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Best Recordings of 2009 (#7)

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.

# 7 - New Release

Mozart, Idomeneo, R.Jacobs, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, Harmonia Mundi 902036

available at Amazon
W.A.Mozart, Idomeneo,
R.Jacobs / Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Harmonia Mundi
This is the most--the only--complete Idomeneo ever put on disc and it goes to the great credit of René Jacobs that he makes us actually want to listen to all of it. Any lesser performance might have explored the boundaries of Mozartian tedium, this explores his boundless young genius. What Jacobs cannot include he includes in the Appendix, when the score asks for extinct instruments (clarinets in B) he has them reconstructed, and where the ‘secco recitatives’ (he distinguishes between “recitativi semplici”, "recitativi accompagnati”, and “recitativi obligati”) lengthen the opera, Jacobs shortens them not with cuts but by making them more interesting. The practice of using a fortepiano for recitativi semplici that Jacobs has pioneered (or at least popularized) is one aspect. The attention lavished on them another: every singers is stipulated to carefully declaim their parts and the fortepianist encouraged to improvise and riff on the musical material around him. The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra follows willingly and with enthusiasm and the singers, led by the near ideal Richard Croft and Bernarda Fink (if you ‘excuse’ the fact that her part was written for a Castrato and might arguably have been more authentic in the hands of a counter tenor), are doing a very fine job. The result is not only an astonishing achievement of musical archeology but also another indisputable hit among the string of five great and nearly-great Mozart opera recordings Jacobs has now under his belt. When I was still ignoring Idomeneo among the great Mozart-operas, I used to say—less in jest than I should now like to admit—that if I wanted that kind of opera, I’d go straight to Handel. Jacobs has delivered me from the error of my ways.

# 7 - Reissue

Haydn, Piano Trios, Trio Wanderer, Harmonia Mundi 501968

available at Amazon
J.Haydn, Piano Trios Nos.39, 43-45 (Hob.XV 25, 27-29),
Trio Wanderer
Harmonia Mundi
The Trio Wanderer, ARD Prize winners from 1988, has copiously recorded for Harmonia Mundi, and always at a thoroughly terrific level of music-making, easily on par with the Florestan Trio. That they haven’t attained any star-power as a chamber group might have to do with the somehow more humble reputation that piano trios and the literature for it have, compared to limelight-hogging, sexy string quartets. (Since the Beaux Arts Trio there really hasn’t been a Piano Trio that has enjoyed wider name recognition.) It’s very laudable then that Harmonia Mundi is beginning to give some Trio Wanderer releases a new, budget-friendly breath of life with inclusion of their Haydn disc in the HM-Gold series. No one quite rocks the Trios 39, 43, 44, and 45 quite like the homogeneous French ensemble—and if the Van Swieten Trio (Brilliant) does, the latter does it in an original instrument way, with a prominent fortepiano sound. Even if you like the fortepiano (in moderation), the gorgeously recorded modern grand piano sound of the Trio Wanderer is too good to ignore and it bests the competition, including the Vienna Piano Trio (MDG) and Beaux Arts (Philips/Decca). Unless you are bent on getting all the Haydn Piano trios (not that they are not worth having and hearing), in which case Beaux Arts and the Haydn Trio Eisenstadt (Phoenix) might sufficiently satisfy your (modern instrument) needs, the Wanderer-disc is an essential addition to your Haydn collection.

-> Best Recordings of 2009 #1
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #2
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #3
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #4
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #5
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #6
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #8
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #9
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #10

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