I’ve written a bit more in depth on my background and experience HERE, but eventually felt that a reduced version of this article would serve to introduce new readers best to what they will find here.
I’ve loved music all my life, have listened (as my articles and reviews will show) to an extremely wide range of it since I was a child, and still have far-ranging tastes from klezmer, country blues, early jazz and old classical music going back to the Middle Ages up through the most advanced free jazz and modern classical pieces. And my interests have never stopped at just the music. When I’ve really liked a certain composer or performer, I try to find out as much as I can about them, their backgrounds, how they arrived at the music they created or played, and what made them tick as people as well as artists.
And in my musical journeys, I learned one important fact early on, that no two people hear music or musicians exactly the same way. The number of artists and composers one can agree on can probably be counted on the fingers of both hands, which really isn’t much when you consider the length and breadth of the musical spectrum, and the same goes for interpretive styles.
In addition to this, my opinions cannot be bought. Many have tried to buy me as a music reviewer over the past 47 years, including impresarios and at least three major magazines I’ve written for. None have succeeded, and that’s why I eventually went freelance. It wasn’t just that I resented them trying to buy favorable reviews from me, it’s that I resented the fact that all of them DO—and not just those three. Over the years I’ve discovered that ALL classical and jazz review publications try the same thing with their reviewers…which means that much of what you read as a positive excerpt from a review on artists’ websites is nothing more than paid advertising, and this practice went back to the time when I was a young woman just getting into jazz and classical music and was myself swayed by the purple prose that appeared for certain recordings and artists in High Fidelity and Stereo Review (and yes, even Gramophone).
I’ve also become more and more irritated with and bored by artists who refuse to play 20th and 21st century music, and in fact with earlier music in general. My CD collection spans four six-foot bookshelves, but remember that this includes jazz (which fills up most of the last bookshelf) along with classical music from all eras…and yes, some older music in alternative and multiple recordings. Frankly, there’s nothing that 95% of modern-day artists can say about the music of the past that hasn’t already been said by others before them, so why should I go out of my way to hear your version of a piece I have one to three outstanding recordings of? For a more thorough discussion of what I WON’T review, please read this statement.
So with all that in mind, I do hope that you enjoy what you read here. They express my opinions and mine only; I don’t pretend to speak for anyone else; but what you will discover here are frank, opinionated but balanced reviews of the recordings I review and the artist profiles I write.
A New Feature: Turkey of the Month
Since I have a new policy of only reviewing recordings or videos which are first-rate, some readers have asked me to make an occasional exception for the really bad ones. Thus I’m introducing a “Turkey of the Month” award for the one recording that month that’s so bad that I couldn’t let it go by without some comment.
I cannot promise that this will appear every month. Not all poor recordings are so bad that they deserve such a designation, and to be honest, I’m too old to spend too much time poking around to look for a real turkey every month, but if and when I find one, it will be reviewed this way.
And I don’t want to hear any complaints from friends of the artists or composers, the guy who wrote the liner notes, or the artists themselves. Just accept the fact that your recording is really, really, really bad and shouldn’t have been released. I’m entitled to my opinion based on nearly a half-century of reviewing, just as you are entitled to yours.
Check out my latest blog posts:
Joseph Summer’s Brilliant “Hamlet”
Carl Vine’s Piano Sonatas
Rihm’s Music for Cello
The ARUNDOSquintett Plays Modern Music
Fanny Mendelssohn’s Piano Music
Holmboe’s String Quartets, Vol. 2
More of Paganini’s Guitar Quartets
Nicholas Milton’s Fascinating Brahms
Korstick’s Superb Beethoven Concerti
Moncado Plays 20th Century Violin Sonatas
Emilie Mayer’s Piano Trios
The Linos Ensemble Plays Brahms
Gardiner’s Excellent “Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria”
The Lost Art of Frances Cole
Sergio Armaroli’s “Rib Music”
Boito’s “Nerone” on DVD at Last
More of Holmboe’s String Quartets
Juan Saiz’ “Pindio II”
Nurit Stark Plays 20th Century Music
Van Raat Plays Tan Dun
Josef Schelb’s Chamber Music
Or read THE PENGUIN’S GIRLFRIEND’S GUIDE TO CLASSICAL MUSIC: It’s thorough, it’s free, and it’s interactive, with many links to the performances I recommend!
You’ll love it! Or you won’t!
My thanks to classical activist Garrett McQueen for mentioning me and my blog on his 10/27/2021 “Trilloquy” podcast!
For links to older blog posts (beginning March 2016) click HERE
Follow me on Twitter (as Art Music Lounge) or Facebook (as Monique Musique)!
Read the Art Music Lounge’s Third Annual Record Awards:
“What a Performance!” 2021
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Contact me at artmusiclady(at)outlook .com
*****OR READ ONE OF MY BOOKS FOR FREE!*****
Possibly the best book you’ll ever read on the history and interaction of classical music and jazz!
My 2006 book on the history of recording and its relationship to art music, jazz and classical.
A critical assessment of the man I consider the greatest tenor of the second half of the 20th century, along with a nearly complete survey of his work on studio recordings, live broadcasts and videos. If you’re a Vickers fan, I think you’ll enjoy it very much!
An approach to Arturo Toscanini’s conducting style and musicianship in a different light. Feedback appreciated. Now complete through my final posting, “The Toscanini Recordings – 2,” including a facsimile of the 1950 NBC Symphony-Toscanini Tour Booklet.
Other sites of wonder to discover:
The Opera Scribe
Jazz in Europe
Jazz Profiles (Gary Giddins)
The Music Parlour – Historical Releases
Composer Charles Ruggiero
Jazz Radio Network
WWFM Classical Streaming
Jazzbreak (many sound clips & videos available here)
John Todaro Photography