The Listener

An exhilarating debut: Peltokoski’s Mozart Symphonies reviewed

Grade: A- Here’s an oddly structured album of Mozart’s symphonies 35, 40 and 36 from the world’s most fashionable young Finnish conductor – and, no, it isn’t Klaus Makela, the 28-year-old maestro of the Oslo Philharmonic and Orchestre de Paris who’s taking over in Amsterdam and Chicago. It’s Tarmo Peltokoski, 24, who hasn’t yet had

Let the Lemon Twigs pour warm syrup into your ears

Grade: A If you enjoy the sensation of having warm, jangly syrup poured directly into your ear, then this is probably the summer album for you. You might think that syrup cannot, by definition, be jangly. But imagine treacle with popping candy in it – poured into your ear in a kindly manner by a

Yunchan Lim’s Chopin isn’t as good as his Liszt or Rach

Grade: B- In 2022 the South Korean pianist Yunchan Lim became, at 18, the youngest winner of the Van Cliburn competition, displaying a virtuosity that stunned the judges. You could see conductor Marin Alsop’s astonishment as he bounded through the finale of Rach 3, combining accuracy and swirling fantasy at daredevil speed. It’s been viewed

Fat White Family’s new album is much, much better than I had feared

Grade: A- The irresistibly catchy – if you are not quite right in the head – ‘Touch The Leather’ was probably my favourite single of the previous decade, aided by a video which was simultaneously marvellously seedy, threatening and infantile. ‘Left-wing skin on the right-wing leather – touch the leather leather…’ Well it did it

The greatest British symphonist you’ve never heard of

Grade: A Rejoice! A glorious symphonic cycle by a British composer has been issued as a set for the first time. George Lloyd (1913-98) was treated with lofty condescension by the musical establishment because his twelve symphonies contain barely a single dissonance. They’re sprinkled with jaunty tunes that have the feel of an Ealing Comedy

Lang Lang’s wretched new album

Grade: F At the end of his life Sviatoslav Richter decided to try his hand at the Gershwin Piano Concerto. It was a ghastly experiment, but his admirers were used to his quirkiness, knew his powers were fading and so sensibly forgot about it. Now we have Lang Lang playing Saint-Saëns. It’s an even more

The Last Dinner Party are sadly rather good

Grade: A- There is something decidedly fishy about this convocation of terribly well-bred young ladies who became a kind of sensation two years ago, before they had even recorded a single song – and now have their first album at number one, a sell-out tour in the US and a Brit award. All a bit

A thrilling new recording of Messiaen’s Turangalila-Symphonie

Grade: A Pierre Boulez once called Messiaen’s giant Turangalila-Symphonie ‘brothel music’. That was mean-spirited but you knew what he meant: a typical performance comes in at just under 80 minutes, much of it consisting of the B-movie sound of an ondes Martenot wailing over lush harmonies. There’s a constant zig-zag of polyrhythms, plus great towers

Pleasant, underwhelming: Kurt Vile’s Back to Moon Beach reviewed

Grade: C+ Maximum points for self-awareness, you have to say. The title track of this pleasant, if largely underwhelming, album include the lines: ‘These recycled riffs aren’t going anywhere, any time.’ Never a truer word spoken. Here, this fitfully engaging singer-songwriter shuffles through predictable chord changes pinioned by forgettable piano riffs and intones – deploying

Shiny, smooth heavy metal for white incels: Metallica’s 72 Seasons reviewed

Grade: B– Chugga-chugga, grawch, chugga-chugga. Never mind 72 seasons, it’s actually been a little over 500 seasons since Metallica first started bestowing their peculiarly Los Angeles brand of heavy metal – shiny, taut and smooth – on a grateful audience of dispossessed lower-middle-class white incels. And nothing very much has changed. They have got better,

Nursery-level music: Sam Smith’s Gloria reviewed

Grade: D Yes, it’s porky Sam from Essex, with his body issues and his complex gender pronouns and his endless narcissistic banalities, his depthless self-importance. This is Smith’s fourth studio album in a career that seems to be nosing a little downhill, mercifully – although it will still sell by the million worldwide. He has

Gobbets of bile and hard-bitten wisdom: Iggy Pop’s Every Loser reviewed

Grade: A– James Newell Osterberg Jnr’s unexpected and unwarranted longevity on this planet has conferred upon him the status of irascible, but very loveable, grandfather of punk: it suits him just fine. A delightful contrarian in a profession otherwise staffed by vapid, guileless, liberals – Iggy actually meant it when he sang ‘I’m a Conservative’