Every day, WFMT enjoys sharing with you the wealth of great classical recordings from the past and present. 2010 saw an incredible range of offerings from labels both large and small. Here are 25 of our favorites from the past year. Enjoy, and best wishes for 2011!
Old World/New World – Music of Dvořák
Emerson String Quartet
The 2010 release from the Emerson String Quartet, winner of 9 Grammys, is an album of works never recorded during the course of their 30-year career. It features the Emerson’s favorite Dvořák middle and late string quartets and also includes the youthful and infrequently performed quartet version of a song cycle, Cypresses.
Deutsche Grammophon B0014106-02
Sondra Radvanovsky, soprano; Philharmonia of Russia/Constantine Orbelian
Berwyn native Sondra Radvanovsky has been a favorite on the stage of Lyric Opera of Chicago for several seasons. With this recording, we see why she is considered to be one of today’s finest interpreters of the operas of Verdi. She performs arias from her signature roles and from some new ones she hopes to take on soon.
Whitacre: Choral Music
Elora Festival Singers/Noel Edison
Eric Whitacre is now the unquestioned superstar of American choral composers. His marriage of poetry with beauty of sound creates a unique and enchanting sonic world. A wide selection of his most well-known music is brilliantly captured on this CD by the Elora Festival Singers of Canada.
Liszt: Transcendental Etudes
Alice Sara Ott, piano
Alice Sara Ott has made an unusual specialty of performing Liszt’s twelve Transcendental Etudes and has already won praise for her live performances in Germany and Switzerland. Her debut recording on Deutsche Grammophon is a stunning display of virtuosity in this most daunting of piano cycles.
Deutsche Grammophon B0014473-02
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto #3; Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Denis Matsuev, piano; Mariinsky Orchestra/Valery Gergiev
Since winning the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1998, Denis Matsuev has established a reputation as one of Russia’s most dynamic pianists. Matsuev is particularly renowned for his interpretations of music by Russian composers and has collaborated with the Sergei Rachmaninoff Foundation.
Golijov: La Pasión según San Marcos
Vocal Soloists; Schola Cantorum of Venezuela; Orquesta La Pasión; Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela/María Guinand
Regarded as one of the great works of the first decade of this century, Osvaldo Golijov’s thrilling piece is a unique chronicle of the Passion of St. Mark. It combines multiple influences and relies heavily on voices and percussion in styles familiar in Cuba and Brazil. The work was hailed as ground-breaking at its 2000 world-premiere, and it continues to inspire new audiences.
Deutsche Grammophon B0014008-00
German Opera Arias
Jonas Kaufmann, tenor; Mahler Chamber Orch/Claudio Abbado
Jonas Kaufmann is now established as one of the most successful and versatile tenors of his generation, attracting rave reviews for his live performances and recordings. Singing in his native language, Kaufmann presents a selection of arias from German opera. Claudio Abbado directs the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Arnold Schoenberg Choir.
Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring)
Revueltas: La noche de los mayas (Night of the Maya)
Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela/Gustavo Dudamel
Gustavo Dudamel and his orchestra radiate youthful energy in this thrilling performance of Stravinsky’s landmark work. It’s paired with the lesser-known Night of the Maya by the Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas. Both pieces are depictions of pagan rituals and showcase lush orchestration and dynamic rhythms.
Deutsche Grammophon B0014281-02
Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin
Mark Padmore, tenor; Paul Lewis, piano
After a much lauded recording of Winterreise, Mark Padmore and Paul Lewis continue their Schubert series with Die schöne Müllerin. These two artists bring a touching, insightful approach to Schubert’s first song-cycle, which follows a lovelorn young man on a melancholy journey of false hope.
Harmonia Mundi HMU-907519
Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet
London Symphony Orchestra/Valery Gergiev
Valery Gergiev, a master of Prokofiev’s music, has issued his second complete recording of one of the 20th century’s great ballets. This is a live performance from 2008 in London. Gergiev brings forth a full-blooded, dramatic reading balanced by warmth and tenderness in the more romantic passages of the score.
LSO Live 0682
Mahler: Songs With Orchestra
Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano; Thomas Hampson, baritone; San Francisco Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas
Susan Graham and Thomas Hampson, two of today’s great Mahler singers, join Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony in the final album of the award-winning Mahler cycle on the orchestra’s own label. The selections from Des Knaben Wunderhorn are the composer’s take on folk tunes, and the Songs of a Wayfarer tell of young love lost.
San Francisco Symphony 821936-0036-2
Russian Music for Cello & Piano
Wendy Warner, cello; Irina Nuzova, piano
The duo of cellist Wendy Warner and pianist Irina Nuzova makes its debut with beautiful performances of five late-Romantic Russian works. Their album (recorded at WFMT) is dedicated to the memory of one of Warner’s mentors, the illustrious Russian cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich.
Cedille CDR 90000 120
The Italian Tenor
Vittorio Grigolo, tenor; Teatro Regio di Parma Chorus & Orchestra/Pier Giorgio Morandi
Vittorio Grigolo impressed audiences with his performances at the Metropolitan Opera and Covent Garden in 2010. His debut album is a mix of familiar arias from 19th-century opera and a few lesser-known excerpts. Throughout, he gives us warm, lyrical singing in fine Italian style, heralding an exciting new voice on the operatic scene.
Sony Classical 75257-2
Mi Alma Mexicana (My Mexican Soul)
Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas/Alondra de la Parra
Alondra de la Parra founded the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas in 2004. It’s an impressive group of young musicians who hail from 22 different countries. The occasion for this two-disc set was the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence. De la Parra researched Mexico’s musical heritage and selected works from diverse periods of the country’s history.
Sony Classical 755552
Chopin: Complete Songs
Aleksandra Kurzak, soprano; Mariusz Kwiecień, baritone; Nelson Goerner, fortepiano
Polish singers Aleksandra Kurzak and Mariusz Kwiecień celebrated the Chopin bicentennial in 2010 by recording his complete songs. This project for the Fryderyck Chopin Institute was part of an intriguing and illuminating series devoted to playing the composer’s music on instruments from his time.
Fryderyk Chopin Institute NIFCCD-016
Anne Akiko Meyers, violin; Reiko Uchida, piano
Seasons…Dreams is anchored by Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 5, “Spring.” This sets the stage for a series of lyrical pieces inspired by songs and poems which take us on a journey through the seasons and into reverie. Meyers presents familiar songs in unique arrangements and unexpected melodies mixed with traditional classical works.
E1 Entertainment 7780
Shostakovich: Symphony #8 in C minor, Op. 65
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko
Written during World War II, the unusually constructed Eighth Symphony is a powerful work built on striking contrasts. Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic continue their acclaimed series of the Shostakovich symphonies with a reading that brings out the differences between music which is at times unremittingly bleak and at others brutally intense.
Barbara Frittoli, soprano; Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano; Mario Zeffiri, tenor; Ildar Abdrazakov, bass; Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/Riccardo Muti
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra inaugurated Riccardo Muti’s tenure as music director with one of the most anticipated releases of the year—Verdi’s Requiem, featuring the Chicago Symphony Chorus and four outstanding soloists. Recorded live from sold-out concerts, this stunning performance brilliantly captures both the pathos and passion of Verdi’s masterpiece.
CSO Resound 901 1008
Brahms: Violin Sonatas
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin; Lambert Orkis, piano
Anne-Sophie Mutter first recorded these sonatas over a quarter century ago (at the age of nineteen) for EMI. Mutter’s return to this repertoire shows an even deeper maturity and musicality. She is joined by her long-time recital partner, Lambert Orkis, who provides his usual sensitive collaboration.
Deutsche Grammophon B0014767-02
Ravel: Piano Concertos
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano; Cleveland Orchestra/Pierre Boulez
This all-Ravel disc features French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard and conductor Pierre Boulez. The two artists have collaborated together for years, and now they give masterful accounts of Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand and Concerto for Piano in G major. To complete the album, Aimard performs Miroirs for solo piano.
Deutsche Grammophon 477 8770
Telemann: The Complete Tafelmusik
Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Gottfried von der Goltzf
Tafelmusik (table music) is a term used since the mid-16th century for music played at feasts and banquets. Composed in 1733, Telemann’s Tafelmusik has been compared to the renowned Brandenburg Concertos of Bach. Over four CDs, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra presents the complete collection in sparkling and vivid performances.
Harmonia Mundi HMC-902042.45
Brahms: Handel Variations, Rhapsodies, Late Piano Pieces
Murray Perahia, piano
Murray Perahia’s release finds the pianist returning to Brahms for the first time in 20 years. His program includes works from the early, middle and late periods of the composer’s life. The centerpiece is the “Handel Variations,” a bridge between the Baroque and Romantic eras with echoes of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.”
Sony Classical 79469-2
Gods, Emperors & Angels: Vivaldi Concertos
La Serenissima/Adrian Chandler
Adrian Chandler and his lively period-instrument band deliver their eighth imaginative album for the Avie label – a collection of concertos scored for a diverse range of solo instruments. Anyone looking for something by Vivaldi beyond “The Four Seasons” will find a wonderful introduction here.
Music@Menlo Live 2009 – Being Mendelssohn
Music@Menlo Chamber Ensemble
Music@Menlo is an internationally acclaimed chamber music festival and institute in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2009, the festival celebrated the Mendelssohn bicentennial with his greatest chamber works alongside music by his predecessors and contemporaries. The stellar performances by a roster of the world’s finest chamber musicians are now available on a six-CD set.
Jeremy Denk Plays Charles Ives
Jeremy Denk, piano
Denk’s recital programs have long featured not only Ives’s famous and monumental “Concord” Sonata but also the far less familiar Sonata No. 1. Denk explains his devotion to the music: “Ives wants to recreate the raw experience of music-making, something unfiltered, and beyond all your piano lessons. While driving me crazy, he reminds me why I play the piano at all.”
Think Denk Media TDM-2567