CD Music Reviews

CD Music Reviews for the Audiophile – March, 2010

Singer/songwriter Yasmin Levy has built an estimable reputation as a champion of Ladino music, the ancient music of the Sephardic Jews of Spain. Singing Ladino, Beduin, and original Ladino-like songs, sometimes imbued with Turkish or Flamenco influences, Levy is on a mission to preserve and promote a language and culture facing extinction.

December CD Reviews for the Audiophile – Holiday Recordings to Savor – Part II

It's that time again, boys and girls. Santa, egg nog, menorahs, craziness, last-minute shopping, and empty bank accounts to ring in the New Year. You're going to need some good music to get through it all, and even more to entertain family and friends. Whatever your family situation, if you're looking for music appropriate to the holidays, you need look no further. There are some really goodies in the list of mostly new releases that follows. Enjoy!

December CD Reviews for the Audiophile – Holiday Recordings to Savor – Part I

Esperanza, founded by the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia in 1987, works to “bring a sustained response of hope to the barrio.” To raise funds for their work, they've put together this Christmas compilation with performances by Marcos Witt, Alejandro Sanz, Miguel Angel Guerra, Jose Carreras, Santana, and others. Michelle Bonilla sings quite the “O Holy Night.” The sound quality of the transfers leaves something to be desired, but the joy this will bring to its target audience is great.

CD/DVD Reviews – November 2009

Chromatic gales, emotion-churning dissonances, and vocal writing so torturous it makes you wonder if the all-star cast is composed of masochists: such is the score for composer Thomas Adès and librettist Meredith Oakes' three-act opera, The Tempest. Based on Shakespeare's eponymous play, it was commissioned by the Royal Opera Covent Garden, where it was premiered in February 2004 under the baton of then 32-year old Adès.



CD Reviews – September, 2009

This striking, eponymously titled album from singer/songwriter Christina Courtin introduces an enigmatic, deep-thinking artist who first disarms you, then ropes you in. Courtin's seductive, little girl voice comes off as almost naïve in the opening track, “Green Jay,” but turns surprisingly dark and pleading in “Laconia.”

CD Reviews – August, 2009

Why did we have to wait until after Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's passing to receive so many live, un-doctored documents of her greatness? The live 2004 Ravinia performance of her husband Peter Lieberson's Rilke Songs (Bridge) was the first to arrive after the San Francisco-born mezzo died of cancer on July 3, 2006 at age 52. Then came her November 2005 live performance of Lieberson's Neruda Songs (Nonesuch).

CD Reviews – May, 2009

In 2004, Grammy winning producer/engineer Mark Johnson was strolling down the streets of Santa Monica when he heard musician Roger Ridley singing “Stand by Me” from afar. Six years after he and a small, dedicated team of videographers began traveling the world to find ways to connect the world through music, Johnson heard the voice whose passion and conviction transformed his vision. He soon combined Ridley's rendition with others from around the world, creating the extraordinary YouTube world journey video of “Stand by Me” that has generated over seven million hits.

Music Reviews – March, 2009

This is fantastic stuff. Play the first track, Horace Silver's “Strollin',” and you're immediately catapulted into the bebop past, where movies are as black and white as the album cover. Mostly recorded on April 30, 2001, during the Jarrett/Peacock/DeJohnette Trio's historic gig in Metropolitan Festival Hall in Tokyo, pianist Keith Jarrett, double bassist Gary Peacock, and drummer Jack DeJohnette are in swinging form. Listen to them cut loose for nine minutes on Charlie Parker's “Scrapple from the Apple.” The occasional verbal exclamations are hardly gratuitous â€" these boys are flying. Presumably they were just high on life.

Holiday Music Reviews – December, 2008

Gloom is banished with this delightful collection of Leroy Anderson's holiday music. While some dismiss the American composer's achievements as second-rate, there's no question that classics such as “Sleigh Ride” and “Suite of Carols for Brass Choir” speak with irresistible color and sonority.

Music Reviews – November, 2008

It's easy to dismiss Bach's six Brandenburg Concertos assonic wallpaper. Their presence on classical FM, internet radio, iTunes, andconcert programs around the world is virtually as ubiquitous as Vivaldi'snot-always-evergreen Four Seasons. Most recordings, however, are dismayingly routine, with modern instrument players sawing and blowing away as if executing these babies was just another gig on the calendar.

Hold on to your harpsichord, partner. If you think you know Bach's six Brandenburg Concertos inside and out, take a listen to this award-winning two-CD set.

Music Reviews – July, 2008


Exquisite is a word I once reserved for the subtle beauties of classical song. Then I began to listen to ECM Grammy Award-winning producer Manfred Eicher's jazz recordings, and my perspective changed. I can't vouch for yours, but I feel confident that the rarefied atmosphere of opening five trackson this CD may very well take your breath away. And that includes the trio's cover of Prince's 1991 "Diamonds and Pearls," as well as sublime renditions of music by Gary Peacock, Ennio Morricone, contemporary trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, and pianist / trio founder Marcin Wasilewski.