Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2009. My lists for the previous years: 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.
# 2 - New Release
Schoeck, Notturno, Rosamunde Quartet, Christian Gerhaher, ECM 001355902
O.Schoeck, Notturno, Rosamunde Quartet, C.Gerhaher
The Notturno flirts with the outer harmonic reaches from a late-romantic vantage point. If it is played with the utmost precision, and if it is thought of in long lines—horizontally, not vertically—it can sound more like Richard Strauss or Zemlinsky than mature Schoenberg. Long, thin strands of music wind through the score, emerging and submerging—in and out of audibility but with Schoeck’s melodiousness-stretched-to-vanishing always felt. Certainly if you hear wistfully lingering Viennese coffee-house romanticism in Berg’s op.1 Piano Sonata, then you will adore Notturno. The Rosamunde Quartet comes close to making this difficult, rewarding music sound ideal; Christian Gerhaher is right at home in the gloomy work and impeccable, anyway. The recording, ever so narrowly edging out its only competition (Klaus Mertens, Minguet Quartet, NCA) is one of the great winners of 2009.
# 2 - Reissue
Langgaard, The Symphonies & Orchestral Pieces, Thomas Dausgaard Danish National SO, DACAPO 6.200001
R.Langgaard, Symphonies et al., T.Dausgaard / Danish NSO
There are very few works of Langgaard that don’t completely endear themselves to me—and the regularly occurring fingerprints of other composers further that effect, rather than coming across as derivative. The unabashedly romantic style of the Wagner-quote and Strauss-flavor sprinkled Second Symphony (“Awakening of Spring”) is as intriguing as the impressionist 23-minute, 13-movement Fourth Symphony. And from the romantic ‘choral piano concerto’ of a Third to the Fifth Symphony’s first version (both are included) with its faint touches of Berg’s Violin Concerto in the “Lento Misterioso”, there isn’t a dull moment (unlike with most other romantic symphonists). Dacapo then outdoes itself on the packaging: instead of lumping the seven jewel cases of the extant releases into a cardboard wrapper, they house the 7 SACDs designed a luxurious little box that is playful and convenient and just about deserving a WPO WorldStar nomination.