There was nothing sleepy or commonplace about the ensemble’s performance of favorites by Mozart, Brahms, and Bartók.
Christian Tetzlaff’s brilliant account of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto makes for a great album; Rachel Barton Pine’s versions of Dvorák and Khachaturian violin concertos are songful; orchestrally, Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra’s Sigfried is unfailingly colorful and fresh.
To Paradise for Onions is a lovely album; Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra ‘s Transatlantic is spirited; Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Die Zauberflöte is lost in the crowd.
That rarest of Opening Nights: a program that was mostly fun and entertaining, but also substantive and artistically satisfying.
Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic do justice to a lot of Tchaikovsky’s orchestral music, while John Eliot Gardiner and the London Symphony play Robert Schumann’s famously-dense orchestrations with clarity. But Michael Stern’s account of The Planets completely lacks mystery.
Julia Wolfe’s Fire in my mouth is one of 2019’s most memorable recordings; Donnacha Dennehy’s The Hunger, a meditation on the Irish potato famine of the mid-19th-century, leaves an indelible impression; Derek Bermel’s Migrations is a grand celebration of one of America’s great living composer at the top of his game.
I’ve compiled a list of twelve concerts (or concert series) that I think will stand among the future season’s highlights.
Nancy Dalberg’s string quartets are worth getting to know, Wynton Marsalis’s violin concerto receives an electrifying performance, and Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra continue to churn out a less than necessary Mahler cycle.
Herbert Blomstedt conducts a powerful version of Mahler’s valedictory essay, organist Christopher Jacobson provides a so-so “Organ” Symphony, and Kirill Petrenko’s initial recording as the chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic is lovely.
A can’t-miss album of Bartók Ballets, Thierry Fischer continues to do right by the symphonies of Saint-Saëns, and a spirited recording of the “last great symphony in the German Romantic tradition.”