Neruda Songs

In recapping the year that was 2006, most took another moment to remember the life and career of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. It’s almost too bittersweet to have this recording of Peter Lieberson’s music which he built on five of Neruda’s love sonnets as a gift for the woman he loved. Even if you come to […]


A couple of months ago, my wife and I were celebrating an anniversary with a meal at Petrossian’s, an extremely fancy Russian restaurant normally way out of our price range. So we were definitely not in our usual element. Well, not quite. Our waiter turned out to be an emerging composer. I just can’t escape […]

Tube Mouth Bow String

Sirius String Quartet How do you make an awesome drone? Start with the ingredients: Tube, mouth, bow, string. Turns out this very recipe shares its name with the title track of Nick Didkovsky’s latest CD. Here’s how to put everything together: Take a sting quartet and amplify the sound of each individual instrument. Send the […]

The Blue Cloak

There is a lot I could say about Applebaum’s The Blue Cloak, but no matter why you want to hear this piece, you’ll definitely want to hear the mouseketier, “an original electroacoustic sound-sculpture, a musical Frankenstein made of junk, hardware, and found objects—threaded rods, nails, springs, doorstops, Astroturf, steel wheels, bronze braising rod, ratchets, etc.—that […]

Piece in the Shape of a Square

Manuel Zurria, flutes I’ve been a rabid fan of Philip Glass’s early austere minimalist pieces from the late ’60s and early ’70s since I was in high school, but while pieces like Music in Similar Motion almost never left my turntable (much to the chagrin of the rest of my family), others were just names […]

Black Angels

Cuarteto Latinoamericano; members of the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic; Juan Pablo Izquierdo, conductor George Crumb’s amplified, hardcore classic Black Angels is already tough as nails. However, in hopes of giving it a new edge, or maybe just jumping on the Metallica bandwagon, conductor Juan Pablo Izquierdo convinced the composer to allow him take a stab at […]

Scorn not the Sonnet

Victoria Hansen, soprano; The Bowed Piano Ensemble People already familiar with the mysterious and surreal New Albion recordings of Stephen Scott’s music know that his Colorado College-based Bowed Piano Ensemble is something of a misnomer. What began as a group of Scott’s students venturing inside a grand piano with lollipop stick-sized violin bows has morphed […]


Approaching improvised music from a decidedly classical vantage point, Jeffrey Agrell (horn) and Evan Mazunik (piano) seamlessly weave together semi-notated passages and stretches of improvisation into pieces that fuse the musicians’ grasp on chord scales and species counterpoint. The album’s title track, Repercussions, displays the elision between genres, keeping things on the buoyant side and […]

Piano Sonata in C Major K545

If you thought the “Mozart Anniversary Year” that seemed it would never end had finally, well, ended and that you were out of the woods, I say “Ha!” And so, apparently—with a wink and nod—does Uri Caine. And he’s not shy about it. Starting with the deified one’s greatest hits, Caine and his ensemble play […]

The Palatine Building

Okay, so why isn’t Theo Bleckmann a rock star? Aside from the stuff he’s done under his own name, his contributions to Phil Kline’s Zippo Songs and the Bang on a Can triumvirate’s Carbon Copy Building make a really strong case for his status as pop-level icon. Yeah, I know I’ve got funny ears. But […]