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.
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.
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.
Anniversaries are both the bane and the lifeblood of the classical music industry as, for better or worse, three new box sets remind.
Violinist Viktoria Mullova supplies one of the year’s most programmatically-cohesive and thoughtfully-executed albums.
Pražák Quartet’s Smetana is keeper, Sir Simon Rattle’s Haydn is a loser, and Lindberg’s “On the Waterfront” is a knockout.