Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2014 (published in whole on Forbes.com). My lists for the previous years: 2013, 2012, 2011, (2011 – “Almost”), 2010, (2010 – “Almost”), 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.
# 6 - New Release
Gottfried August Homilius, Cantatas: Warum toben die Heiden / Motets II: Habe deine Lust an dem Herrn, Handel’s Company & Choir, Soloists / sirventes Berlin, Rainer Johannes Homburg / Stefan Schuck (directors), Carus 83266 & 83267
G.A.Homilius, Warum toben die Heiden
R.J.Homburg / Handel’s Company & Choir, Soloists
G.A.Homilius, Habe deine Lust an dem Herrn
S.Schuck / sirventes Berlin
It’s impossible to pin one of these two Gottfried August Homilius releases down as better than the other, so I treat them as one: whichever one is playing so sparkles with enthusiasm and glorious late high baroque gorgeousness, that it catapults the Dresden composer to the pinnacle of Cantata / Motets genre (accepting Bach as running hors concours). It makes us question why we only really think of Bach in the genre in the first place, when there are gems like Homilius (1714-1785) to be had. What considerably helps is that Homilius can’t be tagged with the “Gallant” label that makes life difficult for many of Bach’s own sons. (Understandably so, more often than not.) Part of the Carus label’s “Music from Dresden” series, these releases contain entire worlds of musical joy and even months after initial listening, I still have the catchy tunes of Homilius happily stuck in my head. (Actually: The cantatas are more fun, if I had to pick one. It’s just that I don’t.)!
# 6 – Reissue
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Clarinet Concerto, Overture and Arias from La Clemenza di Tito, Adagio K.411, Trauermusik K.477, Eric Hoeprich (clarinet), Joyce DiDonato (mezzo), Frans Brüggen, Orchestra of the 18th Century, Glossa 81107
W.A.Mozart, Clarinet Concerto, Arias et al.
E.Hoeprich, J.DiDonato / F.Brüggen / O.d.18th Ct.
At first, this Mozart re-release looks a bit of a hodge-podge; a mixed program that hints, quite unintentionally, at how music was presented back then—a concerto, some Arias, an overture, a chamber work for winds and an orchestral rarity. The connection throughout is Anton Stadler, the fabulous clarinetist (and basset horn & basset clarinet player) who inspired Mozart late in his short time on earth to compose some of the most beautiful melodies of his life, a life already so rich with beautiful melodies. Mozart’s last concerto is the most obvious manifestation of that fruitful relation. But it also made Mozart write sublime clarinet parts in his masonic music (the Adagio and Funeral Music) as well as in his last opera, La Clemenza di Tito. The overture makes promises that the two arias which are included here—effectively clarinet duets with mezzo-soprano—make good on. (Clarinetist Eric Hoeprich, who also wrote the excellent liner notes, plays his instrument beautifully, with a soft-hued, hiss-free tone.
It is his second recording of the work under Brüggen, after a 1990s release on Philips .) Within the two arias, meanwhile, lies the hidden treasure of this release, as it features the young Joyce DiDonato (2001) who has since emerged as one of the most wonderful and thrilling mezzo-sopranos on the scene. Understatement guided the designers of the as-ever-gorgeous release on Glossa. They put it in the small print in the booklet and on the back of the release, rather than marketing it around her as the temptation might have been. The CD also serves as a gentle memorial to the art of Frans Brüggen, one of the most successful and least ideological pioneers of the early music scene many of whose recordings, new and old, are cherished favorites. The founder of the Orchestra of the 18th Century, which he conducts here, passed away in August of this year. The whole CD is an easy delight and tribute to two great musicians, one dead and one at the beginning of a sure-to-be-long-lasting pinnacle. Pity the Royals didn’t win it, though.and tribute to two great musicians, one dead and one at the beginning of a sure-to-be-long-lasting pinnacle. Pity the Royals didn’t win it, though.