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.

alnum covers of sharon isbin music

August 18, 2020

John Pitman Review: Guitarist Sharon Isbin

Following soon on the heels of her recording with Pacifica Quartet (Souvenirs of Spain and Italy), American guitarist Sharon Isbin has been keeping busy talking about not one, but two new recordings: Affinity, and Strings for Peace. The former is a showcase of works written for Isbin by composers from all around the world. Affinity... More

photo of album cover handel

July 8, 2020

John Pitman Review: Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, at 25, has already made a strong impression in the world of Baroque opera and beyond, with his powerful yet supple voice. The American countertenor, who has made several recordings (including contemporary music, such as by Kenneth Fuchs), specializes in 18th-century music when the male singer known as the Castrato reigned supreme.... More

photo of caroline shaw and Anne Sofie Von Otter

June 25, 2020

John Pitman Review: Is A Rose, Anne Sofie Von Otter and Caroline Shaw

Host John Pitman chats with the great Swedish mezzo-soprano, Anne Sofie Von Otter about her performance of a new work by American composer, Caroline Shaw.  Title “Is a Rose”, the three-movement song cycle is sung by Von Otter with San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, as Shaw has written the work with Baroque ensembles – and... More

photo of man playing violin

June 2, 2020

John Pitman Review: Violins of Hope, Niv Ashkenazi

Violinist Niv Ashkenazi plays one of a handful of restored violins that survived the Holocaust, and his debut recording, “Violins of Hope” (Albany Records) is a document of the perseverance of the instruments’ original owners. Mr. Ashkenazi, along with pianist and fellow Juillard student, pianist Matthew Graybil, breathe life into music that, in some cases,... More

shadow of man

May 8, 2020

John Pitman Review: Donald Nally talks about Anonymous Man

Donald Nally is the artistic director of one of this country’s most adventurous and creative choirs, The Crossing. John Pitman talks to the conductor about Michael Gordon’s Anonymous Man, a 65-minute choral work in 7 movements, which is a memoir of Gordon’s life with his family on Desbrosses Street in lower Manhattan in the 1980s.... More

black and white photo of man at piano

April 13, 2020

John Pitman Review: Benjamin Grosvenor, Chopin Piano Concertos

British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor grew up with Chopin.  He shares with John Pitman that “my first love at the piano…was Chopin.”  In his newest recording for Decca, Mr. Grosvenor explores Chopin’s piano concertos, one of which includes a sort of musical love note by the young composer to a singer that he admired. In the... More

chamber musicians in denim outfits

March 26, 2020

John Pitman Review: Miró Quartet complete their Beethoven cycle

The Miró Quartet, who visited Portland in February hosted by Chamber Music NW, is celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth with the release of the complete string quartets.  They began around 2005 with the Opus 18 (Beethoven’s first published set), recording them at the same age the composer was when he wrote them, in other... More

photo of man looking at camera with black background

February 12, 2020

John Pitman Review: Jonathan Biss completes Beethoven journey

As a part of the celebrations this year of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig Van Beethoven, program director John Pitman is interviewing some of today’s top artists involved in the newest recordings of his music. American pianist Jonathan Biss has just completed a 9-year journey exploring the piano sonatas of Ludwig Van Beethoven.... More

gray traintracks with silenced voices in text

January 23, 2020

John Pitman Review: Silenced Voices

String Trio debuts with “Silenced Voices” (Black Oak Ensemble) 2020 (specifically, January 27) marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the WWII concentration camp that is symbolic of the persecution and murder of millions of Jews and other groups by the Nazi regime.  In addition to the handful of people who survived the... More

man with guitar case looking away from camera

January 10, 2020

John Pitman Review: Sound of Silence, Miloš returns

The Montenegro-born guitarist Miloš has just released his fifth album, and the first in about 3 years. Sound of Silence (Decca) is, in a way, autobiographical: in 2016, just after the release of his Beatles-inspired disc, Blackbird, Miloš began experiencing a tightness in his hand that affected his ability to play. He eventually stepped away... More