MUSIC FOR VIOLIN AND VIOLA – Davide Alogna & José Adolfo Alejo

Available online for purchase or streaming on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, Deezer, and Google Play) and for physical purchase from MUSIC FOR VIOLIN AND VIOLA features two singularly talented artists.

Playing the music of Spohr, Halvorsen, Bruch, Manuel María Ponce, and Mozart, Italian violinist Davide Alogna and Mexican violist José Adolfo Alejo are joined by the Mexican ensemble Camerata de Coahuila, led by Ramón Shade.

This album brings together two superb instrumentalists who set out to investigate the abundant yet rarely explored duo repertoire for their instruments.

The results are splendid.

Seven works, among them Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, Louis Spohr’s Grand Duo, Max Bruch’s Double Concerto, and Halvorsen’s Passacaglia on a theme by Handel occupy multiple tracks, each worthy of attention.

Davide Alogna and José Adolfo Alejo together mine for musical gold throughout the entire program, playing elegantly, stylishly eliciting multiple colors from music written over two centuries, and all the while negotiating technical hurdles without any trouble.

The Mexican ensemble Camerata de Coahuila, led by Ramón Shade provides the two soloists peerless support in the grandly Romantic Double Concerto of Max Bruch.

The recording is perfectly engineered by Brilliant Classics.  

We look forward to more from these two artists.


When I first heard a work by the late American composer Christopher Rouse – a performance of his symphony no. 6, his last – I wrote “… the now somber, now nervous, now agitated, now elegiac tone says with rare profoundness what mere words cannot begin to convey. In four movements, the sections of Rouse’s slow-fast-fast-slow structure segue into each other episodically — moments of reflective stasis contrast with blunt agitation, evoking life’s vicissitudes. Massive tone clusters from the large brass section, augmented by startling percussive outbursts, are suddenly juxtaposed with passages of eerie near stillness underpinned by jittery activity in the lower strings. Cantabile passages and peaceful soli for woodwinds alternate with massive statements from the amassed orchestra.”

Heaven forbid I should be taken to imply that Rouse repeats himself as I repeat my year-old words in the context of this review. On the contrary, this composer’s gift for finding unpredictable sounds from instruments often taken for granted thanks to his uncanny genius for orchestrating is more than ever before present in this remarkable performance of three works, including the impressive Symphony No. 5 by Christopher Rouse with the enormously gifted Giancarlo Guerrero leading the superb Nashville Symphony Orchestra issued by Naxos.

Supplica, an inspired composition brief in duration, serenely beautiful, leaning towards tonality while not altogether abandoning the freedom that Rouse’s free-wheeling use of atonality and polytonality provides the composer, gives the listener a welcome oasis of tranquility before the Concerto for Orchestra, where once more the composer demonstrates his ability to fearlessly take the listener from restlessness in tempo and melody lines to pockets of mysterious quiet.

This listener can think of no other composer in our time who can so enticingly transport us into music of such other sonic worlds.

Rafael de Acha


Commissioned and premiered by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Manfred Honeck, the ensemble’s superb Music Director, Jonathan Leshnoff’s  beautiful Double Concerto for Clarinet and Bassoon affords PSO principals Michael Rusinek (clarinet) and Nancy Goeres (bassoon) the opportunity to shine as soloists in this gorgeous 20-minute-long, three-movement composition.

Leshnoff’s music is unabashedly accessible. From the onset of the composition the composer establishes a bucolic, dreamy tonal landscape that at once engages the listener with the ebb and flow of its melancholy utterances.

First the bassoon then the clarinet, alternate in a quiet dialogue built on a short melodic motif that is gradually echoed by the orchestra. It is a haunting entrance into the world of this concerto and its composer.

But soon and early in the movement the tranquility of the beginning is briefly interrupted by a climactic outburst from the orchestra, only to soon return to the opening mood of the movement.

Less-than-three minutes in duration the humorous second movement is set to a waltz tempo. The music is elegant, at all times playful, capitalizing on the bassoon’s grumpy lower range, with the clarinet reminding its fellow woodwind brother to stop grumbling, which it does abruptly.

The third movement is all agility and syncopation, giving the soloists a workout in its rapid ascents and descents alone and in tandem. Suddenly the mood changes into a brief cantabile passage for the clarinet to give it center stage. Then the up and down antics of the two solo instruments resume their good-natured competition.

Now it is the bassoon that commands the attention, the way the clarinet did earlier in the movement. The activity increases as does the technical demands on both players, the entire affair careening towards an unpredictably blunt ending.

I am tempted to name this work as one of the most intriguing 21st century compositions this listener has ever encountered, for which huge gratitude is due to Reference Records, to Maestro Manfred Honeck and his Pittsburgh players, to the two superlative soloists – clarinetist Michael Rusinek and bassoonist Nancy Goeres, and most of all to the immensely gifted Jonathan Leshnoff, from whom we beg for more gems like this one.

We entreat the reader to get hold of this wonderful issue, either as a CD or as a download so as to enjoy in addition to the Leshnoff Double Concerto, a noble, bold, exhilarating performance of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 4 in F minor, opus 36.

Honeck drives the impulsiveness of the Russian master’s cri de coeur composition with an uncanny mix of fury and heartbreak, profound pathos and ultimately with a glimmer of the hope that allowed the composer to live through the innumerable vicissitudes that plagued his personal and professional lives.

This recording is already in my short list of BEST OF 2020.

Rafael de Acha –  

A TREASURE TROVE OF BAROQUE DELIGHTS with Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst

Would Vivaldi have written more music for the clarinet if the instrument at his disposal had had all the bells and whistles of a modern one?

Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst tackles the answer to that question in the wonderful new Sony release Vivaldi, by playing three clarinet concertos using music from Vivaldi’s operas L’Olimpiade, Ottone in villa, La fida ninfa, Il Giustino, and the oratorio Juditha triumphans.

The results are splendid.

Performing on the chalumeau – the predecessor of the modern clarinet – as well as on a modern clarinet Fröst meets all the challenges an instrumentalist is likely to encounter when playing music conceived for the virtuoso vocalists of Vivaldi’s day.

The Swedish virtuoso displays dazzling technique, impeccable musicality, and an elegant way with the seamless legato required by the music.

The album is complemented with two Sinfonias and La Tortora, a charming air for chalumeau

Vivaldi, a treasure trove of Baroque delights recorded with the peerless baroque ensemble Concerto Köln is available as either download or CD.

Rafael de Acha

A BEETHOVEN FOR OUR TIMES – Greek conductor Teodor Currentzis


Undoubtedly Classical Music is undergoing tremendous changes, now more than ever in the era of Covid 19 and social distancing. Conductors and soloists are coming in newer, hipper models. Cool is no longer frowned upon. But neither is poor musicianship acceptable. Impostors are exposed. Routine music making is no longer tolerated.

Take Greek conductor Teodor Currentzis. With his European Indie film actor rugged looks, disheveled brown hair, basic-black wardrobe, leather jacket, and biker boots you’d think you were looking at a 1960’s nouvelle vague film idol rather than the much admired conductor of the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra.

But looks aside, this intriguing maestro throws tradition aside and, casting caution to the winds, sails through all four movements of Beethoven’s Symphony no. 5 at top speed, drawing from his musicians a performance in which fast and faster tempi, extreme dynamic contrasts between piano and pianissimo, and forte and fortissimo, and overall drive are the hallmarks.

From the iconic triplet da-da-da-duhm that signals to even the neophyte that we must sit up and listen, to a defiantly fast final movement, Currentzis hits the mark time and again. This is  an angry, defiant Beethoven for our troubled times.

The Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra is a finely tuned ensemble totally attuned to their conductor’s uniquely off the beaten path Beethoven. If you are looking for a solemnly Germanic approach, look elsewhere. If you are looking for fresh air in the hallowed halls of the Classical repertory Currentzis is your man in this top-notch SONY release.

Rafael de Acha

AMOUR ETERNELLE French and Italian arias featuring EKATERINA SIURINA

DELOS will be releasing on June 19th AMOUR ETERNELLE, an album of French and Italian arias featuring the spectacular EKATERINA SIURINA accompanied by the ever supportive Constantine Orbelian, leading the Kaunas Symphony Orchestra.

I had a chance to listen to a media download of this recording and I highly recommend it.

Ekaterina Siurina is a marvelous singer. Blessed with an angelically pure soprano voice, the ascending Russian star opens her album with a stunning rendition of Depuis le jour, from Carpentier’s Louise. She rises with ease to the climactic moment here and elsewhere  in a perfect Je veux vivre from Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, which she then follows with a poignantly sung though less familiar Roméo! Qu’as-tu donc?, and a flawless Me voilà seule dans la nuit from Les pêcheurs de perles plus a superb aria of Micaela from Bizet’s Carmen.

Perfectly suited to the French lyric soprano repertory, the young soprano moves easily into the slightly heavier Puccini territory of La rondine, La boheme, Turandot (Liu), and an ethereal Salce from Verdi’ Otello, with stellar partnering by her husband Charles Castronovo.

The album is engineered to the usual perfection of Delos.