Orchestras on their own labels

wagner-sibeliusx800 chicago_ seattle_

New recordings from the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony and the Seattle Symphony …

Review: Orchestras thrive with their own recordings. Orange County Register, Jan. 8, 2015.

Pacific Symphony / St.Clair, Perlman / OCR review

Review: Perlman power at the Pacific. Orange County Register, Jan. 12, 1014.

Emanuel Ax / OCR review

Review: Emanuel Ax is elegant fit for French program. Orange County Register, Jan. 10, 2014.

Pacific Symphony / Hussain, Hadelich / OCR review

Review: Young musicians impressive guests at Pacific. Orange County Register, Jan. 9, 2015.

Nine symphonies

Los Angeles blogger and friend of Classical Life CK Dexter Haven has issued a challenge that is being taken up around the classical blogosphere. Pick nine numbered symphonies for your “proverbial desert island survival kit,” without repeating composers or numbers. (Update: Sorry. To be perfectly clear, your picks need to correspond to the numbers, 1-9, i.e. No. 1 has to be a First symphony, No. 2 a Second symphony, etc.) I had a touch of insomnia last night, so I came up with my own. I decided to adhere to Alex Ross‘s suggestion to not include symphonies by Beethoven (too easy to, really). I decided to ignore Mr. Dexter Haven’s rule that only numbered symphonies could be listed, because it allows me to include two of my favorite composers (both of whom did not write numbered symphonies) and two of my favorite symphonies, period.

One further note from me. As Mr. Dexter Haven is calling this a desert island list, I take that to mean that we are to choose the symphonies we like best, which is not necessarily the same thing as picking the symphonies that are the greatest for each number. The list:

Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique (his first)*

Lutoslawski: Symphony No. 2

Schumann: Symphony No. 3, “Rhenish”¹

Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements (his fourth)*

Sibelius: Symphony No. 5

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 6²

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 7, “Sinfonia antartica”³

Schubert: Symphony No. 8, “Unfinished”

Mahler: Symphony No. 9

*If I had to pick all numbered symphonies I would choose Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1, “Classical,” and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, “Romantic.”

¹ Haven’t seen the “Rhenish” mentioned by anyone. It’s magnificent.

² I’m pretty sure no one will pick this one either, but it’s a sleeper.

³ I had the pleasure of performing as narrator of this piece.

Classical Life: 2014 Annual Report


It’s that time of year again, when the people at WordPress provide me with an annual report on Classical Life, the blog that I’ve been running in one form or another since 2006 and which you are reading right now.

Here are some of the numbers for 2014.

The busiest day of 2014, in terms of views, was May 11, when I posted my decade-old interview with the conductor Carlo Maria Giulini. The internet got word and came here in droves to read it as if it were brand new. Nevertheless, I am grateful.

I posted 174 times during the year, or slightly less than every other day.

The posts with the most number of views were:

1. Giulini: 99

2. 10 Giulini recordings

3. Sooty Salonen cover (which has been changed since I originally posted, for reasons made clear in the updated post).

4. Bruckner recordings

5. Happy 4th (which appears to apply to a posting in 2011).

Savvy readers will notice a pattern. Four of the five top posts were written in previous years. WordPress says my writing has “staying power” and that I should consider “writing about those topics again.” More Giulini anyone?

The top referring sites (sending readers here) were artsjournal.com, outwestarts.blogspot.com, therestisnoise.com, slippedisc.com and allisyar.com. The checks are in the mail.

Readers from 112 countries visited Classical Life, but most came from the U.S.

The most commented on post was Rachmaninoff redux, which did indeed inspire a lively debate.

The top five commenters of the year were MarK, chris, Gary, CK Dexter Haven and Harry Kirschner. Thanks for engaging.

Classical Life revenue and profits were stable.

Stay thirsty, Friends.

Happy New Year

‘Union Station’

Another in an occasional series …

Review: Hats off to ‘Union Station.’ Orange County Register, Dec. 31, 2014.

Liszt: ‘Mephisto Polka’

Unusual piece. Some wonderful playing by the 85-year-old Aldo Ciccolini, a few slips notwithstanding.

The Reger Awards: 2014


“I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. Your review is in front of me. Soon, it will be behind me.” – composer Max Reger, responding to a negative review

Reger Awards: The year in classical music. Orange County Register, Dec. 23, 2014.



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