Jason Victor Serinus

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 02, 2018  |  33 comments
Why the title, "Prokofiev for Two and a Half," for a Deutsche Grammophon recording on which Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan play Babayan's two-piano transcriptions of music from Prokofiev's ballet Romeo & Juliet and four of his operas? Because any recording that features the outsized pianism of the great Argerich immediately becomes one of extraordinary importance for artistic resources that are inherently doubled by at least 50%.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 24, 2018  |  2 comments
Soprano/composer Patrice Michaels with Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Glimmerglass in 2016

First there was the epithet, "Notorious RBG," which NYC law student Shana Knizhnik coined in 2013 (in a sly riff on the name of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's fellow Brooklynite and rapper, The Notorious B.I.G.) as the name of her Tumblr site. Then came Derrick Wang's, Scalia/Ginsburg, an opera based on the odd-bedfellows friendship of two SCOTUS justices and opera lovers from opposite sides of the political spectrum, Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. This year has already brought the next two artistic steps in the process of honoring the 85-year old Supreme Court justice: the documentary RBG and, from Cedille Records, Notorious RBG in Song.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 20, 2018  |  18 comments
Twenty-five years after the premiere of John Adams' Violin Concerto, the music remains as vital, exhilarating, and strangely moving as the day it was birthed. An extremely demanding work, its three contrasting movements present a triathlon challenge of sorts to anyone who dares try to play them.

Here, she who rises to the challenge is violinist Leila Josefowicz. Provocatively pictured on the CD cover as a curious cross between an athlete in repose and Rodin's reflective thinker...

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 18, 2018  |  10 comments
If the two works on this recording, Xenakis's Psappha (1975) and Feldman's The King of Denmark (1964), aren't exactly new, their construction and sound are radical in the extreme.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 10, 2018  |  20 comments
Why should you or anyone care about a 24/192 download reissue of recordings of two Mahler song cycles that were made in Vienna and New York in 1968 by conductor Leonard Bernstein and three of his favorite singers, mezzo Christa Ludwig, her bass-baritone husband Walter Berry, and baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau? After all, the recordings are "old" and the music much older, all but one of the artists is dead, the language is German, and the reissue lacks lyrics and translations . . .
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 02, 2018  |  8 comments
There is music so unique, so colorful, and so potentially challenging for the casual listener that words like "pretty" or "entertaining" go flying out the window. Such is the case with pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard's mind-boggling recording of Olivier Messiaen's (1908–1992) Catalogue d'Oiseaux. Anything but background music for a relaxed evening by the fire or in the hot tub, the Catalogue consists of 13 extended odes for solo piano, each of which was inspired by a different bird species. Recorded by Pentatone in 24/96 hi-rez stereo and surround in the famous Saal 1, Funkhaus, Nalepastrasse, Berlin, and issued as a three-disc SACD set (PTC 5186 670), the box includes a bonus DVD on which Aimard, a professor at the Hochschule Köln, discusses the pieces at length and offers insights into Messiaen the man and composer.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 27, 2018  |  21 comments
Two of America's finest baroque musicians, flutist Stephen Schultz and harpsichordist Jory Vinikour, have teamed up to record J.S. Bach: Sonatas for Flute and Harpsichord (Music & Arts). Available in both CD and hi-rez 24/96 formats, this sparkling collection of four sonatas was recorded in Skywalker Sound's "The Scoring Stage," whose variable acoustics were adjusted for maximum reverberation by Jack Vad (recording engineer and producer of San Francisco Symphony's recordings) and Dann Thompson (one of the in-house engineers at Skywalker).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 20, 2018  |  8 comments
Less than a minute into this rare realization of the Leçons de Ténèbres des Mercredi, Jeudi et Vendredi saints by Michel Lambert (ca 1610–1696), I knew I had to review it. Recorded for Harmonia Mundi in 24/88.2 hi-rez by Alban Moraud, who did a wonderful job capturing the resonant acoustic of La Courroie, Entraigues-sur-la-Sorgue, the 2-CD/51-track set showcases the extraordinarily agile, virtually vibrato-less and intentionally nasal bari-tenor of Marc Mauillon.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 09, 2018  |  4 comments
In this 100th anniversary year of the death of Claude Debussy (1862–1918), one of the finest recordings of his music released so far is Erato's Debussy Sonatas & Trios (Erato C565142). Appropriately recorded in Paris, in two different sounding venues, with an all-star French lineup—Emmanuel Pahud, flute; Gerard Caussé, viola; Edgar Moreau, cello; Marie-Pierre Langlamet, harp; and Bertrand Chamayou, piano—the recording is replete with the unique atmosphere, color, and textures that make Debussy's music so unforgettable.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2018  |  0 comments
Cellist Antonio Lysy, whose Yarlung Records recording Antonio Lysy at the Broad won a Latin Grammy for its inclusion of Lalo Schifrin's song "Pampas," has returned with a unique recording of South American-connected compositions and arrangements. Aptly titled South America (YAR80167DSD), the nine compositions honor Astor Piazzolla, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Carlos Gardel, Antonio's violinist father Alberto Lysy, and Argentine bandoneon master Coco Trivisonno. There's even some Brazilian-tinged J.S. Bach and a work by Spanish cellist Pablo Casals.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 21, 2018  |  18 comments
"Why should I bother with yet another recording of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons?" you may ask. "There are already 226 entries for it at arkivmusic.com!"

Because baroque violinist Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque's new, period instrument Channel Classics SACD of Le Quattro Stagioni and three other violin concertos by Vivaldi is likely the freshest, most joy-filled, and best-recorded of the bunch.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 08, 2018  |  4 comments
My excitement upon discovering the heretofore unavailable two-CD set, Régine Crespin: Rare Broadcast Recordings, in the catalog of historical performance specialist Norbeck Peters & Ford can only be partially conveyed through words. Crespin's London/Decca studio recordings of Berlioz's Les Nuits d'été and Ravel's Shéhérazade, accompanied by Ernest Ansermet et L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, which were captured in Victoria Hall, Geneva in September 1963, have long been coveted by audiophiles for both their sound quality and Crespin's incomparable artistry. The opportunity to hear the same two French song cycles, delivered with the extra frisson and interpretive touches that great singers share in live performance, in a collection that also includes other live and rarely encountered studio performances by Crespin, is not to be missed.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 01, 2018  |  7 comments
It is doubtful that pianist Alexander Melnikov had audiophiles in mind when he decided to record great works by Schubert, Chopin, Liszt, and Stravinsky on pianos the composers were accustomed to hearing and playing at the time of composition. Melnikov is, after all, an early music specialist who, like András Schiff, has a number of impeccably restored historic instruments in his personal collection. Nonetheless, given that Harmonia Mundi has recorded him in high resolution (24/96), seemingly without compression, in the fine acoustic of Teldex Studio Berlin, and that each instrument has a sound and dynamic range distinctly its own, the recording is an audiophile must-have.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Mar 30, 2018  |  3 comments
Why review another recording of Stravinsky's great ballet score for the 1913 season of Diaghilev's Ballet Russes, Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring)? Besides the fact that it's a fabulous performance, it's part of a disc that: 1) showcases one of our most renowned conductors, Riccardo Chailly, leading the superb Lucerne Festival Orchestra; 2) includes the world premiere recording of Stravinsky's long-lost 11-minute Chant Funèbre, Op.5 (1908), a tribute to his late teacher, Rimsky-Korsakov, which disappeared after its first performance at a memorial concert in St. Petersburg in 1909 and was only re-discovered in 2015; and 3) places Rite in the context of that early work and three that preceded it, thereby affording a long view of Stravinsky's path to first bloom artistic maturity.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Mar 18, 2018  |  26 comments
Back in October 2016, I was called to the table by Kal Rubinson when I heaped copious praise on Ivan Fischer's Channel Classics SACD of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No.6 in b, Op.74, "Pathétique." Now, after hearing Teodor Currentzis' devastating account for Sony of the Pathétique with Russia's MusicAeterna Orchestra, I understand the folly of my ways.

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