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, [...]

New American Classics

  Last month, I was celebrating the Naxos American Classics release of Vittorio Giannini's Piano Concerto and his Symphony No. 4. When I pleaded that Naxos consider recording the other six symphonies, I had forgotten that Naxos has already released Giannini's Symphony No. 3 (1958), so it has only five to go. The Third Symphony [...]

Music and Meaning

    Before starting any reviews this month, I must exercise (or is it exorcise?) my ire. The Economist magazine offered a December cover story, "Why Music?" that requires comment. The piece asks, "What exactly is it for?" Given the article's art work -- drawings of half-naked women emanating from the brain of a rock [...]

Music, Right Through the Bone

Here I am, staggering under a load of great new recordings, with no relief in sight. I can only hope it gets worse, which it promises to do: Enterprising CD labels are reissuing classic recordings and exploring new repertory at almost exponential rates. I must resort to staccato-style reviews to plow ahead.   First, a [...]

Ring Out the Old, Bring In the New

As we prepare our farewell to Anno Domini 2008, I reflect back on some things that gave me great pleasure and on some new discoveries from this year. Although my appetite for obscure composers and compositions is insatiable, I want readers to know that I do revisit the classic repertory as often as I can, [...]

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 [...]

The Ten Greatest Musical Recordings

  In the recent Gramophone magazine awards issue, their critics undertake the "hunt for the Gold Disc: the greatest recording since CDs began." They have narrowed it down to ten. Okay, I thought, I can do that too. Therefore, I offer my very eclectic list of what I think are the ten greatest recordings. I [...]

Musical Diary

  At the annual fundraising dinner of the Morley Institute, the sponsor of InsideCatholic and the late Crisis magazine, I have sometimes been asked by polite guests if my work as a music critic is full-time. I have smiled painfully and said, "No," usually without revealing my day job as a warmonger at the Defense [...]

The Supremacy of Classical Music

Over the past few days, three of our writers have offered lighter reflections on why they prefer a given genre of music -- Rock, Showtunes, and Classical. We conclude with Classical Music. ♦ ♦ ♦ Classical music is the greatest music. This assertion is not based upon my preference or opinion; it is as much [...]

A Grand Night for Singing: Why I Love Showtunes

    Over the next few days, three of our writers will offer lighter reflections on why they prefer a given genre of music -- Rock, Showtunes, and Classical.   We continue today with Showtunes.     ♦ ♦ ♦     It is said we love the music of our youth. No doubt we [...]

Still Rock and Roll to Me

  Over the next few days, three of our writers will offer lighter reflections on why they prefer a given genre of music -- Rock, Broadway, and Classical.   We begin today with Rock and Roll.     ♦ ♦ ♦   My childhood was marinated in the thunder of Beethoven, the depth of Mozart, [...]

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 [...]

A Diva’s Sentiments

  Some time ago, I happened to hear a recital by one of the great Metropolitan Opera mezzo-sopranos. Opera lovers will know her name well. When my wife and I lived in New York, she was one of our favorites at the Met.   The nice thing about a recital like this is that you [...]

Spring Floods

  Spending three of the last four months on American music has meant that I have become derelict in bringing a flood of superb new releases to your attention this spring. I also failed to fulfill my promise to cover other American composers whose works are also part of the good news, like Peter Lieberson, [...]

A Catholic Composer to Watch…

Eric Genuis is a composer, performer, and conductor on a mission to save the culture from the destructive effects of bad music. Like the philosophers of ancient Greece, Genuis believes music shapes our character, and worries that "young people are damaged by popular music before they become adults." His solution is to make good music [...]

The Italian Concerto

  Very often, if my wife is out doing errands in the middle of the day, I will make up my lunch on a tray and carry it into my study. There I can put a CD on my portable player -- it is the only system I have, and it sits in a shelf [...]

The Pope’s Music

  This month I must reflect on a phone call I received from an old and discerning friend who was extremely upset over the music used at the papal Mass in Washington on April 17, and on a note another friend sent saying, "It was as if the Washington, D.C., crowd were pleasing themselves and [...]

New American Classical Music

  As promised, I will end this trilogy on American classical music (see the previous January and February installments) by covering some of the recent releases of works by composers of whom you have probably never heard. I believe their music demonstrates what I have contended in my last two missives: that American music has [...]

More on American Classical Music

  Last month, I began talking about modern American classical music. The impetus was the new releases in the stellar Naxos American Classics series, as well as some other new CDs of American music. As I said, I doubt that many readers will have heard of many of the composers. I spent most of the [...]