Acoustic Sounds

Music Reviews: Classical

March 14th, 2023

A Sonically Spectacular Percussion Record Worth Repeated Plays

compositions by Lou Harrison and Steve Reich plus a world premier co-commissioned by the Ensemble

By: Michael Fremer

Recorded during the same 2011 and 2012 Zipper Hall, Los Angeles sessions that produced the remarkable percussion record “Smoke & Mirrors” (Yarlung 17255-195V), “Earth & Wood” is another sonic spectacular recorded directly to tape using a single AKG C24 stereo microphone (with Elliot Midwood mic amplification). The one-mike recording technique required “just so” placement of both it and the seven member Smoke and Mirrors Percussion Ensemble that performed the... Read More

January 13th, 2023

Hilary Hahn Returns to the Stage with "Eclipse"

Hahn's first recording after nearly two years away features two war horses and a challenging hidden gem

By: Michael Johnson

In 2019, Hilary Hahn, one of the world’s leading violin virtuosos, announced she would be taking a one-year performing sabbatical. Little did she know, that period of time would see a prolongment of several months due to factors outside of her control. Her triumphant return to the concert hall in the spring of 2021 was an emotional experience for her, and from those first few concert programs back, we now have a new double LP set of recordings, her latest release on... Read More

genre Classical format Vinyl

January 2nd, 2023

A Musically Satisfying Mendelssohn Octet in E Flat Major Demo Disc From Chasing the Dragon

lets you compare analog vs. digital, 33 1/3 vs, 45, 1/2 speed to normal, tube vs. transistor mics

By: Michael Fremer

Mendelssohn completed his Octet in E Flat Major when he was 16 years old. Good thing he started composing brilliant pieces while young because he was dead at 38. After completing the piece, dedicated to his violin teacher Eduard Rietz, Mendelssohn gave him the score as a birthday present on October 17, 1825. Rietz copied out all of the parts and it was quickly performed in an informal family gathering. Rietz lived an even shorter life. Tuberculosis got him at age 30.... Read More

October 9th, 2022

Mahler–Complete Symphonies by Leonard Bernstein

DG resurrects the conductor that resurrected Mahler

By: Michael Johnson

The first time I ever saw a Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) symphony on my music stand, I was an 18-year-old student at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was the Symphony No. 1 in D Major (sometimes subtitled “Titan”) and I was tasked with playing the delicate low English horn notes in the opening measures. From that point on Gustav Mahler’s orchestral works would hold a special place in my musical growth, heralding the finale concerts of various... Read More

genre Classical format Vinyl

September 16th, 2022

Rachel's' 'Music For Egon Schiele' Floats Above Cliche

From the archives: You’ll feel this the first play and you’ll play it repeatedly

By: Michael Fremer

(This review originally appeared in Issue 7, Spring 1996.)Rachel’s’ 1995 release Handwriting LP (Quarterstick 30 LP) is on my top 10 of ‘95 list and this enchanting record may end up on the ‘96 list. The music here was composed by pianist Rachel Grimes for a dance and theater piece based on the life of turn of the century Viennese painter Egon Schiele.The stage work was written and directed by Stephan Mazurek for Chicago’s Itinerant Theater Guild, which he heads. The... Read More