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.
Mariss Jansons’ ultimate performance, taped live at Carnegie Hall, shows the maestro at the top of his game; François-Xavier Roth’s new recording of pieces by Ravel and Debussy is a bit of a hit-or-miss affair; Diana Damrau’s Tudor Queens, a survey of heroines from three Donizetti operas, is nothing short of terrific.
Nothing to recommend in Daniel Lozakovich’s take on the Beethoven Violin Concerto, but Midori’s performance of the piece is completely unpretentious, natural, and exciting. Gidon Kremer & friends serve up a terrifically flexible version of Carl Reinecke’s adaptation of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto.
Composer Anna Clyne’s new disc displays her maturity as a composer and brilliance as an orchestrator; pianist Simone Dinnerstein builds a number of bridges between Philip Glass and Franz Schubert; pianist Hélène Grimaud’s interesting program is marred by some uneven Mozart.