Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Music for the holidays

Giving the gift of music should be a priority this holiday season.  To help you along, I have assembled the following list of my favorite albums from the last twelve months. 

Works of Igor Stravinsky - This 22 cd set is perhaps the best classical bargain out there right now.  For a mere $31 you get all of the recordings Igor Stravinsky made with CBS.  Even though most of the music dates from the late-1950's and 1960's, the remastering is excellent.  The only downside is the meager booklet included.

Red Violin Concerto - This disk marked the return of the Baltimore Symphony to the album shelves.  The live recording this album is derived from marked the premiere performance of John Corigliano's Red Violin Concerto, a four movement work built out of Corigliano's music for the movie the Red Violin.  As a bonus, there is Corigliano's Violin Sonata.  Joshua Bell and Marin Alsop are in splendid form. 

Brahms Symphony No.4 - Marin Alsop wraps up her cycle of the Brahms Symphonies in solid form.  It's not a definitive recording by any stretch of the imagination.  The disk does reveal the versatility of the conductor who is too often perceived as someone only proficient in American and contemporary music.

Aho Clarinet Concerto - Martin Frost is an amazing clarinet virtuoso.  His recordings on BIS have all been good.  This recording of Kalevi Aho's Clarinet Concerto is no different.  In addition to being able to witness the clarinet wizardry of Frost, you get to also hear a work by an impressive contemporary classical voice. 

Wagner/Stokowski - This recent Naxos release is in my cd player a lot.  Wagner's operatic music has been synthesized into seamless orchestral form.  Serebrier and the Bournemouth Symphony do justice to the "Stokowski sound" and Wagner's trademark lushness. 

Mahler Symphony No.5 -  I like this album only because of Dudamel.  It is certainly not the best Mahler 5 out there.  Other recent releases are better in my opinion.  This one gets a nod because, like Alsop's Brahms, Dudamel's facility with a musical monument like the Mahler 5 is outstanding.

Brundibar - Gerard Schwarz and Seattle's Music of Remembrance perform Krasa's rarely heard Holocaust era opera.

Oceana - Osvaldo Golijov's recent release is splendid.  Nuff said.                   

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