In the spirit of Jim Tobin's review, I'll offer my own list of CDs,
concerts, and books on music that made me happy. Links to fuller reviews
if I wrote any.
No question about it, the standout concert for me this year was choral.
Conspirare, an Austin-based professional ensemble and a this-year Grammy
nominee, presented Daniel-Lesur's Song of Songs, a sensuous, multi-movement
a cappella choral work, and Alexander Gretchaninov's Midnight Vigil,
today overshadowed by the Rachmaninoff Vespers. Somehow conductor Craig
Hella Johnson got hold of two incredible basses, who provided a firm
foundation for the rest of the choir. They actually sang pitches from
20,000 leagues under the sea, rather than belched or merely rumbled.
Thrilling! The rest of the choral work, sumptuous, precise, and excitingly
Puccini Without Excuses, by William Berger. An entertaining look at
a composer who still gives critics fits. For the most part, Berger
has his head screwed on straight.
Bernstein. Peter Pan. At last! The complete score to a work Bernstein
himself seemed to have forgotten. Filled with great tunes and wit.
Brahms. Violin Sonatas. Richard Kapp's last recording, made just before
he died of cancer. There's great emotional depth and an unmistakable
quality of "looking back." With violinist Mela Tenenbaum.
Carter. Dialogues. Boston Concerto. Cello Concerto. AKSO Concerto.
Persuasive, deeply musical performances of a composer who revels in
difficulty. These performances give you a shot with a major American
composer. Bridge 9184
Flagello. Piano Concerto #1. Dante's Farewell. Concerto Sinfonico.
A modern concerto that has a real shot at popularity. Parts of it remind
me of Rachmaninoff's second - that kind of thematic strength. This is
its first recording, fifty years after the premiere, and Tatiana Rankovich's
performance is a knockout. Naxos 8.559296
Haydn. Die Schoepfung.
Schoenberg: Piano Concerto. Piano Music by Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg.
Uchida and Boulez give the best account of this late masterpiece I've
heard. They make music rather than lecture you. Philips 468033-2.
Simpson. String Quartet #13. String Quintet #2. Clarinet Quintet.
Chamber music by a master composer in committed performances and fabulous
Simpson. Symphonies 3 & 5. Two early-ish symphonies by one of the best.
Zaimont. Selected Works. A selection of Zaimont's works inspired by
Judaism, including excerpts from her Sacred Service, the best of the
genre I've heard since Bloch. A composer who should be much better
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