10 Outstanding CD Releases in 2009

Rather than “best of”,  I offer the 10 CD releases of 2009 that gave me the most pleasure. Read through this and then send in your own choices. I learn so much music that’s new to me by paying attention to what others listen to and enjoy. I hope you enjoy these:

In no particular order:

1. Sacrificium: Cecilia Bartoli-the luminous Italian mezzo performs bartolimusic written for the castrati, the stars of 17th and 18th century opera. Music by Broschi, Caldara, Graun, Porpora.  With Il giardino armonico conducted by Giovanni Antonini. LONDON/DECCA 001341202

Here’s an aria from Porpora’s Semiramide riconosciuta

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2. Schubert: Winterreise with Mark Padmore, tenor and Paul Lewis, piano. See Jennifer Hambrick’s compelling review elsewhere on this blog. Finally, a young protagonist for Schubert’s final, haunting work. HARMONIA MUNDI USA BOO2DMIIU2

Schubert: Die Post

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3. Arthur Foote: Francesca da Rimini, Suite in E major; Air and footeGavotte; Four Character Pieces after the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Gerard Schwarz conducts the Seattle Symphony. Arthur Foote (1853-1937) was part of a Boston -based group of composers active from the late 19th into the early 20th centuries that came to be known as “The Second New England School.” They are played little and studied less, but Gerard Schwarz makes a good case for the power and beauty of Foote’s music, if not always its originality. NAXOS 8. 559365

4. Villa-Lobos: The Complete Choros and Bachianas Brasileiras. Sao Paolo Symphony conducted by Roberto Minczuk and John Neschling. All of these works by South America’s best known composer in one box, from  fire to passion and more fire. Villa-Lobs is a composer worth knowing better.  BIS CD 1830/32

Bachianas Brasileiras 1: Fuga

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5. Mozart: Idomeneo. Mozart’s opera seria from 1781 is about a king iidomeneowho must sacrifice his own son. Rene Jacobs conducts a perfectly balanced performance, neither ranting nor precious. With Richard Croft, Bernarda Fink, Luca Tittoto and Alexandrina Pendatchanska.  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and the RIAS Chamber Choir.  HARMONIA MUNDI  902036.38

Act II chorus: Placido e il mar (The Sea is Tranquil)

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6. Handel: Harpsichord Suites, 1720. The eight “great” suites played by Chicago born Jory Vinikour. DELOS DE 3394

Handel: Suite in e , Gigue

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7. Thomas Ades: The Tempest. My operatic discovery for 2009, this beautiful opera is based on Shakespeare’s play.  The Tempest cries out to be a live HD presentation when the Metropolitan Opera performs this opera in 2012. The recording comes from the Royal Opera, Covent Garden conducted by the composer, with Simon Keenlyside, Cyndia Sieden, Ian Bostridge and Toby Spence. You’ll laugh and cry, sometimes on the same page.  EMI 50999 6 95234 2

8. Beethoven: Fidelio. With performances by Furtwaengler, Bernstein, Flagstad, Nilsson, Karajan and Vickers (to name a few) does the world really need another recording of Beethoven’s only opera? It needs this one. A tightly performed,  highly dramatic account from England’s Glyndebourne Festival. Its a performance that will end just as you think its getting started, and you’ll want to play it right over again. London Philharmonic conducted by Mark Elder, with Anja Kampe as Leonore and Torsten Kerl as Florestan. Glyndebourne GFOCD 004-06

9. Stile Antico, Song of Songs: music by Palestrina, Gombert, Lassus, stile-anticoVictoria. Choral chamber music from the High Renaissance sung with joy and passion-and precision, but not precious-by the British based ensemble Stile Antico. HARMONIA MUNDI USA HMU 807489

Palestrina: Osculetur me

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10. Berlioz: The Trojans. I’ll never forget James Levine’s 2004 performances of Berlioz’s Les troyens at the Met with the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Ben Heppner and Deborah Voigt. But they got it from somewhere and here’s the source: the famous 1957 staging at London’s Royal Opera, Covent Garden,  conducted by Raphael Kubelik (staged by John Gielgud).  It was said that Kubleik knew more about Les troyens than Berlioz himself. It was this series of performances that brought the grandest of all French operas firmly into the 20th century. Now, the performance is published for the first time, sung in English as The Trojans. Never mind. Lucky the audience in 1957 hearing this opera for the first time! With Jon Vickers at the beginning of his career, and the under estimated American mezzo Blanche Thebom at the crest of hers. Raphael Kubelik conducts the Orchestra and chorus of the Royal Opera, itrojans1Covent Garden. TESTAMENT BOO27REDRA

Berlioz: The Trojans, chorus  Act III “Hail, all hail to the Queen”

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HONORABLE MENTION:

Roberto Sierra: Missa Latina ‘Pro Pace’ and other works. Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Andreas Delfs. NAXOS 8.559624

Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem; James Levine conducting the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and the Boston Symphony. BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA BOO1VPJZOA

JAZZ NOCTURNE: The Collected Piano Music of Dana Suesse, Sara Davis Buechner, piano. E1 MUSIC. KIC-CD-7770

Beethoven: Complete Works for Cello and Piano, with Heinrich Schiff, cello and Till Fellner, piano. BRILLIANT CLASSICS  93895

Deems Taylor: Peter Ibbetson, with Anthony Dean Griffey and Lauren Flanigan. Seattle Symphony conducted by Gerard Schwarz.  Composer Deems Taylor invented classical music broadcsting. Peter Ibbetson was a hit in the 1930s. This is the first revival of this worthy score.  NAXOS 8.669016-17

OKAY,  LET’S HAVE YOUR VOTE NOW!

–Christopher Purdy

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