Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Top 10 Discs for 2015

Here is my Top 10 list of classical discs for 2015. [with a last-minute addition! 11 for the price of 10]

1. Honegger: Jeanne d’Arc

Marc Soustrot and the Barcelona Symphony & Catalonia National Orchestra present Arthur Honegger and Paul Claudel's fascinating oratorio about Jeanne d'Arc, with an impressive cast of solo singers. But the standout in this Blu ray disc is a non-singing actor who plays Jeanne, Marion Cotillard. This is an amazing performance that had me in tears.

2. 1615 Gabrieli in Venice

Beautiful music and amazing surround sound. Though falsettists might be more authentic, I prefer the sound the trebles, both in the chorus and in solos. Stephen Cleobury has hit a home run with this recording.

3. Cavalli: L’amore innamorato

And I see I never got around to reviewing this fine CD with Christina Pluhar and L'Arpeggiata. Coming Real Soon Now.

4. Blue Heron: Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks v.4

The final disc in this great series. Looking forward to the upcoming Ockeghem series from this excellent group.

5. NYPO: Nielsen Concertos

The highlight of the Nielsen Year: the final disc in Alan Gilbert's great series of orchestral music celebrating Nielsen's 150th Anniversary.  The Flute and Clarinet concertos are so vital, and this recording confirms to me that Nielsen's Violin Concerto belongs on a very short list of great 20th century works.

6. Sletternes Sonner

I heard a fair amount of Nielsen this year, and this was the icing on the cake. Peter Jensen's arrangements show a light touch, and a deep regard for the composer. Have a listen:




7. Richard Strauss: At the End of the Rainbow

I loved Erik Schulz's 2011 film Eric Kleiber: Traces to Nowhere, and this new film shows again that Schulz is a major talent in film documentaries.

8. Kazu Suwa: Guitar Recital

The London-based guitarist hits all the right notes from album concept, (literally) through to the studio. I'd love to hear his complete Villa-Lobos Etudes and Preludes.

9. The Tsar’s Bride

I watched a fair number of opera DVDs and Blu rays this year, and this was the farthest-out and most interesting. In Dmitri Tcherniakov's update of Rimsky-Korsakov's opera, corporate functionaries replace secret policemen and Ivan the Terrible is reconstructed as a virtual character in front of a green screen. The concept was at least as interesting as the original opera.

10. Dvorak & Lalo: Cello Concertos


Johannes Moser's playing is outstanding, but it was the Super Audio sound that really grabbed me in this Pentatone disc.

BIS. King Roger

Here's an encore addition of the list: the new Blu-ray of the Royal Opera's production of Szymanowski's great opera.


Other discs I enjoyed this year:



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