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.
Handel & Haydn Society’s Haydn and Mozart is about as good as it gets; Martyn Brabbins’ recording of A Sea Symphony is one of the year’s best releases; and for elegance and technical command, you can’t go wrong with Tilson Thomas and his San Francisco Symphony.
Aspects of America, from the Oregon Symphony and its music director Carlos Kalmar, is at once superbly played, astutely programmed, and aesthetically necessary.
The San Francisco Symphony delivers performances of chamber-like sensitivity and remarkable transparency.
Mason Bates’ music isn’t afraid to smile. If it doesn’t always run deep, it’s at least always engaging and pleasant to encounter.
Beethoven’s Mass in C is the highlight. Would that the San Francisco Symphony’s performance of the Third Concerto had more electricity.