Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2014 . My lists for the previous years: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, (2011 – “Almost”), 2010, (2010 – “Almost”), 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.
# 2 - New Release
Karol Szymanowski, Symphonies 1 & 3, Love Songs of Hafiz, Ben Johnson (tenor) / Edward Gardner (conductor) / BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, Chandos SACD
K.Szymanowski, Symphonies 1 & 3, Love Songs of Hafiz
E.Gardner / B.Johnson / BBC SO & Chorus
# 2 – Reissue
Franz Schubert, Symphonies 1-9*, Frans Brüggen (conductor) / Orchestra of the 18th Century, Decca
Franz Schubert, Symphonies 1-9*
F.Brüggen / Orchestra of the 18th Century
And yet, there are some finds among the recordings of the HIP heydays, that stand up to the best of what has come since. Although with much going for it, Frans Brüggen’s famous Beethoven cycle, recorded between 1984 and 1992, isn’t the one I’m thinking of. I find his tempos too broad, actually, and the music-making maybe, occasionally too genteel. The Schubert cycle, however, is tremendous top-to-bottom, First-to-Ninth*. Only Jos van Immerseel’s excellent 1997 cycle comes even close to such sustained sunny, sparkling, yet seriously great Schubert. It took me a considerable while to find affordable copies of the out-of-print discs once I was hooked by the disc with symphonies 2, 3 and 5 (often overlooked among the lot, here sublime)… but now the search is easy, as Decca has re-released the set in its bare-bones cheapo “Collector’s Edition”.
* Re-numbering musicologists be damned, the “Great C major Symphony” is still “No.9” to me, and the ‘missing’ 7th just a quirk I enjoy.