Taken together, these four pieces showcase a composer whose handling of the orchestra is expert and whose sense of form, in these works at least, feels unerringly right.
Discs dedicated to overlooked composers Harold Shapero and Peter Lieberson are well worth your attention. Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra don’t do well by Charles Ives’ final symphony, but the three preceding symphonies fare better.
François-Xavier Roth and his period ensemble Les Siècles serve up freshness of playing and conviction of interpretation; Manfred Honeck is a conductor who can draw compelling, electrifying accounts of the standard canon as if on cue; the verdict’s mixed on the music of Lithuanian-born composer Mikalojus Čiurlionis.
James MacMillan’s Viola Concert is a magnificent addition to the repertoire; the debut recording of Magnus Lindberg’s song cycle Accused leaves a bit to be desired; a fetching, brilliant gathering of orchestral music by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett.
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.
Markus Maskuniitty’s solo debut recording is stunning, Howard Shelley and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra play Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto with zest, and this is one of the strongestNew Year’s Concerts of the decade from the Vienna Philharmonic.
Pianist Kirill Gerstein’s take on Busoni is exhilarating; the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra serves the forceful music of composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann, and violinist Elina Vähälä does right by Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto.
Pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet delivers some fine Mozart; conductor Hannu Lintu brings rhythmic energy and textural transparency to the music of Witold Lutoslawski; Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra don’t do right by Berlioz.
Conductor Aapo Häkkinen explores Robert Schumann’s writing for chorus;Andrew Manze caps off his three-volume Mendelssohn symphony survey with a glorious performance of the oddball Symphony no. 2.
Superb discs from pianist Lars Vogt, violinist Francesca Dego, pianist Denis Kozhukhin, and violinist James Ehnes on the viola.