Gerald Fenech has been a classical music enthusiast ever since hearing the Classics For Pleasure LP recording of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks with the Virtuosi of England. In July 1995 he was at the First Night of the Proms in London when Mahler’s Eighth Symphony was played under the baton of Andrew Davis. The experience set him writing a review which was sent to The Sunday Times of Malta and he was then commissioned to write a bi-weekly page of CD reviews which continued until 2004 and featured hundreds of CDs from a myriad of labels.
In 1997, Gerald began a career in radio broadcasting which lasted until 2002 where he presented hundreds of programmes dealing with music for the state cultural radio in Malta - now sadly defunct. He also contributed many articles to other local and international publications, and wrote for several websites including Musicweb, Classical Net and Music and Vision Magazine, which he joined in 1999. For many years he was also the music critic for The Times of Malta as well as The Malta Independent. He also published reviews of selected Testament recordings in International Classical Record Collector.
Although currently a full time journalist, he still finds time to keep abreast with what’s happening in the world of classical music, not least through his regular writings for M&V. He specializes in orchestral repertoire with a historical tinge, and some of his favourite artists are Istvan Kertesz, Otto Klemperer, Sir Thomas Beecham and Herbert von Karajan.
He is also a tireless advocate for British music - particularly the works of Parry, Stanford, Vaughan Williams, Elgar and Bax, and has a lifelong dedication to the work of the great Danish composer Carl Nielsen, on which he has written extensively, particularly on the seminal Symphony No. 4, The Inextinguishable.
A dedicated sound enthusiast, he has a huge CD collection and is also the proud owner of a sizeable LP collection and an SME 3012/Garrard 401 combination which occasionally gives great pleasure when used to play his favourite Decca FFSS LPs.
Music & Vision articles by Gerald Fenech
Béla Bartók's six string quartets, highly recommended
Tchaikovsky for violin and orchestra. 'The young and celebrated Korean virtuoso Moonkyung Lee is fast making a name for herself on both sides of the Atlantic, and these performances confirm all the wonderful reviews that are being written about her.'
Dvorák serenades. 'Performances by the Czech Nonet ... and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Neville Marriner ... are exemplary, and all the colourful harmonies and exuberant rhythms are brought out with a virtuosity that is quite unmatchable.'
Hindemith's complete string quartets, highly recommended. '... each rendition is an endless source of pleasure, where precision and attention to detail are the consistent hallmarks of some breathtaking music-making.'
Music for brass and organ, strongly recommended. 'Barbara Bruns and the Thompson Brass Ensemble give dazzling performances full of compelling virtuosity and brilliantly executed musical stunts that never fail to surprise ...'
Piano music by Heinz Tiessen fascinates Gerald Fenech. 'Matthew Rubinstein is a red-hot advocate of Tiessen's works, and his interpretations brim with a passionate dedication that lays bare the inner gestures of this music.'
Philip Higham plays J S Bach's cello suites. 'The soloist's wise and daring approach also leads him to combine elements of period and modern style both in his playing and in his choice of instruments ...'
Choral and orchestral music by Bronius Kutavicius. '... a dramatic portrayal of the interaction of human activity and natural forces.'
Arvo Pärt's 'Canon of Repentance'. '... Daniel Reuss and Cappella Amsterdam more than do justice to the distilled purity and sublime beauty of this work.'
'Symphonia Domestica' and 'Metamorphosen', excite Gerald Fenech. '... full of charismatic flair and detailed, luscious sound that give these challenging pieces a glow of brilliance.'
Anton Bruckner's Second Symphony. '... Bolton's interpretation is wonderfully paced, and his careful attention to detail allows all of the composer's thick orchestration to reveal its many touches of genius that give the score its grandeur and natural beauty.'
Tango choral works by Martín Palmeri. '... sacred and profane are skillfully enmeshed with wonderfully successful results.'
Handel's 'Messiah'. 'A new experience of a work we have heard so many times.'
Tchaikovsky's music for violin and orchestra. 'The American violinist Jennifer Koh interprets these testing pieces with dazzling virtuosity and passionate exuberance, and the Violin Concerto in particular is one of the most exciting renditions I have heard in recent times.'
A Richard Strauss first recording. 'JoAnn Falletta and her Buffalo team regale the listener with admirably detailed performances full of watchful sensitivity to the many magical melodies that are encrusted in this score.'
Music by Halvorsen, Nielsen and Svendsen. 'Henning Kraggerud's technical brilliance lends a balanced fluidity to all three works, and each is allowed to betray all the enterprising orchestral colours hidden within each score.'
The pastiche 'Catone'. 'Carlo Ipata and his masterful band of singers and instrumentalists give a most persuasive and fascinating performance capturing all the nuances of the score with impressive conviction and verbal dexterity.'
Orchestral music by Enrique Soro. 'The composer's melodic instinct, mastery of orchestration and sense of form are evident throughout ...'
Madrigals from Monteverdi's Venice period, highly recommended. 'Paul Agnew and his famous choristers give highly exciting performances, with every poetic nuance exploited to maximum musical effect.'
Gergiev conducts Tchaikovsky's 'Nutcracker'. '... he delivers the big moments with overwhelming power.'
Art songs by Franz Liszt. 'Benjamin Brecher's sensitive performances are full of dramatic nuances and range of colour ...'
Choral music by Pierre de Manchicourt. 'David Shuler and his choristers deliver performances of outstanding clarity and precision ...'
Piano quintets by Granados and Turina, strongly recommended. '... an almost instinctive sense of interplay between the players ...'
Works by Schoenberg and Portera. 'Performances are satisfyingly macabre in Schoenberg's work, while Portera's piece is given a well-rounded and detailed interpretation.'
Piano music by Guy Ropartz. '... Stephanie McCallum simply floats her way through this music with subtlety and panache that fit Ropartz's harmonic language to perfection ...'
Orchestral music by Alexander Glazunov. '... disciplined, philosophical and electric interpretations ...'
Prokofiev's Symphonies Nos 4 and 7. 'Andrew Litton and his Bergen ensemble deliver some forceful performances full of exciting vigour ...'
Karl Jenkins' Cantata Memoria. '... a deeply moving experience ...'
Harp music from Xavier de Maistre. 'Performances are lusciously executed, and both soloist and orchestra are in perfect harmony ...'
Butterworth, Gurney and Warlock. '... the programme embraces all that is best of English song-writing in the initial phases of the twentieth century ...'
Erik Chisholm's opera 'Simoon'. '... Chisholm rises to the occasion with some spectacular music ...'
Baroque music from Dominique Labelle and Musica Pacifica stimulates Gerald Fenech. 'A beautiful issue that is as heartwarming as it is stimulating.'
The Christmas Story by Heinrich Schütz. '... lusciously presented ...'
Vocal duets by Schumann, Mendelssohn and Cornelius. 'The two soloists exude immaculate performances full of smooth, silky singing, where every nuance behind each word and note is brought to light ...'
Austro-Hungarian music for cello heard. '... as infectious as it is fastidious to every little detail and nuance of the music.'
James MacMillan sets the passion and burial of Christ. '... both singers and instrumentalists are on impeccable form, making for an insightful and focused experience.'
Music by Niccola Monti. '... distinctive and brilliant, rich in operatic and chromatic devices with an orchestration that is harmonically well-balanced and full of melodic touches of the utmost beauty.'
Stravinsky choral music, highly recommended. '... Stravinsky's blend of the mystic and mundane never ceases to astound.'
Music by Rautavaara. '... the singers' phrasing, harmonic direction and melodic sense all indicate how much this music is in their blood.'
Music for Advent from choir and saxophone. '... beautifully shaped in both the renaissance and contemporary repertoire ...'
Piano music by Leonid Sabaneyev. '... a triumph for Jonathan Powell ... compelling dedication and zest ...'
Caroline Howald's Ensemble Isabella d'Este. 'Performances are overflowing with impassioned commitment ...'
Music from Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. '... as absorbing as it is enticing.'
Florian Boesch sings Schubert. '... brimming with compelling moments of great yet gentle intimacy ...'
Thomas Coates' band music. '... highly polished performances full of fun and joy ...'
Masaaki Suzuki conducts Stravinsky. '... immaculately performed ...'
Trio Karénine plays Robert Schumann piano trios, and. '... commanding authority, rewarding depth and devil-may-care exuberance ...'
Orchestral music by Kevin Puts. '... compelling throughout ...'
Orchestral music by Jón Nordal surprises Gerald Fenech. '... austere yet mystic beauty.'
Marin Alsop conducts Prokofiev's Symphony No 6. 'The São Paolo Symphony Orchestra plays with a consummate passion for the music.'
Sacred music in seventeenth century Rome. '... performances of celestial beauty ...'
Osmo Vänskä's Sibelius Symphonies 3, 6 and 7. 'The Seventh is a superb exercise in momentum and continuity ...'
Symphonies 2 and 9. '... much to enjoy in the second symphony ...'
Purcell opera suites conducted by Neville Marriner. '... full-blown Purcellian splendour ...'
Lutoslawski and Brahms orchestral music grips Gerald Fenech. 'Peruvian conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya marshalls his Fort Worth forces with effortless control.'
J S Bach Violin Concertos. 'Manze and Podger give free reign to Bach's poetic inspiration ...'
Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale. '... a splendid complete version ...'
Sacred music by Jonathan Harvey. '... beautifully executed and recorded ...'
Sacred music by Gaetano Veneziano, highly recommended. '... this music took me completely by surprise ...'
William Christie's Les Arts Florissants. '... each piece comes to life with inimitable charm and grace.'
Organ music played by John Kitchen. '... a curiously varied programme ...'
Orchestral music by Enrique Granados. '... superbly played by the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra ...'
Symphonies by Per Nørgård impress Gerald Fenech. '... superlative performances ...'
Messiaen organ music. 'An excellent introduction to Messiaen's unique sound-world ...'
Music inspired by St Francis of Assisi. 'A heart-melting issue ...'
Ancient Scottish Highland music. 'Although not for the faint hearted, the rewards are great ...'
Mozart violin concerti. '... Kraggerud is most ably supported by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra ...'
Orchestral music by Granados. '... well crafted and very tuneful.'
American and British art songs. '... a cause for constant enjoyment.'
Piano music by Ronald Stevenson. 'Christopher Guild delivers impressively clear and assured performances ...'
Jean-François Paillard conducts J S Bach. '... this rendition consistently delights ...'
Music by Luigi Gazzotti. '... meltingly tender renditions ...'
Music from the lost palace of Westminster. '... gracefulness and musical conviction ...'
Benjamin Nicholas plays Elgar for organ. '... thought-provoking insights ...'
Orchestral music by Faradzh Karaev. 'Performances are committed throughout ...'
A recording dedicated to David Trendell. '... intelligence and deep musicality ...'
Balfe's 'Satanella'. '... a work made in Heaven, sparkling, joyous and overtly uplifting.'
Music by Antonio Lotti. '... excitement, poignancy and luscious harmonic sounds ...'
René Jacobs' Haydn Symphonies. '... great zest and alacrity.'
Todd Fickley plays J S Bach. '... amazing virtuosity ...'
Suites, canons and songs by Pachelbel. '... generously filled and sumptuously recorded.'
Sophie Rosa and Benjamin Powell. 'A wonderfully attractive recital ...'
Handel's Water Music. 'The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin plays with an undisguised love for the music ...'
Felix Weingartner's 'Die Dorfschule'. '... great attention to detail ...'
The Choir of Merton College, Oxford. '... beautifully moulded lines ...'
Robert King's 'Israel in Egypt'. '... the version to have ...'
Bernardo Pasquini's Passion Oratorio. '... a moving interpretation, full of ardent singing and impassioned energy ...'
Chopin piano music. '... a lovely and singing tone ...'
The Rochdale Town Hall organ. '... played with absorbing panache by Byram-Wigfield ...'
J S Bach's French Suites. '... exceptional readings full of profound emotional content, yet scholarly and alive.'
Weinberg orchestral music. '... deserving of serious consideration.'
Organ music by J S Bach and Pachelbel. '... Barbara Harbach gives a towering performance ...'
Songs with orchestra by Michael Csányi-Wills. 'A stimulating initiation ...'
Jules Massenet art songs captivate Gerald Fenech. 'Shudong Braamse has the perfect voice for this repertoire ...'
Orchestral music by Ottorino Respighi excites Gerald Fenech. '... passionately performed and sumptuously recorded ...'
Choral music by Ferenc Farkas. '... performances have a solemn dignity ...'
Chamber music by Joaquín Turina. '... wonderfully characterized and atmospheric readings ...'
Piano music by Niklas Sivelöv. '... marvelous technique and improvisational skills.'
Viola d'Amore concertos by Vivaldi. 'Rachel Barton Pine gives committed performances full of virtuosic brilliance ...'
Jewish cabaret music surprises Gerald Fenech. '... those who decide to take the plunge will be rewarded with riches aplenty.'
Schubert Lieder captivate Gerald Fenech. '... full of sensibility, ardour and vocal nuance ...'
Piano music by Edward Loder. 'Ian Hobson is a brilliant advocate of this sadly neglected repertoire ...'
Jazz piano etudes by Milan Dvorák. '... Milan Franek gives wonderfully lighthearted interpretations ...'
Paul Hillier conducts Arvo Pärt. '... performances of the most wondrous beauty.'
Renaissance Christmas choral music. '... performed with breathtaking freshness, balance and gracefulness ...'
Music by Fernando Lopes-Graça. 'Performances are wholly committed ...'
Gregory Rose's 'Danse Macabre'. '... intense realism.'
Overtures by Maurice Greene. 'Performances are unfussy but persuasive ...'
Music from the Baldwin Partbooks. 'The Marian Consort's delivery is clean, unembellished and wholly uplifting ...'
String music by Nigel Clarke. '... post-modern music through and through ...'
Music by Matvey Nikolaevsky. '... immensely enjoyable stuff ...'
Bartók piano music. 'American pianist Terry Eder despatches this difficult repertoire with great rhythmic vitality and expressive exuberance ...'
Sonatas by Francesco Barsanti. '... performances are consistently versatile, accurate and poetic.'
Songs by Berlioz, Chausson and Duparc. '... Soile Isokoski interprets this unique repertoire with eloquence and mastery ...'
Music by Max Bruch for violin and orchestra. '... Weithaas is a brilliant exponent ...'
Music for cello and orchestra. 'Jamie Walton exudes warm and committed performances ...'
Robert Anderson's 'Opera Nights and Nightmares'
Gerald Fenech returns to Festival Maribor in Slovenia
Early music for mezzo and viols. 'Performances are quintessentially flawless ...'
Vocal and choral music by Jaime León. 'Performances are unerringly fresh and balanced ...'
David McGuinness and friends. 'A beguiling issue in superb sound and catchy presentation.'
Music by Mykola Lysenko. '... superb craftsmanship ...'
Busoni piano music. '... gripping music making ...'
Music by Leif Solberg, strongly recommended. 'Unbridled and vibrantly committed performances ...'
Boccherini chamber music. '... exquisite stuff from beginning to end ...'
Piano music by Carl Loewe fascinates Gerald Fenech. 'In Linda Nicholson, Loewe has a wonderfully refreshing advocate.'
Chamber music by Robert Kahn. '... zealous advocates of Kahn's cause ...'
Vocal music by Olivier Messiaen. '... imaginative conducting ...'
Choral and vocal music by Penderecki. '... the momentum of Penderecki's creations is marvelously executed.'
Symphonies by Andrei Golovin. 'Sound and presentation are top notch.'
Gaetano Donizetti's 'La Favorite'. '... lovingly produced and passionately executed ...'
Choral music from Brazil appeals to Gerald Fenech. '... a strong touch of lyricism and a reverential approach ...'
Valentina Lisitsa plays Philip Glass, impressing Gerald Fenech. 'A must for all Glass enthusiasts ...'
Symphonies by Salomon Jadassohn. 'An enterprising issue in excellent sound ...'
The Usher Hall organ. 'John Kitchen oozes out every sound possible from this monster of an organ ...'
Works by Chopin written in 1846. 'A positive artistic experience ...'
John McCabe plays Nielsen. '... an exciting and forceful advocate ...'
Symphonies by Hoffmann and Witt. 'A winner in every department and an excellent introduction ...'
Agostino Steffani's 'Niobe, Regina di Tebe'. '... intense renditions full of dramatic power and feeling.'
Sokolov at Salzburg, strongly recommended. '... Sokolov's playing is mesmerizing throughout ...'
Organ music by William Faulkes. 'Duncan Ferguson's renditions are as enthralling as they are warmly expressive ...'
Early recordings by Nelson Freire impress Gerald Fenech. 'An ideal set for ... all who admire this truly great soloist.'
Music by Étienne Moulinié. 'The members of Ensemble Correspondances have these pieces under their skin ...'
Antonio Vivaldi flute concerti. 'Steger is a likeable exponent ...'
Choral music by Herbert Howells. '... glorious choral textures ...'
Orchestral works by the young Bartók. '... performances are consistently exciting ...'
Arias by Handel, Bononcini and Ariosti. 'Lawrence Zazzo has a bright and clear timbre ...'
Music inspired by the Virgin Mary. '... overflowing with a translucent beauty ...'
Gerald Fenech visits Slovenia's Festival Maribor
Passiontide music. 'An edifying programme in excellent sound and presentation ...'
The Dobson organ at Merton College
Harp music from early baroque Naples. 'Margret Köll's performances have an ethereal aura ...'
Sibelius tone poems enthrall Gerald Fenech. 'A magically enthralling foray into Finnish mythology.'
Cyprien Katsaris arranges Beethoven's 'Emperor' Concerto. '... unparalleled success ...'
Music by Marin Marais. 'Another triumph for Savall's seemingly inexhaustible musical genius.'
Purcell sonatas. '... irrepressibly elegant and restrained.'
Richard Strauss' 'Salome'. '... fine and emotionally sapping ...'
Orchestral music by Knecht and Philidor. 'Performances are consistently breezy and light-hearted ...'
Schubert symphonies. '... performances of unwavering focus ...'
Buxtehude from Magdalen College, Oxford. '... consistently refreshing and spontaneous ...'
Wagner's Götterdämmerung from La Scala Milan. 'The singing is at a constantly high level throughout ...'
Mary Costanza plays Bach. '... wholly impressive and full of lively ideas ...'
J S Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, impress Gerald Fenech. '... up there with the best.'
Tchaikovsky, known and unknown. '... a wondrous sense of joy ...'
René Jacobs' St Matthew Passion, strongly recommended. '... a power that almost sweeps you off your feet.'
Mark Padmore sings British vocal music. '... beautifully sung, recorded and presented ...'
Jacobean choral music. '... distinctive character and colour ...'
The Repast Baroque Ensemble. '... delectable performances ...'
Unknown music by Benjamin Britten
Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony. 'A strong competitor for the disc of the year ...'
Mahler arranged by Schoenberg. 'An unusual interpretation of "Das Lied" in excellent sound and presentation ...'
Orchestral music by Prokofiev. 'The São Paulo Symphony respond with great sensitivity ...'
Mendelssohn and Schumann violin concertos. '... Barton Pine's heartfelt response to both slow movements is full of tonal beauty ...'
Personal memories of Liverpool's Playhouse Theatre
Gerald Fenech enjoys his visit to Festival Maribor in Slovenia
Janáček's Cunning Little Vixen
A Joan Sutherland portrait. '... a fitting tribute to the singing legend from Australia ...'
Spanish early music in the new world. 'All thirty tracks have a charm of their own ...'
Jean Richafort's Requiem. '... worthy of the most scrupulous investigation.'
Choral works by Samuel Sebastian Wesley. 'Soloists and choral singing are of the utmost quality ...'
Pergolesi's 'L'Olimpiade'. '... sound and visuals are top-drawer stuff.'
Music from eighteenth century Mexico. 'A peach of a disc ...'
Couperin's Lamentations. 'Robert King and his superb forces give absorbingly committed performances ...'
Orchestral music by Joachim Raff. '... very well portrayed by Järvi ... and the Suisse Romande Orchestra ...'
Hymn tunes played by William Neil. '... spectacular and life enhancing ...'
Sacred music by Antonio Maria Bononcini. '... an issue that oozes beauty ...'
Magdalena Kozená's Carmen. '... sheer and utter brilliance in every department.'
Music for Advent intrigues Gerald Fenech. '... one of the discs of the year as far as choral music is concerned ...'
Carl Orff's 'Gisei'. 'An exciting discovery ...'
Rossini's 'Le Comte Ory'. 'Joyce DiDonato, as Ory's promiscuous young page Isolier, is absolutely irrepressible ...'
Christine Brewer and Roger Vignoles. '... a gamut of emotions which are superbly handled ...'
A recital by Alice Coote and Graham Johnson. '... interpreted with great zest and passion ...'
Karl Jenkins' 'The Peacemakers'. '... some rather inspired music.'
Simon Rattle's new Bruckner 9. '... polished and vigorous performances ...'
Michala Petri plays English recorder concertos. '... nimble fingering and miraculous breath control ...'
Choral music by Bob Chilcott. '... the singing has a transcendent quality ...'
Lukaszewski's 'Via Crucis'. '... palpable nobility ...'
Music by Vittorio Giannini. '... dispatched with a technical brilliance ...'
Verdi's 'Macbeth' from Covent Garden. '... almost unbearable intensity and shimmering sonority.'
Symphonies by Howard Hanson. 'The recordings are excellent on all counts ...'
Music for flute and organ. '... mastery, panache and a sense of balance that is almost uncanny.'
New dance to Tchaikovsky. 'Sound and visuals are first-rate.'
German Baroque from the Hanoverian Ensemble. '... another treasure trove of wonderful music ...'
A recital on Exeter Cathedral's organ. '... Millington on fine form ...'
The Vienna Boys Choir in the Far East. '... a refreshingly different portrait of this hugely versatile group ...'
Rimsky-Korsakov orchestral suites. '... the music is dear to the heart of these players ...'
Arrangements of Dvorák songs recommended. 'The intense rapport between both artists can immediately be felt ...'
Spirituals, hymns and folk music. '... I have nothing but praise for the whole enterprise.'
Minkus' 'Don Quijote' from the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. '... gorgeous sound and visuals.'
Ravel songs. '... utter conviction ...'
CD Spotlight. Spiritual Outpourings. Alexander Romanovsky plays Rachmaninov. '... passion and elegance.'
Gerald Fenech visits Slovenia for Festival Maribor
An organ recital by SooHwang Choi. '... expressive beauty.'
Petrenko conducts Shostakovich. '... very much on the ball ...'
Baroque music in Poland. '... very fine interpretations ...'
Eniko Magyar plays English viola music. '... beautifully executed and superbly recorded ...'
Ruthanne Schempf plays American piano music. '... her performances are fresh and immediate ...'
Orchestral music by Richard Strauss. '... highly recommended ...'
Vaughan Williams' piano concerto. 'Highly recommended ...'
Friedrich Klose's 'Ilsebill'. '... a risky yet rewarding adventure ...'
A documentary on Puccini's 'Madame Butterfly'. '... riveting stuff ...'
Vocal music by Jacobus Vaet. '... a gorgeous disc on all counts ...'
Donizetti's 'Lucrezia Borgia'. 'Dimitra Theodossiou's Lucrezia rivals that of many of her illustrious predecessors ...'
Harpsichord music by Israeli composers. '... admirably played ...'
String Quartets by Szymanowski and Rózycki
Orchestral music by Debussy
Music by Guillaume Dufay
String chamber music by Imogen Holst
Violin concertos by Nikolay Roslavets impress Gerald Fenech
Music by Julius Röntgen
Solo sonatas by Benedetto Marcello
John Bell Young's survey of the Beethoven symphonies
Marin Alsop conducts Dvorák
Gerald Fenech enjoyed the revival of a forgotten Haydn opera
Outstanding Slav Passion
Old-fashioned Mozart - another Karajan review from Gerald Fenech
Gerald Fenech reviews Richard Osborne's HERBERT VON KARAJAN: A Life in Music
Gerald Fenech reviews Karajan's recording of Balakirev and Roussel symphonies
Gerald Fenech reviews Thomas Kalb's Vanhal symphonies
Gerald Fenech reviews Symposium Records' CD transfer of 1940s Toscanini recordings