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31.12.17

#morninglistening to @tonkuenstler in #Bernstein’s...



#morninglistening to @tonkuenstler in #Bernstein’s desperately easy-going music:

http://a-fwd.to/3LwLbnz

under #YutakaSado

Glitter and be gay! It’s the #7thDayofChristmas & #newyearseve!

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection
#classicalcdcollection #americanclassicalmusic #orchestralmusic #candideoverture #tonkünstlerorchester #leonardbernstein #20thCenturyMusic

#ChristmasDay 7.



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#morninglistening to the musical drolleries of the...



#morninglistening to the musical drolleries of the #hoffnungmusicfestival on EMI/ @warnerclassicsus

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/5MJAMrf

#ChristmasDay 7. #HappyNewYear

#humor & #classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #GerardHoffnung #DennisBrain #NormanDelMar

#7thDayOfChristmas



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#morninglistening to #Monteverdi #madrigals w/@lesartsflo on...



#morninglistening to #Monteverdi #madrigals w/@lesartsflo on @HarmoniaMundi / @PIASclassicsUSA

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/45ByxmI

#ChristmasDay 7: #HappyNewYear

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #EarlyMusic #baroquemusic #Renaissance #vocalmusic #noFilter #acapella ##italianmusic #LesArtsFlorissants

#7thDayOfChristmas



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Best of the Year Lists: A Meta List on Forbes

A Very Happy New Year to all ionarts readers from me. Greetings, Cheers, and may the world continue to become a better place which, even when it doesn't look that way, it does.


A Meta List: The Best-Of-Best-Of The Year In Classical Music

At the end of every year, usually and conveniently before the Amazon shopping deadline to get deliveries in on the 24th (by which I mean the high holidays of contemplation, reflection and thoughtfulness, Advent and Christmastide with a dedicated dash of Hanukkah thrown in), newspapers, magazines, radio stations, blogs and the like – this column included – publish “Best of the Year” lists.

“Best of the Year” doesn’t really connote the hubris that one might think. No writer or even team of writers and editors that put together such a list would ever seriously entertain that the process of making such lists is either comprehensive enough of objective enough to have come up with the ten or dozen or 50 “Best” releases of any style of music. The phrase acts as a symbol, well understood by every adult reader, that this is a list of what rocked the list-making person’s or persons’ boat. It’s not an ideal title, perhaps, but it works well and it gets eyeballs – and in doing so it brings more attention to a diverse bunch of good releases than a more appropriate title might. The one year (since 2004) I didn’t make a “Best of” list, I called it “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…” – a title I actually quite liked. But it’s too much of a mouth full, I suppose. Others go for “X Notable Recordings” or the like; all perfectly fine.

Now, there are plenty of scam-actions going on in the universe of “Best of”-type awards. The Grammys, certainly in classical music, are a matter of voting-strengths among certain blocks of voters… fairly predictable, but not necessarily of quality. In Germany the ECHO prize, which still barely clings on to being a televised event, is the equivalent, but beholden to the labels. On top of that its classical music part is increasingly ghettoized and the voting process is an industry-led, prorated sham. I’ve written about it before:

Ask anyone who hasn’t been nominated: The Grammys for Classical Music are a joke. But a potentially important joke; the increase in sales based on inclusion on that list of winners is real, even if the rest is fake. (“Daft Awards We Embrace”, ionarts, 2010)

But the best of these lists, like that of Alex Ross, are insightful and intent to broaden the mind and the ears. Tom Huizenga does something similar with a similar-ish list for NPR. Some lists have a strong nationalist bent; American lists often want to champion American music on principle; desperately trying to make those recommendations look organic. Some individuals want to get just the right touch of hipness, off-beatness and eclecticism… yet with a nod to populism. The result may come across as calculating – but so what. Other lists are more reflective of broad, rather than pioneering, tastes. The choices from Boston suggest that the ECM’s public relations department did an excellent job. (It’s such a fabulous label, admittedly.) The venerable Gramophone has a notorious British/Anglo bent when it comes to labels and performers. There are lists that look like they were more easily swayed by the big ticket items, big names, or robust marketing campaigns… others have a knack for squirreling out small-label rarities. At best, one merely has to content with the personal bias and limited exposure of a curator of such a list.

That said, all these lists have merit – and some of their flaws can be cancelled out by coming up with a meta-list. This is such an attempt and these are the ingredients:

Charles Downey at the Classical Review: Top Ten Recordings of 2017
Alex Ross: Ten Notable Recordings (and Ten More)
BBC Music Magazine’s 13 Recordings of the Month
Gramophone Magazine’s “Gramophone Awards 2017”, “Critics' Choice 2017” and “The Best Reissues & Archive Releases of 2017
Gramophone’s “Critics’ Choice” list is unique among these in that one recording can get multiple nominations – which are reflected in my overlap list.
John von Rhein/Chicago Tribune’s “10 classical recordings that made 2017 a very good listening year
The Guardian’s “2017 in review: Andrew Clement’s top 10 classical CDs
KUSC’s “Svejda Plays Santa: Jim’s 2017 Favorite Things
New York Times’ “The 25 Best Classical Music Recordings of 2017” (put together by Anthony Tommasini, James R. Oestreich, David Allen, Seth Colter Walls and Joshua Baron)
WQXR’s “The Best Classical Recordings of 2017
The Guardian: “2017 in review: Andrew Clements' top 10 classical CDs
Tom Huizenga: “NPR Music's Top 10 Classical Albums Of 2017
Boston Globe: “Zoë Madonna’s picks for 2017’s best classical albums” and “Jeremy Eichler’s picks for 2017’s best classical albums
Forbes’ “Best Classical Recordings of 2017” and “Best Classical Recordings of 2017 (Re-Issues)

The rest can be found at Forbes.com: A Meta List: The Best-Of-Best-Of The Year In Classical Music

#morninglistening to #Mantovani w/@accentus on @naiverecords....



#morninglistening to #Mantovani w/@accentus on @naiverecords. Not THAT Mantovani.

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/3hh80me

#7thDayofChristmas

#classicalmusic #classicalcdcollection #classicalmusiccollection #BrunoMantovani #contemporarymusic #21stCenturyMusic #frenchmusic #choralmusic #acapella

#ChristmasDay 7.



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30.12.17

#morninglistening to #enriquebagaria on @eudorarecords...



#morninglistening to #enriquebagaria on @eudorarecords #pianosonatas of beloved #Haydn. ♡

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/2GVkHhc

Terrific stuff for #ChristmasDay 6

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #solokeyboard #pianosonatas #classicalcdcollection #WienerKlassik #pianosonata
#20thCenturyMusic
#noFilter #JosephHaydn

with musical love from Spain.

#6thDayOfChristmas



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#morninglistening to #ArabellaSteinbacher w/@rsb_orchester in...



#morninglistening to #ArabellaSteinbacher w/@rsb_orchester in #Hindemith & #Britten #violinconcertos

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/4LUEXaq

Great @SurprisedBeauty music…

under #VladimirJurowski

#surprisedbybeauty #classicalmusic
#classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #violinconcerto #orchestralmusic #repertoireexplorer #BenjaminBritten #PaulHindemith #20thCenturyMusic

#6thDayOfChristmas / #ChristmasDay 6.



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#morninglistening to @operzuerich’s #FrankMartin recording...



#morninglistening to @operzuerich’s #FrankMartin recording w/@OkkavdD & #FabioLuisi:

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/36uQnAU

♡ this @SurprisedBeauty music!

Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke w/#OkkaVonDerDamerau, #FabioLuisi (and why was his Twitter account closed?) and the #Zurich Philharmonia.

#surprisedbybeauty #classicalmusic
#classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #orchestralmusic #alto-music #repertoireexplorer #20thCenturyMusic



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Forbes Classical CD Of The Week: Wake Up To Bach Beyond "J.S."

A very happy Sixth Day of Christmas to You!


…In the alphabet-soup of Bach family member composers, there are always discoveries to be made away from the familiar and relatively familiar paths of Johann Sebastian and then, I suppose, Carl Philipp Emanuel (C.P.E.), and arguably Johann Christian (J.C.). Take J.B. (Johann Bernhard; for once not a son of but a second cousin to J.S.B.), for example, whom I recently wrote about with great joy and newfound interest, after happening on the disc of his four overtures on the Ricercar label (see: Classical CD Of The Week: Who Is Johann Bernhard Bach?). Or, in this case, J.C.F. (Johann Christoph Friedrich), J.S.B.’s penultimate male issue with wife Magdalena…

-> Classical CD Of The Week: Wake Up To Bach Beyond "J.S."

29.12.17

À mon chevet: We Were Eight Years in Power

À mon chevet is a series of posts featuring a quote from whatever book is on my nightstand at the moment.

book cover
In January of 2008, six months before I took the trip to Aspen, I logged into BlogSpot and set up an account. I had so many ideas back then and nowhere to put them. At that time, outlets were still limited, and pitching was often laborious. I would post four or five times to the blog each day. They were loose threads that would sometimes come to nothing and other times become the basis for grander artistic pursuits. In the header I scrawled a couplet from the rapper MF Doom:

He wears the mask just to cover the raw flesh.
A rather ugly brother with flows that's gorgeous.

At first, only two people read this blog, and those two people were my dad and me. We'd come up with the idea together. He paid me a stipend -- small in amount, huge in impact. It was steady money, which is to say a lifesaver for a family that turned "in over one's head" into a creed. More, it was an investment -- the time spent on the blog was time to practice my craft in public while also garnering enough money for groceries. The blog offered limitless space to write, and then publish at whim. And slowly, with some links from other bloggers thrown my way, more and more people cem to read it, until, by that summer I had attracted a backing chorus -- a steady group of commenters who read and offered their thoughts. The blog also drew the attention of The Atlantic, which offered to take it on and pay me a regular, less small salary.

-- Ta-Nehisi Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, pp. 41-42
After enjoying the first book by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me, I was glad to receive his new book of essays for Christmas. These are long reads published over the course of the last decade, most of which I had already read, but with some context from the author about his circumstances as he wrote them. One of the stories he tells in the book, which was news to me, is in this excerpt, that his father "paid" him to write the blog that eventually brought him to The Atlantic. That original blog, sadly, appears to have been deleted when it was transferred to The Atlantic. The memoir component of the book is by far its most compelling material.

#morninglistening to @AdeSerenissima /@LaSerenissimaUK on...



#morninglistening to @AdeSerenissima /@LaSerenissimaUK on @AvieRec:

http://a-fwd.to/15mwb1z

#ChristmasDay 5: #merrychristmas 🎄

Ranks high on my upcoming Meta Best-of-Best-of list.

#Vivaldi #Tartini #Torelli #Albinoni #Caldera #Corelli

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #EarlyMusic #baroquemusic #choralmusic #vocalmusic #noFilter #italianmusic

#5thDayOfChristmas



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28.12.17

#morninglistening to the #MozartPianoQuartet on #mDg in...



#morninglistening to the #MozartPianoQuartet on #mDg in #GeorgHendrikWitte

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/7fyTMyY

Obscure stuff for #ChristmasDay 4

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #chambermusic #classicalcdcollection #romanticism #repertoireexplorer #pianoquartet #hornquintet #SACD
#noFilter

#4thDayOfChristmas



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#morninglistening to #LucasDebargue on @sony_classical in...



#morninglistening to #LucasDebargue on @sony_classical in #Szymanowski & #Schubert #pianosonatas.

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/2a4D2N9

Terrific stuff for #ChristmasDay 4

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #solokeyboard #pianosonatas #classicalcdcollection #romanticism #repertoireexplorer #pianosonata
#20thCenturyMusic #surprisedbybeauty
#noFilter #sonyclassical

#4thDayOfChristmas



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#morninglistening to #AndreaZani #celloconcertos w/#MartinRummel...



#morninglistening to #AndreaZani #celloconcertos w/#MartinRummel & @koelnerAkademie on @capricciorec:

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/5ic3CWF

#ChristmasDay 4.

#classicalmusic #repertoireexplorer #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #EarlyMusic #baroquemusic #celloconcerto #concertos #historicalinstruments #historicallyinformedperformance #KoelnerAkademie #4thDayOfChristmas



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#morninglistening to #Bach’s #christmasoratorio...



#morninglistening to #Bach’s #christmasoratorio w/@BachChor under #KarlRichter on @dgclassics:

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/1l1OvdX

#ChristmasDay 4

My Christmas classic and emotional favorite. Not HIP, just full of love.

(♡)♡♡♡

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #EarlyMusic #MünchnerBachchor #baroquemusic
#choralmusic #cantatas

Bought this as a cut-out at Tower, if I remember correctly.

#4thDayOfChristmas #Weihnachtsoratorium #CarusVerlag #Bachedition



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Not The CD Of The Week: Claudio Abbado's Croaking Swansong

Merry Fourth Day of Christmas to You!


…They are sapped of energy and zest and fall on the floor like a limp squid; it never sparks any fireworks – like a damp squib. In the Mendelssohn, it’s perhaps less surprising. Firstly: For Felix to roll out his inspired, ingenious youth’s Concert Overture to feature length resulted perhaps in too much of a good thing. Secondly: I’ve always found Abbado’s recordings of Mendelssohn, however much praised by others, on the boring side (contrast those with Dohnanyi and the Vienna Philharmonic, for example)… but even then, not as boring as this. …

-> Not The CD Of The Week: Claudio Abbado's Croaking Swansong

27.12.17

#morninglistening to #Bach #cantatas w/#CollegiumVocaleGent...



#morninglistening to #Bach #cantatas w/#CollegiumVocaleGent & #Herreweghe:

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/59W4ZjC

#ChristmasDay 3.

volume 21: #BWV101 #BWV115 #BWV103

>Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott
>Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit
>Ihr werdet weinen und heulen

♡♡♡♡ #classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #EarlyMusic #baroquemusic #choralmusic #JohannSebastianBach #historicalinstruments #historicallyinformedperformance #CollegiumVocale #3rdDayOfChristmas #PhilippeHerreweghe #CarusVerlag Bachedition



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#morninglistening to @crozhlas under #TomášNepotil on...



#morninglistening to @crozhlas under #TomášNepotil on @supraphonCZ

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/4EhEApx

#ChristmasDay 3

100% @SurprisedBeauty-music!

#Bouquet of Flowers - a gorgeous ‘Czech Carmina Burana’ if you wish, coupled with the equally marvelous #PhilharmonicDances of #JanNovák’s.

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #choralmusic #czechmusic #vocalmusic #noFilter #TomasNepotil #orchestralmusic #PragueRadioSymphonyOrchestra #JanNovak #20thCenturyMusic #surprisedbybeauty

#3rdDayOfChristmas: #merrychristmas 🎄



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26.12.17

#morninglistening to #Mozart w/ @giardinoarmonico &...



#morninglistening to #Mozart w/ @giardinoarmonico & #IsabelleFaust on @harmoniamundi / @PIASclassicalUSA

Amazon: https://t.co/kICyaUWPZh

#ChristmasDay 2 - #merrychristmas 🎅

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #EarlyMusic #WienerKlassik #violinconcertos #WolfgangAmadeusMozart #violinconcerto #historicalinstruments #originalinstruments
#HIP

#2ndDayOfChristmas: #merrychristmas 🎄



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#morninglistening to #deWert: sacred #motets w/@stileantico on...



#morninglistening to #deWert: sacred #motets w/@stileantico on @HarmoniaMundi / @PIASclassicsUSA

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/5XI2Wcz

#ChristmasDay 2: #merrychristmas

#GiachesDeWert, the missing link between renaissance #polyphony & Monteverdi.

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #EarlyMusic #baroquemusic #choralmusic #vocalmusic #noFilter #acapella #flemishmusic #italianmusic

#2ndDayOfChristmas



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Forbes Classical CD Of The Week: Ligeti's Modernism With A Heart

Happy Boxing Day to You!


…Frieder Bernius, leader of the Stuttgart Chamber Choir, was taught by a member of the Schola Cantorum Stuttgart whose founder and director in turn was the great Clytus Gottwald. Gottwald not only created some of the most challenging, brilliant, and touching arrangements for acapella groups, he was also close to György Ligeti and commissioned the latter’s Lux æterna (1966) for the 16 voices of his – the former’s – ensemble. That text specifically offered itself, because Ligeti had not set it in his Requiem (1965) and in that sense Lux æterna is a natural companion piece to the Requiem. This release on the chorally-inclined Carus label (mainly a publisher of scores with a side in superb recordings to popularize those scores – a setup not unlike Wergo/Schott) follows and links all these tracks and combines Frider Bernius’ 2006 performance of the Requiem with that of Lux æterna (put down in 1996) and then adds four of those sublime Gottwald arrangements of Ravel, Debussy, and Mahler (recorded between 1996 and 2007)[1]…

-> Classical CD Of The Week: Ligeti's Modernism With A Heart

#morninglistening to #Charpentier: #Pastorale de #Noël...



#morninglistening to #Charpentier: #Pastorale de #Noël w/#EnsembleCorrespindances & Sébastien Daucé

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/7xyInWX

#ChristmasDay 2: #merrychristmas

Wonderful, occ. lulling works by good old #MarcAntoineCharpentier

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #EarlyMusic #baroquemusic #choralmusic #vocalmusic #historicalinstruments #historicallyinformedperformance #noFilter #HIP #frenchmusic

#2ndDayOfChristmas



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25.12.17

#morninglistening to #Bach #cantatas w/#LaPetiteBande &...



#morninglistening to #Bach #cantatas w/#LaPetiteBande & #SigiswaldKuijken

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/61fn0bh

#ChristmasDay 1: #merrychristmas

♡♡♡♡

Early in the year and already a candidate for the #BestOf2018 list!

One of the great Bach cycles - one cantata for each Sunday of the liturgical year.

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #EarlyMusic #baroquemusic #choralmusic #JohannSebastianBach #historicalinstruments #historicallyinformedperformance #noFilter #HIP #OVPP

#1stDayOfChristmas



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#morninglistening to #Telemann Paris #Quartets on...



#morninglistening to #Telemann Paris #Quartets on @Alpha_classics w/#Nevermind:

http://amzn.to/2D8iVAL

#merrychristmas

(@outheremusic)

#georgphilipptelemann #classicalcdcollection
#classicalmusiccollection
#classicalmusic #EarlyMusic #baroquemusic #chambermusic



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24.12.17

#morninglistening to @LiseDeLaSalle in #Bach &...



#morninglistening
to @LiseDeLaSalle in #Bach & others:

http://amzn.to/2D6AVvd

#Adventskalender Day 24

#franzliszt + #ferrucioBusoni #francisPoulenc + #AlbertRoussel + #ThomasEnhco

#classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #classicalmusic #JohannSebastianBach #solokeyboard #EarlyMusic #contemporarymusic #liseDeLaSalle



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Forbes Classical CD Of The Week: Bamberg's "Má vlast" -- Smetana At Home In Germany

A Wonderful Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve!


…The Bamberg Symphony was once the hard core of the German Philharmonic Orchestra of Prague along with that latter’s orchestra’s last music director, Joseph Keilberth. They were exiled after World War II and found themselves in picturesque provincial Bamberg. Since then, they have been the world’s best orchestra by size of hometown, with a mission to spread their gift across greater Bavaria and beyond. The Czech/Bohemian root had been cut off during the cold war, but with their new chief conductor Jakub Hrůša, the link has been activated again. It’s only fitting that he would start the tenure with a recording of that most Czech pieces of music, Smetana’s Ma vlast, something he had already recorded some six years earlier with the Prague Philharmonia (Supraphon), a chamber-sized ensemble where he was chief conductor before Bamberg…

-> Classical CD Of The Week: Bamberg's "Má vlast" -- Smetana At Home In Germany

#morninglistening to #Langgaard w/#GunvorSihm & BJ Tamge on...



#morninglistening to #Langgaard w/#GunvorSihm & BJ Tamge on @DacapoRecords

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/5tUqF9c

#Adventskalender Day 24!

@SurprisedBeauty Music! ♡☆♡

#chambermusic #classicalmusic #surprisedbybeauty #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #orchestralmusic #danishmusic



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23.12.17

#morninglistening to #Telemann #Quartets...



#morninglistening to #Telemann #Quartets w/#ensembleventusiucundus on #Gramola:

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/5CzRuQf

#Adventskalender Day 23

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #EarlyMusic #baroquemusic #choralmusic #JohannSebastianBach #historicalinstruments #historicallyinformedperformance
#recordermusic #flutemusic



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#morninglistening to #Bach # w/@bach_collegiumE &...



#morninglistening to #Bach # w/@bach_collegiumE & @MSuzukiBCJ

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/6nyG7iI

#Adventskalender Day 23

The #ArtoftheFugue in as lovely and lively a rendition for orchestral forces as Jordi Savall’s last was. Picture of Masaaki Suzuki and his players may not conform 100% to reality.

♡♡♡

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #EarlyMusic #baroquemusic #choralmusic #JohannSebastianBach #historicalinstruments #historicallyinformedperformance #noFilter #DieKunstDerFuge



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The Philadelphia Orchestra Association doubles down re: Charles Dutoit Allegations


#morninglistening to #Bach #cantatas w/@bachstiftung: Amazon:...



#morninglistening to #Bach #cantatas w/@bachstiftung:

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/6nyG7iI

#Adventskalender Day 23

volume 21: #BWV80 #BWV24 #BWV79

>Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott
>Ein Ungefärbt Gemüte
>Herr der Gott ist Sohn und Schild

♡♡♡

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #EarlyMusic #baroquemusic #choralmusic #JohannSebastianBach #historicalinstruments #historicallyinformedperformance #noFilter



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22.12.17

#morninglistening to Elizabeth #JacquetDeLaGuerre’s...



#morninglistening to Elizabeth #JacquetDeLaGuerre’s #violinsonatas w/#LisaTurBonet on #Pan Classics

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/19U3hRk

#classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #classicalmusic #violinsonata #womencomposers #FrenchMusic #baroquemusic #EarlyMusic #chambermusic



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For Your Consideration: 'The Last Jedi'


Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson

There is so much Disney profiteering on the Star Wars franchise, viewers going into the latest feature may be confused about what they are seeing. Your cheat sheet: this movie, The Last Jedi, is not a continuation of last year's Rogue One, the first in a series of spin-off films; this is Episode VIII of the main story line, taking up where The Force Awakens left off two years ago. Judging by the tepid attendance at a popular cineplex in the Virginia suburbs (perhaps the film did not need to open in quite that many theaters), most people do not need to be told to wait for this long, rather dull movie on Netflix. After all, even Mark Hamill didn't like it.

Rian Johnson has directed his own script, and where The Force Awakens mostly felt like it recycled the story line of Episode IV (the original Star Wars), The Last Jedi is a mix of reused motifs from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. A young hopeful touched by The Force (this time, Daisy Ridley as the feisty young Rey) seeks out an elusive Jedi master on a distant planet (this time, Mark Hamill reprising his role as Luke Skywalker). After undergoing training and confronting the Dark Side in a spirit quest in a cave, she ignores the wise old master's advice and goes to confront her nemesis, Kylo Ren (a regrettably dull Adam Driver, who looks like he has been on steroids), hiding his anger and disfigurement behind a mask.


Other Reviews:

New York Times | The New Yorker | Washington Post | The Atlantic
David Edelstein | NPR | Christian Science Monitor

There she faces Ren's all-powerful overlord, Supreme Leader Snoke (played by the omnipresent digital actor Andy Serkis), who has far greater power than she could have imagined. Indeed, everything that has transpired has done so according to his design. There is even an Ewok gambit in some cuddly residents of a distant planet that get in on the action, digital sheaths given to the puffins at the location, guaranteed to be under your Christmas tree soon. If this all sounds familiar, you know you are a Star Wars nerd. Other parallels abound, but in the interest of avoiding even worse spoilers, you will have to discover them yourself.

None of the hollow characters from The Force Awakens get much more interesting, as most of the powerful moments, such as they are, come from the old characters. Also like The Force Awakens the CGI effects and battle sequences are stunning, which is probably part of the problem. It is now all too easy to wow an audience with gorgeous planetscapes and massive explosions, and far more difficult, or so it seems, to craft a story and dialogue that will entertain.

One does question why the directing of this juggernaut fell to Rian Johnson, a director with a few television credits and thrillers (Looper, Brick) to his name. If you do like this installment of the franchise, you will be glad to know he is reportedly going to be writing a whole new Star Wars trilogy and directing at least one of them. This may be what we are to expect for a long time to come.

This movie is playing everywhere, around the clock.

21.12.17

Statement from The Philadelphia Orchestra Association Regarding Charles Dutoit Allegations



(See also: The Grand Moral Reckoning, Classical Edition. James Levine In The Soup)

Best Recordings of 2017


Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2017 (published in whole on Forbes.com here and here (Part II)).

My lists for the previous years: 2016, 20152014, 2013, 2012, 2011, (2011 – “Almost”), 2010, (2010 – “Almost”), 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost")
2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.



# 1 - New Release


Franz Schubert, Die Schöne Müllerin, Christian Gerhaher, Gerold Huber, Sony Classical

available at Amazon
Franz Schubert, Die Schöne Müllerin,
Christian Gerhaher, Gerold Huber
Sony Classical

Hyperbole has little room in classical music – it’s too blunt, usually inaccurate, ever unsubtle, mostly unsuitable, and a bit in bad taste. But it gets eyeballs.

And in this case, some hyperbole might just apply. Christian Gerhaher and Gerold Huber, that perfect symbiosis for all matters Lied, mélodie, and artsong (but especially Lied), have… has re-recorded Franz Schubert’s song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin after putting their first go at it on record 14 years ago (Arte Nova).

I had been counting the days, for years. GerhaherHuber (one word) is to Lied what Willie Mays and Babe Ruth, rolled into one, were to Baseball. (Read the full review here: Review: Oh, Only The Best Schöne Müllerin Ever!)...


# 1 – Reissue


Ludwig van Beethoven, String Quartets +, Takács Quartet, Decca

available at Amazon
Ludwig van Beethoven, The String Quartets +,
Takács Quartet,
Decca

...taking everything into consideration, across all 16 ¼ quartets, my favorite so far remains the Takács Quartet. And not just mine: Their interpretations have long been the rightly forerunner among modern interpretations of the Beethoven String Quartets. Interestingly these recordings – jewels in the Decca catalogue – were long treated more like step-children. The line-up in those years was that of Edward Dusinberre, Károly Schranz, Roger Tapping, András Fejér, which was an 11-year golden period for the quartet (Roger Tapping left in 2005).

The recordings had to be financed because Decca wouldn’t front the bill, despite their great success. (Admittedly, Decca couldn’t have known who successful they’d become… at least not before the first box had hit the market.)...



The complete list of the "Best Classical Recordings of 2017 on Forbes.com can be found here, for new releases. For re-issues, the link is here








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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things - 2007, Part XI "Contemporary" (Best Recordings of 2007)


For 2007 I wrote something similar to the "Best Recordings" list for WETA's blog: "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things", which ended up being divided into eleven parts:

I - Crossover
II - Concerto
III - DVD
IV - Keyboard
V - Choral/Vocal
VI - Orchestral
VII - Chamber
VIII - Obscure Composer/Work Rescued
IX - Bach
X - Opera
XI - Contemporary

The WETA column was shut down and the links were all dead until now, except for two. Now I have finally resurrected all of the posts, as embedded .pdf files. The links above are working again; here is the Part II - Concerto:








These Are a Few of My Favorite Things - 2007, Part X "Opera" (Best Recordings of 2007)


For 2007 I wrote something similar to the "Best Recordings" list for WETA's blog: "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things", which ended up being divided into eleven parts:

I - Crossover
II - Concerto
III - DVD
IV - Keyboard
V - Choral/Vocal
VI - Orchestral
VII - Chamber
VIII - Obscure Composer/Work Rescued
IX - Bach
X - Opera
XI - Contemporary

The WETA column was shut down and the links were all dead until now, except for two. Now I have finally resurrected all of the posts, as embedded .pdf files. The links above are working again; here is the Part II - Concerto:








These Are a Few of My Favorite Things - 2007, Part IX "Bach" (Best Recordings of 2007)


For 2007 I wrote something similar to the "Best Recordings" list for WETA's blog: "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things", which ended up being divided into eleven parts:

I - Crossover
II - Concerto
III - DVD
IV - Keyboard
V - Choral/Vocal
VI - Orchestral
VII - Chamber
VIII - Obscure Composer/Work Rescued
IX - Bach
X - Opera
XI - Contemporary

The WETA column was shut down and the links were all dead until now, except for two. Now I have finally resurrected all of the posts, as embedded .pdf files. The links above are working again; here is the Part II - Concerto: