The Critic's Chair

The Critic's Chair series ended in March 2015.

Displaying all 94 items

Critic's Chair: Ken Young on Anthony Ritchie

1:00 PM.Kenneth Young reviews the Atoll recording of Anthony Ritchie's Fourth Symphony.

Critic's Chair: Alison Balsom Paris

12:00 PM.Trumpet soloist Alison Balsom has released a CD called Paris - a varied collection of Parisian-inspired works, from Ravel to Reinhardt. Dave Bremner talks to Hannah Sassman about Alison Balsom's new direction, and discusses the merits of the variety on the recording.

Critic's Chair: Seattle Symphony

12:00 PM.Robert Johnson reviews two recent recordings from the Seattle Symphony and their Music Director Ludovic Morlot. One is a disc of Dutilleux, including his Cello Concerto performed here by Xavier Phillips. The second recording is a work that recently won a Grammy and a Pulitzer Prize: John Luther Adams' Become Ocean. Find out if the award-winning composition lived up to the hype for Robert Johnson.

Critic's Chair: Richard Strauss

12:00 PM.Robert Johnson reviews a new recording of Strauss tone poems - Andris Nelsons conducts the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He offers some examples of clever scoring in Don Juan, and explains how the performances on this disc are second to none.

Critic's Chair: The Beethoven Journey

12:00 PM.Robert Johnson reviews the last CD in The Beethoven Journey series. Solo pianist Leif Ove Andsnes also directs the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

Critic's Chair: Janácek Orchestral Works Vol 1

12:00 PM.This recording is the first in a new series of orchestral works by Czech composer Janácek. The Bergen Philharmonic are conducted by Edward Gardner. Robert Johnson gives us some background context on Janácek's Sinfonietta, and plays highlights from the Suite from The Cunning Little Vixen, and the Capriccio featuring French piano soloist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet.

Critic's Chair: Doric String Quartet

12:00 PM.Peter Mechen reviews the latest recording from the Doric String Quartet, who you may have seen during their New Zealand tour earlier this year. He tells Hannah Sassman about this 2-disc set of Haydn's Opus 20 String Quartets.

Critic's Chair: Mozart's Instrumental Oratorium

12:00 PM.This recording features Mozart's final three symphonies, performed by the Concentus Musicus Wien. Conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt has chosen to interpret the three symphonies as a single work in three sections. Our reviewer Peter Mechen explains to Hannah Sassman why he would rather hear each work as a separate entity, and tells us what he thinks of the historic performance practice on this recording.

Critic's Chair: Symphonie Fantastique

12:00 PM.David Bremner reviews this new recording of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique and Varèse's Ionisation. He talks about conductor Mariss Janson's tempo choices in the Berlioz, and plays some excerpts that feature the brass section.

Critic's Chair: Alpine Symphony

12:00 PM.This new recording of Strauss' epic Alpine Symphony is from a live performance at the Saito Kinen Festival of 2012. Daniel Harding conducts the large orchestral forces needed for this work. In his review, Dave Bremner picks out his highlights of the wind and brass soloists, and reveals some of his favourite sections.

Critic's Chair: Stefan Schulz Copenhagen Recital

12:00 PM.We feature the brand new recording from bass trombonist Stefan Schulz. This disc is from a live recital, and highlights a selection of transcriptions for bass trombone and piano. David Bremner, principal trombone of the NZSO, reviews the recording. He explains to our producer Hannah Sassman why listeners will enjoy the range of music on the CD, and what he looks for in an exceptional bass trombonist.

Critic's Chair: Prokofiev Symphonies No 3 & 7

12:00 PM.We feature a new recording of Prokofiev's third and seventh symphonies. Robert Johnson talks to Hannah Sassman about this recording by the Bournemouth Symphony - conductor Kirill Karabits wins extra points from Robert for using the original slow ending of the Seventh Symphony, although he does include the alternate ending as an extra track on the disc.

Critic's Chair: Solstice - Leonie Holmes

12:00 PM.Peter Mechen reviews this recent recording on the Atoll label. It features orchestral music by New Zealand composer Leonie Holmes, and is played by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra under Marc Taddei.

Critic's Chair: Prokofiev Violin Sonatas & Five Melodies

12:00 PM.Robert Johnson reviews a recent release of Prokofiev works for violin and piano. Alina Ibragimova and Steven Osborne play Prokofiev's two Violin Sonatas - written for David Oistrakh - and his Five Melodies.

Critic's Chair: Bruckner Symphony No 9

12:00 PM.Robert Johnson reviews a recent release of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony, live from the Lucerne Festival 2013. It's the final recording of the late Claudio Abbado, who passed away in January of this year - a fitting tribute to one of the greatest conductors of the last century.

Critic's Chair: Night and Day

12:00 PM.Nick Tipping introduces Hannah Sassman to a brand-new recording by the Melbourne-based jazz group The End. Night and Day takes the listener on a journey through a day, with each track describing a time of day. Nick describes what he's heard as "minimalist jazz-rock fusion." When it's released, the album will be available at <>

Critic's Chair: Bach Trio Sonatas for Organ

12:00 PM.Indra Hughes introduces a brand-new release by organist Robert Costin, just in time for Organ Week 2014. This recording, on Stone Records, features JS Bach's six Trio Sonatas for Organ BWV 525-530. Robert Costin's performing on the organ of Pembroke College Cambridge, a modern renovation of a 1708 organ.

Critic's Chair: Landscape Preludes

12:40 PM.Peter Mechen sits in our Critic's Chair, and talks to Hannah Sassman about a recent release on the Rattle label called Landscape Preludes. It features twelve compositions by New Zealand composers, performed by pianist Henry Wong Doe.

Critic's Chair: Um… yeahyeahabsolutelynoway!

12:00 PM.Nick Tipping talks to Hannah Sassman about a recent release on the Rattle label called Um... It's the latest album from Adelaide-based group yeahyeahabsolutelynoway, with two guitars and drums.

The Critic's Chair: The Cut - Alexis French

12:00 PM.Nick Tipping talks to Hannah Sassman about a recent release on the Rattle label, The Cut. It's the debut album by local trumpet player Lex French - he recorded it in Montreal last year.

Critic's Chair: ELGAR: The Dream of Gerontius

1:00 PM.Robert Johnson reviews a recent release of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius and Symphony No 1. The conductor on the disc, Edo de Waart, is in New Zealand this week with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Robert guides us through the pros and cons of this recording.

Critic's Chair: Lars-Erik Larsson Orchestral Works Vol. 1

12:40 PM.Robert Johnson reviews a recent release of orchestral music by Swedish composer Lars-Erik Larssen. Popular in Sweden, Robert tells our producer Hannah Sassman why Larssen's music is worthy of exposure here in New Zealand too.

The Critic's Chair for 27 July 2014

12:00 PM.This week Erica Challis reviews Mendelssohn in Birmingham, a new release by the City of Birmingham Symphony. She then features the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra live at the BBC Proms, and Israeli mandolin virtuoso Avi Avital's new recording Between Worlds. You'll also hear Massenet's orchestral music is in the skilled hands of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, conducted by Neeme Järvi.

The Critic's Chair for 20 July 2014

12:00 PM.This week Cynthia Morahan is transported to France with tenor Juan Diego Florez's latest album L'amour. She also features piano works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven that were all composed in 1789; and introduces us to the eight-cello ensemble Cellophony. She starts with a recent recording of Mendelssohn's Symphony No 2, Lobegesang played by the Bavarian Radio Symphony and Choir, conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado.

The Critics Chair - 13 July 2014

5:00 PM.William Dart reviews a number of local releases in this programme. The Auckland Philharmonia play works by Ross Harris; and Jaz Coleman's Symphony No 2 The Island. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra have a new recording of overtures and entr'actes by Meyerbeer; and Gillian Bibby is the editor of Living Echoes: The First 150 Years of Piano Music from New Zealand - a collection of beginner piano music published by The Sunrise Music Trust.

The Critic's Chair - 6 July 2014

12:00 PM.Robert Johnson looks at the chamber music of Gabriel Pierné and Louis Vierne, performed by the Goldner Quartet and pianist Piers Lane. He also features an exciting recording of Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances and The Bells played by the Berlin Philharmonic. You’ll also hear Britten’s War Requiem from an all-star cast, under the direction of Antonio Pappano.

The Critic's Chair for 29 June 2014

12:00 PM.Robbie Ellis introduces four recent releases. There are new commissions for solo clarinet played by Matthias Schorn, and works for organ by Finnish composer Kalevi Aho. There's also a sumptuous new ECM production called Babylon-Suite with music for piano, toy piano, voice and drums, and two new guitar concertos with soloist Timo Korhonen.

The Critic's Chair for 22 June 2014

12:00 PM.Peter Walls looks at the final disc, Volume 55, in the Bach Collegium Japan's complete cantata series, begun nearly 20 years ago. The Academy of Ancient Music under Richard Egarr present a dramatically-tight version of Bach's St John Passion, and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra dazzle with a new release of the Brandenburg Concertos. He also reviews a refreshing disc of the Zefiro Baroque Orchestra, who remind us just how attractive Telemann can be.

The Critic's Chair for 15 June 2014

12:15 PM.Robert Johnson looks at a new disc of orchestral works by Polish composer Andrzej Panufnik, who would have been 100 years old this year. He also reviews a stunning new recording of Shostakovich’s Symphony No 14 – the latest addition to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s Shostakovich cycle under the skilled baton of Vasily Petrenko. You'll also hear the skilled Liège Philharmonic playing works by Respighi.

The Critic's Chair for 8 June 2014

12:00 PM.Peter Mechen surveys some of the great Beethoven symphony cycles: from the intense and visionary accounts of Bruno Walter in 1949, to the formative 1962 Karajan recordings, and into the 21st century with rewarding period instrument performances by the likes of John Eliot Gardiner and Jos van Immerseel.

The Critic's Chair for 1 June 2014

12:00 PM.Kenneth Young sits in our Critic's Chair this week. He revels in a new recording of Gabrieli works performed by Berlin Brass, and explores three orchestral works by Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng. The Takács Quartet play Britten's three String Quartets, and you'll hear a very effective chamber version of Bruckner's Symphony No 2, arranged by British composer Anthony Payne.

The Critics Chair for 25 May 2014

12:00 PM.Robert Johnson reviews recent releases by New Zealand and Eastern European composers this week. The New Zealand Chamber Soloists have a new recording of John Psathas, and the compelling monodrama Alice by Gillian Whitehead is featured. You'll also hear a disc of chamber music by Russian/Polish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg, and the Tampere Philharmonic conducted by Hannu Lintu perform George Enescu's Third Symphony.

The Critic's Chair for 18 May 2014

12:00 PM.David Bremner sits in our Critic's Chair this week. You'll hear the first and last symphonies of Shostakovich in a brand new recording from the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. Gustavo Dudamel conducts the LA Philharmonic through Mahler's Symphony No 9 in D, and we bring you a recording of Stravinsky and Stokowski from the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The Critic's Chair for 11 May 2014

12:00 PM.Nick Tipping sits in the Critic's Chair this week, with a New Zealand Music Month special. He casts the spotlight on five recent jazz releases on the local Rattle label, featuring the Phil Broadhurst Quartet, The Jac, and Samsom Nacey Haines. Dog features four Auckland-based musicians, and Jonathan Crayford's brand new album is reviewed.

The Critic's Chair for 4 May 2014

12:05 PM.This week Robert Johnson presents a programme in celebration of New Zealand Music Month. Hear Douglas Lilburn’s chamber music played by Justine Cormack and Michael Houstoun, and the NZSO on a new recording of Jack Body’s works. Naga is a disc of Gamelan music by NZ composers, and Landscapes of the Soul includes Lyell Cresswell’s new Piano Concerto with soloist Stephen De Pledge

The Critic's Chair for 27 April 2014

12:00 PM.This week Cynthia Morahan reviews four recent recordings. The Puertas Quartet have a new release on the Atoll label, and pianist Hélène Grimaud has recorded the two Brahms concerti. You'll also hear the versatile soprano Christine Schafer singing Bach, and highlights from Rachel Podger's award-winning disc of solo violin works called Guardian Angel.

The Critic's Chair for 20 April 2014

12:00 PM.Dianne James explores three recent recordings this week. The Bartolozzi Trio have released their fourth volume of Haydn Piano Trios, and harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani has grouped together CPE Bach's six keyboard sonatas dedicated to the Duke of Württemberg. Also, The Sixteen under the direction of Harry Christophers have issued their first volume of Bach's Lutheran Mass cycle.

The Critic's Chair for Sunday 13 April 2014

12:00 PM.Robert Johnson reviews works by composers from four countries this week. The Helsinki Philharmonic performs music by Finnish composer Leevi Madetoja, and accomplished soloists Isabelle Faust, Jean-Guihen Queyras, and Alexander Melnikov play Beethoven. Swiss composer Frank Martin’s Cinderella ballet features, and JoAnn Falletta conducts the Buffalo Philharmonic in a first-class release of Glière’s monumental Third Symphony.

The Critic's Chair for 6 April 2014

12:00 PM.Erica Challis sits in The Critic's Chair with four recent recordings of symphonies. The Swedish Chamber Orchestra play Schubert, and the Bamberg Symphony present a very fine recording of Mahler's Sixth Symphony. Valery Gergiev conducts Shostakovich's Symphony No 8 with intensity, and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela gives us some lively Beethoven under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel.

The Critic's Chair for 30 March 2014

12:00 PM.Roger Wilson highlights four finalists from this year's BBC Music Magazine Awards, from the vocal, choral and operatic categories. He delights in the Hyperion release Handel's Finest Arias for Base Voice with soloist Christopher Purves, and Romantische Arien with baritone Christian Gerhaher. The songs of Hanns Eisler are featured, along with a recording of Arvo Pärt choral works called Adam's Lament.

The Critic's Chair for 23 March 2014

12:00 PM.Robert Johnson takes us on a jaunt through the Hungarian countryside in this programme, with the Dante Quartet’s new recording of the Kodály String Quartets. He also features cellist Steven Isserlis playing the works of Bohuslav Martinů, and highly recommends Volodos Plays Mompou.  Also in the programme is Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s new release of the five formidable Prokofiev piano concertos; a recording that ticks all the boxes.

The Critic's Chair for 16 March 2014

12:00 PM.Kenneth Young reviews four recent orchestral releases on The Critic's Chair. Vasily Petrenko conducts the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in Shostakovich's large-scale fourth symphony, and Delius in Norway gives us an introduction to the orchestral works of Frederick Delius. The Melbourne Symphony shine in their recording of Bartók, and Yannick Nezet-Séguin conducts Tchaikovsky's final symphony, the Pathétique.

The Critic's Chair for 9 March 2014

12:00 PM.Peter Mechen presents a tribute to one of the great conductors of our time Claudio Abbado, who passed away in January of this year. We get an overview of Abbado's key recordings from throughout his career.

The Critic's Chair - 2 March 2014

12:05 PM.Robert Johnson reviews violinst Anne-Sophie Mutter’s new Dvorák disc, and New Zealand musicians Donald Maurice and Richard Mapp playing music of national identity, including Douglas Lilburn. Marc-André Hamelin features in a 3-CD set of Busoni piano works, and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic offer Nielsen’s fourth and fifth symphonies.

The Critic's Chair for 15 December 2013

12:00 PM.Dianne James looks at a recent release of the complete Brahms Symphonies, performed by the Gewandhaus Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly. Dianne was recently in Leipzig, and went to two concerts of Chailly conducting the Gewandhaus in performances of these Brahms symphonies. She shares her highlights from those concerts, gives an insightful review of the recording, and tells us why she's hoping to find this box-set in her Christmas stocking.

The Critic's Chair for 8 December 2013

12:00 PM.In the second part of our Settling the Score special, David Morriss shares his favourite commercial recordings of the top five works this year as voted by you, our listeners. He gives us a sneak peek into his CD collection with historic recordings from as early as 1925, and an excerpt from the 1950 world première of our top voted work for 2013: Strauss' Four Last Songs.

The Critic's Chair for 1 December 2013

12:00 PM.In a Settling the Score Live special, Robert Johnson - Music Librarian for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra - discusses his favourite commercial recordings of the top orchestral works in this year's listeners' poll. He starts the countdown from number ten, sharing his most-loved recordings of these popular works for orchestra.

The Critic's Chair for 24 November 2013

12:00 PM.William Dart gives a taste of the treats on Piers Lane Goes to Town; a selection of the pianist’s favourite pieces. He also highlights Anne Sofie von Otter’s new recording Douce France, a 2-CD set ranging from classic mélodies to cabaret songs. You’ll hear the Nash Ensemble performing the works of Frank Bridge, and Michelangelo in Song, featuring bass John Tomlinson.

The Critic's Chair for 17 November 2013

12:00 PM.In this week’s The Critic’s Chair, Erica Challis reviews Gustavo Dudamel’s latest, conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in a disc of Richard Strauss tone poems, and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra’s period instrument performances of early Schubert symphonies under Pablo Heras-Casado. There’s a live recording of Szymanowski’s first two symphonies by the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra perform of some of Jánaček’s mature works including the famous Sinfonietta.

The Critic's Chair for 10 November 2013

12:00 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair, Robert Johnson reviews violinist Janine Jansen's new recording of Schubert and Schoenberg. He gives us his take on Britten's music for string ensemble, and the Detroit Symphony's latest offering of Copland. You'll also hear Szymanowski's setting of the iconic Stabat Mater text, performed by the BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra.

The Critic's Chair for 3 November 2013

12:00 PM.Roger Wilson features recent releases by solo singers this week on The Critic's Chair. Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak has a new recording of Rossini arias, and young soprano Anna Prohaska offers a disc of early music called Enchanted Forest. The rich coloratura contralto of Marie-Nicole Lemieux gives a real display in La Passion Lemieux, a compilation of her recordings from the last eight years. Two English tenors also feature - Ian Bostridge with an all-Britten album, and Mark Padmore with three quintessential British song-cycles.

The Critic's Chair for 27 October 2013

12:00 PM.Cynthia Morahan takes us on a summer journey to Switzerland this week, to the Martha Argerich Project at the Lugano Festival. She delves into the box-set of highlights from last year's festival, recently released on the EMI label. Martha Argerich performs with an all-star cast of chamber musicians from around the world. Highlights include the rarely heard Piano Quintet in C by Nikolai Medtner, and Debussy's La Mer arranged for three pianos.

The Critic's Chair for 20 October 2013

12:15 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair Robert Johnson shares his thoughts on the valedictory release by the Tokyo String Quartet, and the London Philharmonic’s recording of Mahler’s Symphony No 1 in D under their dynamic Music Director Vladimir Jurowski. Michael Collins features as clarinet soloist and conductor on a new disc of Mozart and Copland, and violinist Chloë Hanslip performs sonatas by Nikolai Medtner.

The Critic's Chair for 13 October 2013

12:00 PM.A swag of contemporary music releases are reviewed on The Critic's Chair this week with Robbie Ellis. He looks at Baroque Conversations, featuring Israeli pianist David Greilsammer, who boldly places early music back to back with new compositions. Robbie also takes to Cyclorama with music by British composer Jonathan Goldstein, and casts his critical ear on Kevin Puts’ latest offering with Conspirare and the Baltimore Symphony under Marin Alsop.

The Critic's Chair for 6 October 2013

12:00 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair, Peter Mechen takes us to Florence with the Emerson String Quartet's new recording Journeys, and indulges in a recording of Beethoven's late piano sonatas, featuring the young pianist Igor Levit. We also hear the song cycles of Mahler performed by baritone Christian Gerhaher, and a recent New Zealand recording Tui, featuring the Auckland-based piano quartet Estrella.

The Critic's Chair for 29 September 2013

12:00 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair, Robert Johnson reviews pianist Angela Hewitt's latest offering, Fauré Piano Music, as well as the premiere recording of Finnish composer-conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen's Violin Concerto. You'll also get a taste of Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony conducted by Vasily Petrenko, and the Stenhammar Quartet performing music by their namesake, Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar.

The Critic's Chair for 22 September 2013

12:00 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair, Peter Walls follows the great 18th-century mezzo-soprano Faustina Bordoni's travels around Naples, and reviews Bach's violin concerti performed by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra. He also explores the much-neglected Seven Last Words of Christ by Pergolesi, and the sacred choral music of Marc-Antoine Charpentier.

The Critic's Chair for 15 September 2013

12:00 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair, Erica Challis looks at the fourth volume of the BBC Symphony's Lutoslawski series, and changes pace with Mitsuko Uchida performing Mozart Piano Concertos Nos 9 & 21 with the Cleveland Orchestra. She also uncovers two young wind players currently in principal seats of leading orchestras: flutist Katherine Bryan, and clarinettist Andreas Ottensamer.

The Critic's Chair for Sunday 8 September 2013

12:00 PM.The Critic’s Chair this week explores a new recording of Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9 ‘From the New World’, which Robert Johnson labels “second to none”.  You’ll also hear Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires and her latest disc of Schubert sonatas, and a potpourri of flute works by the phenomenal Sharon Bezaly. And if you love Sibelius, you might also love the Helsinki Phil’s latest recording of Madetoja’s 2nd Symphony.

The Critic's Chair for 1 September 2013

12:00 PM.Kenneth Young reviews four very contrasting recordings this week on The Critic's Chair: the much anticipated new release of Bartok violin concerti by Isabelle Faust with the Swedish Radio Symphony and conductor Daniel Harding, and a disc of renaissance music by the Stockholm Chamber Brass. Also, two new piano discs: Pierre-Laurent Aimard's interpretation of Debussy's Preludes, and the young pianist-composer Conrad Tao with his varied Voyages.

The Critic's Chair for 25 August 2013

12:00 PM.Roger Wilson reviews three great operas this week on The Critic's Chair. Rising star conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra begin a recorded cycle of Mozart's seven mature operas with Don Giovanni on Deutsche Grammophon. Cecilia Bartoli gives Bellini's Norma a fresh perspective and historically-informed performance with the Orchestra La Scintilla, and New Zealanders Simon O'Neill and Martin Snell star in the London Symphony Orchestra's concert performance of Weber's Der Freischutz, conducted by the late Sir Colin Davis.

The Critic's Chair for Sunday 18 August 2013

7:00 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair, Robert Johnson reviews Steven Osborne's performance of Stravinsky's music for piano and orchestra in its entirety,  Gustavo Dudamel's treatment of Mahler's Ninth with the LA Phil, plus an innovative collection of Grieg's Sonatas for violin and piano reworked into concerti featuring Henning Kraggerud.

The Critic's Chair for 11 August 2013

12:00 PM.This week on The Critic’s Chair, Dianne James delves into 17th-century English Royal funeral music, sung by Vox Luminis. Also, Danny Driver’s second volume of CPE Bach keyboard sonatas is reviewed, along with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra’s latest invigorating instalment of Schubert symphonies with conductor David Zinman.

The Critic's Chair for 4 August 2013

12:00 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair, Peter Mechen reviews a new recording of Hexameron - rarely-heard piano variations featuring six pianists. He also explores transcriptions of Wagner for two-pianos, and Rachmaninov's 1st Piano Concerto with soloist Yevgeny Sudbin. Also, the most recent recording by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and pianist Nelson Friere's delightful disc of Brazilian music.

The Critic's Chair for 28 July 2013

12:00 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair, Robert Johnson reviews the BBC Symphony Orchestra's latest in their Polish series with the works of Szymanowski, and the French Radio Philharmonic showcase the works of Dutilleux. Also, the Doric String Quartet explore chamber music by Chausson, and Vivaldi's violin concertos are brought to life by Giuliano Carmignola and Accademia Bizantina.

The Critic's Chair for 21 July 2013

12:00 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair, Erica Challis reviews just two discs, both of them Requiems: Berlioz' Grande Messe des Morts recorded by Sir Colin Davis with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and a disc called Mozart Requiem Realisations with King's College Choir Cambridge and the Academy of Ancient Music directed by Stephen Cleobury.

The Critic's Chair for 14 July 2013

12:00 PM.Cynthia Morahan formerly of RTÉ's Lyric FM drops in this week for The Critic's Chair, and reviews discs that revitalise traditions from the old and new worlds. Soprano Petricia Petibon's Nouveau Monde mixes Greensleeves with Peruvian folksongs, and British pianist James Rhodes tries to break down classical walls with expletive-laced observations and piano favourites. Also Avi Avital makes a case for Bach concertos on the mandolin, and Marc-André Hamelin teams up with Les Violons du Roy and Bernard Labadie in important new performances of Haydn keyboard concertos.

The Critic's Chair for 7 July 2013

12:00 PM.The Russians are coming on The Critic's Chair this week. Robert Johnson reviews an advance copy of violinist Natalia Lomeiko's disc of Prokofiev Sonatas on the New Zealand-based Atoll label. Also, a new recording from the LA Phil of Shostakovich's 4th Symphony with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting, as well as the complete Kabalevsky Piano Concertos with pianist Michael Korstick accompanied by the Hannover NDR Radio Philharmonic under the baton of Alun Francis.

The Critic's Chair for 30 June 2013

12:00 PM.Kenneth Young sits in for The Critic's Chair with a collection of sweeping orchestral works, from Rachmaninov's Symphony No 2 to Debussy's La Mer. Vasily Petrenko leads the Royal Liverpool Phil in the favourite Rachmaninov Symphony, and Daniel Gatti directs the French National Orchestra in Debussy. Cellist Sol Gabetta combines Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 with Rachmaninov's Cello Sonata. And Sony releases a 27 year project by Esa Pekka Salonen and the LA Phil to record the complete Lutoslawski Symphonies.

The Critic's Chair for 23 June 2013

12:00 PM.This week in The Critic's Chair, Dianne James reviews Joshua Bell's first instalment of Beethoven Symphonies with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. You'll also hear a beautiful new recording of Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil. But first, Dianne opens with a disc she'd been itching to get her hands featuring the remarkable young pianist, Jan Lisiecki playing Chopin's two collections of Etudes.

The Critic's Chair for 16 June 2013

12:00 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair, Robert Johnson reviews famous orchestral interludes by Richard Wagner played the Budapest Festival Orchestra conducted by Iván Fischer, and the latest release of violin virtuoso James Ehnes in the music of Britten and Shostakovich with the Bournemouth SO. Finally, Robert presents the powerful music of Jewish composers imprisoned at the Theresienstadt concentration camp during the Second World War by the Nash Ensemble.

The Critic's Chair for 9 June 2013

9:15 AM.This week on The Critic's Chair, Robbie Ellis reviews recent discs from New Zealand labels Rattle and Atoll that bring together local and international composers and performers. 

The Critic's Chair for 2 June 2013

12:00 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair - David Houston reviews new recordings that create a deeper connection with the music through stories about the artists and the composers. YouTube sensation Valentina Lisitsa's self-financed recordings of the complete Rachmaninov Concertos with the London Symphony Orchestra are now out on Decca. The Quatuor Ebene of France reveal the close relationship between Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn and their music with three quartets by the siblings, including Felix's Requiem for Fanny. Finally Kiwi Elise Bradley shows us what she's been up to for the last six years with the Toronto Children's Chorus in Canada with choral music by composers of both nations.

The Critic's Chair - Rite of Spring

8:00 PM.Robert Johnson reviews a new interpretation of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Simon Rattle.

The Critic's Chair for Sunday 26 May 2013

12:00 PM.Robert Johnson reviews three discs that include a rare performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto under Daniel Barenboim with American cello sensation Alisa Weilerstein, a single-disc collection of orchestral works by Rachmaninov and the Berlin Philharmonic’s performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring – synonymous with their conductor, Sir Simon Rattle, in recognition of the works’ centenary.

The Critic's Chair for 19 May 2013

12:00 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair, Peter Mechen reviews a blend of recordings of different genres, beginning with an Italian song recital from New Zealand soprano Anna Leese and her pianist countryman Stephen de Pledge. The latest disc from Naxos of Ferdinand Ries's piano concertos has pianist Christopher Hinterhuber supported by the NZSO and Uwe Grodd. Vincent D'Indy's familiar Symphony on a French Mountain Air is presented with a group of his lesser-known orchestral works by Rumon Gamba and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra that premiered two of Richard Strauss's most popular works now records them over a hundred years later, and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard blow some fresh Nordic air through some of Wagner's most well-known orchestral pieces, besides accompanying the wonderful Nina Stemme in the Wesendonck Lieder.

The Critic's Chair for 12 May 2013

12:00 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair, Peter Walls reviews the Avison Ensemble playing violin sonatas by Corelli, Vivaldi's 'Pisendel' Violin concerti with Il Pomo d'Oro, and Ensemble Caprice's Vivaldi disc, 'The Return of Angels'. The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra perform Bach Cantatas and Concerti reconstructions, and Philippe Herreweghe conducts Bach motets with the Collegium Vocale Ghent.

The Critic's Chair for 5 May 2013

12:00 PM.British pianist Martin Roscoe plays of Dohnányi's solo piano music, and the Rome Symphony Orchestra gives world premiere performances of works by Italian composer Petyrassi. German violinist Julia Fischer's performs Dvorak and Bruch concertos with the Tonhalle Orchestra conducted by David Zinman, and tenor Jonas Kaufmann sings Wagner arias.

The Critic's Chair for 28 April 2013

12:00 PM.This week on The Critic's Chair, Erica Challis reviews the refined playing of trumpeter Alison Balsom with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert. Thomas Dausgaard and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra give Brahms' first symphony a wonderful warmth and positive energy, and Tchaikovsky's lesser known Symphony No. 3 gets a dance-inspired performance by the Russian National Orchestra conducted by Michael Pletnev. Finally, the São Paulo SO performs Villa-Lobos symphonies inspired by the First World War.

The Critic's Chair for 21 April 2013

12:00 PM.Kenneth Young reviews The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's latest recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 1 conducted by Marin Alsop, a live concert with violinist Frank Peter Zimmerman, the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert in music by Beethoven, Stravinsky and Ravel, Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique by l'Orchestre National de Lyon and Leonard Slatkin, and pays tribute to Colin Davis with Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 and violinst Arthur Grumiaux.

The Critics Chair for 14 April 2013

12:15 PM.Robert Johnson reviews new releases.

The Critic's Chair for 7 April 2013

12:00 PM.with Dianne James.

The Critic's Chair for 31 March 2013

12:00 PM.with Erica Challis.

The Critic's Chair for 24 March 2013

12:00 PM.With Robert Johnson.

The Critic's Chair for 17 March 2013

12:00 PM.Presented by Peter Mechen.

The Critic's Chair for 10 March 2013

12:00 PM.With Dianne James.

The Critic's Chair for 3 March 2013

12:00 PM.With Robert Johnson.

The Critic's Chair for 15 December

12:00 PM.Finishing The Critic's Chair for 2013, Dianne James takes a good look at Riccardo Chailly's new Decca release of Brahms' Symphonies with the Gewandhaus Orchestra. The three discs are on Decca478 5344.

The Critic's Chair for 11 November 2012

12:00 PM.With Robert Johnson.

The Critic's Chair for 4 November 2012

9:00 AM.Dianne James is in The Critic's Chair.

The Critic's Chair for 28 October 2012

12:00 PM.Murray Khouri compares great recordings of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring on The Critic’s Chair. Murray’s Choice: from a generally excellent crop of recordings Valery Gergiev and Simon Rattle vie for top place. Both get to the core of this masterpiece giving performances that you’ll want to hear time and time again. Best Budget Buy is Mackerras with the London Phil. It’s finely played and recorded with a few novelties as fill-ups. Collector’s Choice has to be Stravinsky conducting the Columbia Symphony; a bench mark recording that should have a place in any collection.

The Critic's Chair for 30 December 2012

12:00 PM.BEETHOVEN: Complete Symphonies; 8 Concert Overtures Leipzig Gewandhaus Orch/Riccardo Chailly (Decca 478 2721). Dianne James explores symphonies 6 through 9 of this exciting cycle of Beethoven symphonies.

The Critic's Chair for 23 December 2012

12:00 PM.BEETHOVEN: Complete Symphonies; 8 Concert Overtures Leipzig Gewandhaus Orch/Riccardo Chailly (Decca 478 2721). Dianne James explores the first five symphonies in this exciting cycle of Beethoven symphonies.

The Critic's Chair for 6 May 2012

12:00 PM.With Robert Johnson.