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.


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


green grass and violin

December 10, 2019

John Pitman Review: Violinist Margaret Batjer and the LA Philharmonic

Violinist Margaret Batjer has been associated with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra for a number of years. In their first CD for the Swedish BIS label, Batjer and the LACO begin with a new violin concerto by Quebec-born composer, Pierre Jalbert. With movements titled “Soulful, mysterious”, and “With great energy”, Jalbert’s concerto is in good... More


woman playing piano in white suit

November 18, 2019

John Pitman Review: Self-titled debut – Pianist Wei Luo

To introduce a pianist saying that he or she started lessons at the age of five is probably not going to raise eyebrows. However, to say that this particular pianist advanced at such a rate that she entered the Curtis Institute at age 13 is something that might catch notice. That’s the first part of... More


classical musicians in front of italian coast

November 4, 2019

John Pitman Review: Sharon Isbin’s “Souvenirs”

Guitarist Sharon Isbin has recorded nearly everything in her instrument’s repertoire. Still, it’s refreshing to hear that, when an artist such as Ms. Isbin revisits a work (such as the Vivaldi D Major concerto), she gives us an interpretation with subtle differences from what came before. On “Souvenirs of Spain and Italy”, Isbin partners with... More


album cover for "lamentationes"

October 4, 2019

New York Polyphony’s “Lamentations”

New York Polyphony‘s bass, Craig Phillips, shares the story of how his group rediscovered music of the 16th century composer, Francisco de Peñalosa, and how that composer’s “Lamentations of Jeremiah” are so perfectly suited to his group’s voices, that it seems Peñalosa wrote the work for them. On the recording, New York Polyphony include works... More


cd cover with cartoon of man playing violin

September 24, 2019

Augustin Hadelich links Brahms to Ligeti

German-American violinist Augustin Hadelich says that he is attracted to the idea of contrasts in music, and in making choices of repertoire. Mr. Hadelich tells program director John Pitman that despite those contrasts, often similarities arise by putting two disparate works together. In this case, Mr. Hadelich leads with the familiar and beloved concerto by... More


American rapture

September 10, 2019

Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis: American Rapture

Yolanda Kondonassis is a harpist that may be described as “fearless”, as she enthusiastically takes on any idea that contemporary composers send her way. A while back, Ms. Kondonassis made a wonderful recording of the Ginastera concerto. Now, she shares what may become the first great harp concerto of the 21st century: a commissioned work... More


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