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.
# 4 - New Release
Erkki-Sven Tüür, Piano Concerto, Symphony No.7, Frankfurt RSO, NDR Chorus, Laura Mikkola (piano), Paavo Järvi (conductor), ECM 002027602
E-S.Tüür, Piano Concerto, Sy.#7,
P.Järvi / Frankfurt RSO, NDR Chorus / L.Mikkola
It’s lovely for two recordings (see Choice No.2) with such very well written, accessible-yet-uncompromising contemporary works to come out in on year and so easily make this list. Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Piano Concerto and Seventh Symphony (mawkishly dedicated to the Dalai Lama, paid for by the Frankfurt RSO and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; both, then, led by Paavo Järvi) were on it immediately from first hearing, very early on in the year. In the concerto (with soloist Laura Mikkola), the piano runs and percussion accompaniment not only remind of a jazz session, the section also develops a compelling groove that makes me involuntarily bop along and tap my foot. Yet, for all Tüür’s usage of the jazz-idiom, he never even hints at cross-over. This is an element that the long last movement of the Seventh Symphony picks up on, intermittently, tumbling and rumbling before coming to a reflective, calmer end. Unreadable, jargon-y liner notes, sadly, but otherwise a humdinger of a new release for everyone interest in (classical) music with a pulse that actually invites, not forbids, listening.
# 4 – Reissue
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Queen of Spades, Bolshoi, Soloists, Boris Khaykin (conductor), Melodiya 1002088
P.I.Tchaikovsky, Queen of Spades,
B.Khaykin / Bolshoi / Soloists
For only a few years now, the Melodiya label is back in business, which means old treasure troves are finally available again, without a hassle or (time-) travels to East Germany. The presentation is excellent and the remasterings are of high quality, too, which is good—because if you got a cheap domestic pressing then, it sounded like the LP was made of recycled Lada truck tires. Especially astonishing what has been gotten out of this Queen of Spades recording from 1967 under 1972 People’s Artist of the USSR Boris Khaykin with his all-round excellent Bolshoi forces. Riveting, enthused, lyrical, well-sung and in very fine sound: Tchaikovsky’s second-most popular opera is given a reading that catapults this re-issue to the narrow top tier of Pikovaya dama recordings.