The practice of re-using large chunks of an opera for a new plot and new words may sound implausible to us, but in Rossini’s hands the result is delightful and surprisingly coherent.
Lovers of American music, don’t miss Aspects of America: The Pulitzer Edition ; Lindberg’s recording of Leonard Bernstein’s first two symphonies lacks a compelling command of the musician’s singular voice; the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra tackles four pieces by Morton Gould.
Diana Tishchenko’s a violinist well worth keeping an eye on; Jun Märkl leads the MSO in brisk, shapely readings of pieces by Saint-Saëns; Françoix-Xavier Roth and Les Siecles come up with some winning Berlioz.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once much-performed, then banished from the stage by the Nazis, The Miracle of Heliane, now available in a fine new recording, is perhaps the best opera by the man who would become one of Hollywood’s leading composers.
A freshly thought through, energetically executed Berlioz disc; a lovely album that contains excellent performances of underperformed and unfamiliar repertoire that deserves to be heard and championed; a fine, sometimes inspired account of Respighi.