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Best Recordings of 2009 (#8)

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.

# 8 - New Release

Titz, String Quartets, vol.2, Hoffmeister Q4t (period instruments) Profil 9046

available at Amazon
A.F.Titz, String Quartets in E-flat; in G; in F, and C,
Hoffmeister Quartet
The Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung wrote sometime around 1805 about Anton Ferdinand Titz as the unsurpassed master of the Adagio. If you listen to the two adagios of the four string quartes on this disc, that statement makes perfect sense.The Hoffmeister Quartet’s performance of these hitherto obscure pieces is not only a world premiere recording, it’s a bit of a revelation. I will write about it in greater detail in the coming months on WETA’s website, until then trust that there is no shame in succumbing to Titz: you are dealing with some of the most agreeable music of its kind and of its time.

# 8 - Reissue

EMI 20th Century Classics, Various Composers & Artists, EMI

available at Amazon
EMI 20th Century Classics ,
Various Composers & Artists
Of all the great classical record companies, EMI may well have the most extensive, varied, possibly even most interesting catalogue. It should therefore come as no surprise that they play the re-issue game with particular enthusiasm. Why not profit of all that recorded (and paid-for) material? So EMI wags its “long tail” of music through stores and on-line retailers with vigor, but for many years without discrimination. Many re-issue series—“Encore” (a.k.a. “Nipper”), “Double Forte”, “Gemini”, “Legend”, “EMI Triples” strike as dutiful exercises, not a labor of love: carelessly designed, with little by way of notes, graphically unpleasant, and uneven in musical worth. Except for the “Great(est) Recordings of the Century” (“GRoC”) series, and that suffering from titular hyperbole, nothing has been a unanimous success.

Finally things seem to have changed. The American Classics series is already a step into the right direction, even if the design is still dour. With the 20th Century Classics series, now, EMI has got it right. About two dozen releases have come out in two batches so far, from Ravel to Henze, from Resphigi to Stockhausen. All contain two CDs with well selected complete works, presented with a fair booklet and with a remarkably well thought-through, appealing design. EMI and Virgin don’t always recycle their most prominent recordings when they can chose from more than one, but just as often they do… or else dig up a much welcome rarity. Like Rafael Kubelik’s Nielsen 5th Symphony. At $12 a pop, they invite the casual as well as the seasoned listener to explore the near and far corners of the richest century in music. At the same time, each issue can stand on its own rather than being a mere collection of highlights. From the earlier batch Schoenberg, Hindemith, and especially Dutilleux are particularly noteworthy; Tavener, Janáček, and Henze stand out among the second lot. Indulge.

-> 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 #7
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #9
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #10

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