John Nelson’s La Damnation de Faust is a triumph; you will rarely encounter Villa-Lobos played with greater understanding or in better sound than here; Paavo Järvi and his orchestra’s survey of Messiaen orchestral works early and late is resplendent.
Classical music continued to thrive, locally and globally, in 2019.
The Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra’s first appearance of the season presented canonical selections without a hint of complacency or apathy.
Michael Tilson Thomas delivers a towering Ives Fourth; pianist Conrad Tao’s American Rage is hard-edged and defiant, but also poignant and stirring; Gianandrea Noseda’s Shostakovich Fourth is ferocious.
A noteworthy recording of Ernst von Dohnányi’s Symphony no. 1; as usual, Harry Christophers and the Handel & Haydn Society play Haydn with their customary elegance and character; a celebration of British composer Eric Coates – his music’s impossibly fresh tunefulness, striking progressions, and vividly idiomatic orchestrations.
Violinist Liza Ferschtman and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra’s account of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto lacked nothing for momentum and spirit.
Terrific, fiery playing from George Li, one of the most compelling young pianists on the scene; Mariss Jansons’ recording of Shostakovich’s Tenth trudges from start to finish; irrefutable proof of Andris Nelsons’ excellence as a new-music conductor.
Simon Rattle’s Bruckner is, on the whole, lean and lively; if you’re looking for a new Mahler Four, Vladimir Jurowski’s is the one to check out; Thierry Fischer leads performances of each symphony that take Saint-Saëns’ writing seriously.
In the right hands, Shostakovich’s Twelfth can come off as nothing less than an intriguing, lively symphonic essay.
Marc Minkowski’s recording of Jacques Offenbach’s La Périchole pays the composer a handsome tribute in his birthday year; violinist Baiba Skride’s new all-Bartók disc is one of the year’s best.