My Father Knew Charles Ives and Harmonielehre make an excellent pairing on the Nashville Symphony Orchestra’s new, all-Adams album led by music director Giancarlo Guerrero.
Sir Adrian Boult certainly had his ups and downs as a conductor, but these performances showcase him largely at his best.
The pandemic may have largely shut down live musical performances for 2020, but the recording industry remained alive and very active these past twelve months.
A captivating and thought-provoking version of Missa solemnis from René Jacobs and his forces; the Michael Gielen Edition is one of this Beethoven anniversary-year’s highlights.
Calidore String Quartet’s Babel is one of the year’s best albums; Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Mass for the Endangered offers an unsettling and beautifully direct rethinking of the traditional Roman liturgy; for John Luther Adams fans – and the Adams-curious – Become Trilogy is a must.
Daniil Trifonov’s Silver Age pays bracing tribute to fin-de-siecle and post-Revolutionary Russian music; Jonathan Leshnoff’s Third Symphony is smartly-written and affecting. What happens when tenors Lawrence Brownlee and Michael Spyres team up for an album of duets and ensembles from various Rossini operas? Fireworks.
Violinist James Ehnes and pianist Andrew Armstrong’s Beethoven violin sonatas feel and sound absolutely right; Quatuor Ébène’s comes up with one of this anniversary year’s few, true benchmark releases; Nikolai Lugansky’s traversal of three of Beethoven’s late piano sonatas is often admirable.
Uri Caine’s score about the life and murder of a 19th-century civil rights icon is direct and potent; touching documentation of Richard Pittman’s advocacy for the inventive composer Bernard Hoffer and a demonstration of the sheer musical excellence of Boston Musica Viva; Igor Levit’s keyboard playing is dynamic, precisely articulated, vividly felt, and beautifully voiced.
One of Vasily Petrenko’s most successful Elgar releases; there’s an edge to the Crouch End Festival Chorus’ performance of Britten’s Saint Nicolas ; Quartetto di Cremona’s new album is nothing if not overflowing with Mediterranean personality
Seiji Ozawa’s Symphony no. 7 and Leonore Overture no. 3 offers a memorable blend of color, atmosphere, purpose, and soul; François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles serve up a satisfactory, period-instrument Symphony no. 5; Thomas Adès’ take on Beethoven is concentrated and energetic, if a bit impersonal.