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Best Recordings of 2009 (#3)

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.

# 3 - New Release

Kurtag et al.., Kurtag's Ghosts, Marino Formenti, Kairos 12902

available at Amazon
Kurtag et al., Kurtag's Ghosts, Marino Formenti

Marino Formenti dazzles, delights, and confounds with his disc “Kurtag’s Ghosts.” You probably didn’t know that you want Stockhausen by way of Machaut, with miniatures of Boulez, Beethoven, Schubert, and Bartók in the same vicinity. This memorial to György Kurtág—works of his are dominantly woven through the occasionally sparse fabric of the abovementioned and many more composers—might convince you that you do. Formenti’s great skill is making you listen anew and wonder at times where Scarlatti ends and Kurtág begins. Superbly played and even more imaginatively assembled. This is perhaps the only inclusion on my "Best Recordings" list that has somewhat limited appeal, but what a feast to open-minded ears!

# 3 - Reissue

Haydn, Keyboard Sonatas & Andante con variazioni, Alfred Brendel, Decca The Originals

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J.Haydn, Keyboard Sonatas Hob.XVI 4, 9, 20, 32, 34, 37, 40, 42, , 48-52, Alfred Brendel
Decca Originals
For years Alfred Brendel’s four-disc set of Haydn keyboard sonatas was difficult to get in North America and even when it is attainable, only at an awfully high price. A single-disc re-issue on the “Rosette Collection” and elsewhere was an insufficient patch. Now, finally we have the Philips set re-issued as part of the “Decca, The Originals” series. Even if it is only available as an import as of yet (Universal’s different release schedules and policies can be baffling, sometimes), the price has already come down and the excuses not to own this set—especially in the Haydn year—have dwindled. It is, simply put, the best recording of Haydn sonatas and it is the best recording of Brendel. Brendel, who I never found nearly as intriguing and enjoyable on disc as in concert, is everything you want him to be: sparkling with dry wit, precise and lively, bringing Haydn to life before your very ears. There is nothing by way of personality or overt ‘interpretation’ that Brendel imposes on the music, there is nothing wayward or eccentric. With other artists this might mean bland, even boring (as in fact it occasionally does with Brendel in other repertoire), but not here. I like quite a few other Haydn keyboard sonata discs—some of them radically, perversely different. But this Brendel set is the pinnacle and unarguably a must-have.

-> Best Recordings of 2009 #1
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #2
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #4
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #5
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #6
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #7
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #8
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #9
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #10

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