March 01, 2017

John Pitman’s CD Reviews blog spotlights recent recordings of classical music. As the music director, John auditions dozens of new releases every month, focusing on titles that stand out in terms of performance, repertoire or recording quality.

February 6, 2017

Benjamin Grosvenor’s “Homages”

The young British pianist, Benjamin Grosvenor, is an artist whose recordings have featured in All Classical Portland’s programming for the past few years. “Dances” was a disc that make a creative connection between such disparate styles and eras as Bach and Granados. “Homages”, Mr. Grosvenor’s newest, also extends a hand across the centuries, but some... More

January 10, 2017

Tchaikovsky is conductor’s “Beloved Friend”

Being Russian, conductor Semyon Bychkov seems naturally to be drawn to the music of his countrymen, including Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. However, the maestro would argue that Tchaikovsky’s music is everyone’s music. While the Tchaikovsky Project that Mr. Bychkov has just launched has personal meaning for the conductor, and is embarking on this multi-year, multimedia endeavor... More

December 13, 2016

Kirill Gerstein offers Transcendental Liszt

Pianist Kirill Gerstein, a favorite of Portland audiences for his orchestral and solo recital appearances, has just released a CD that illustrates both the pianist’s abilities and those of the composer of these works.  Franz Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes simultaneously pay homage to his good friend Chopin (Etudes, Opp. 10 and 25), and Bach, while propelling... More

December 1, 2016

Ginastera turns 100 (Yolanda Kondonassis and the Harp Concerto)

“Beauty is the emergence of a spiritual climate in which each artist is transfigured through the impulse of creation. It becomes universal” – Alberto Ginastera Last year, American harpist Yolanda Kondonassis brought Alberto Ginastera’s Harp Concerto, Opus 25 to Portland, when she performed it with the Oregon Symphony. Recently, as part of the centennial of... More

November 17, 2016

America Again: Lara Downes explores the fabric of the nation in music

When Lara Downes crafts a recording, she explores not just themes in music, but meanings and expressions.  In my conversation with Lara, America Again was prompted by one of the many shootings that took place earlier this year, and so she put aside the project she’d been working on, to reconnect with America, its music,... More

November 2, 2016

Words Fail: Violinist Yevgeny Kutik

I was only recently introduced to Yevgeny Kutik, yet the Belarus-born violinist is up to his third CD already, with Words Fail (Marquis Classics). Mr. Kutik’s earlier releases focus in large part on Russian repertoire. What I discovered is a passionate musician with a warm, expressive tone in his playing which is perfectly suited to the... More

October 5, 2016

Matt Haimovitz plays “Overtures to Bach”

Cellist Matt Haimovitz, who started his career nearly 30 years ago on the DG label, recording the standard cello repertoire, soon broke out of that corner of classical music to seek a more personal journey. I recall, in the 1990s, interviewing Matt as he was about to head out across the country, with CDs in... More

September 26, 2016

Joshua Bell plays “For the Love of Brahms”

Joshua Bell’s newest CD is about friendship.  Friendship between Mr. Bell and his fellow musicians, who include British cellist Steven Isserlis, and American pianist Jeremy Denk, with whom Bell has performed and recorded many times; and friendship between the composers featured on the disc, Johannes Brahms and Joseph Joachim.  Completing the circle of friends are... More

September 12, 2016

Chiara Quartet play Bartok “By Heart”

Chiara in Italian means “clear”, “pure” or “light”.  These are apt words to describe the group’s sound, as well as their approach to string quartet repertoire.  The four have been together since their Juilliard days (more likely longer than that), and have several recordings under their belts already.  By now, you’ve probably wondered what “by... More

August 31, 2016

Jennifer Koh: Tchaikovsky’s complete works for violin and orchestra

Jennifer Koh is a name – and face, and sound – that should be familiar to many Oregon Symphony fans. One of her earliest appearances was in 2008, playing the Brahms concerto with the orchestra, and she’s since returned to perform the Dvorak and Bartok concertos. I had the pleasure of hearing her perform more... More