. And so it is again with the Symphonies Op. 3, Nos. 1-4 of Franz Ignaz Beck (1734-1809) on a new budget Naxos release (8.570799). I seemed to recall an [...]

Hidden Melodies

When the history of 20th-century music is written in the next several hundred years, will it bear much resemblance to how we think of it now? I have long suspected that there is a hidden history of classical music during this period that would one day surface. I tried to write part of it in [...]

From Classical to No-Later-than-Late Romantic

   As is happily the norm, I am inundated with CD releases that demand your attention. The music spans the 18th to the 20th centuries, so I shall proceed chronologically, having no other principle of organization at hand. This way you can simply skip the centuries you deplore and get to the good stuff. (That [...]

Summer Listening List

  This month's column is more of a list than a series of reviews. I mean to arm you with unassailable enjoyment for the lazy, sunny season. If only I can control my logorrhea!   Faithful readers may recall that I was somewhat put off by Charles Mackerras's unrelenting breakneck speeds in his traversal of [...]

Spring Symphonies

  I am drowning in a flood of delightful new releases that will enrich your spring listening. However, this month I will concentrate on several outstanding 20th-century symphonic cycles.   First, a complete set of Rued Langgaard's 16 symphonies on the Dacapo label in wonderful sound, with gripping performances by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, [...]

Musique d’Automne

  This month, I will spare readers an entry from my musical diary because I have posted elsewhere my reviews of the two wonderful operas I saw this fall in San Francisco -- Boris Godunov and Idomeneo – and a marvelous chamber music concert with the Takacs Quartet here in Washington.   Instead, I will [...]

More Summer Sounds

  Last month I began a look at the flood of fantastic summer releases, which only confirms for me that we are indeed in a golden age of recording. This month I'll pick up where we left off.   Three new CPO releases convince me that only now are we getting a fuller glimpse of [...]

Summer Sounds

Storms are not the only things that have been flooding the United States this summer. There has been a deluge of wonderful classical music CD releases. I aver that this time -- our time -- will go down as the golden age of recording. The riches are unbelievable. It's not simply that I am now [...]

Christmas Stocking

  All I want for Christmas is more CDs.   Let me qualify that request, as piles of unplayed material accumulate in my study, my family room, my bedroom, my briefcase, and my car. Defying the "death of classical music" predictions, there have been some 1,500 CD releases yearly -- and bargains abound. When I [...]

Fall Harvest

  A round of ritual lamentations on the demise of the classical music recording industry has ushered in yet another bountiful fall harvest of CDs. In fact, according to Newsweek, while overall music sales declined by 5 percent last year, classical music sales grew by 22 percent. A large part of that astonishing figure apparently [...]