CD Reviews | CTD (Briefly Noted) | JFL (Dip Your Ears) | DVD Reviews


Best Recordings of 2009 (#9)

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.

# 9 - New Release

Mahler, Lied von der Erde, Kent Nagano, Klaus Florian Vogt, Christian Gerhaher, Sony 750821

available at Amazon
G.Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde,
K.Nagano / K.F.Vogt, C.Gerhaher / Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal
I was debating heavily with myself whether to put this disc into the Best of 2009, and not one of the discs that will make the “Almost List”. But ultimately what is excellent on this disc is more important than any shortcomings. I’ve reviewed it on WETA’s website at some length; suffice it to say it’s the best Lied in some time thanks to Kent Nagano and especially Christian Gerhaher turning in refined-yet-natural excellence.

# 9 - Reissue

Bach, 3 Cantatas juxtaposed, Harnoncourt, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 756794

available at Amazon
J.S.Bach, Cantatas BWV 140, 61, 29 (x2),
N.Harnoncourt / Concentus Musicus Wien et al.
Technically this isn’t a re-issue but another heartening sign that Sony (through its Deutsche Harmonia Mundi imprint) has started to put more thought into their classical releases. Nikolaus Harnoncourt in new recordings of three Bach Cantatas (BWV 140 “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme”, BWV 61 “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland”, and BWV 29 “Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir”. Harnoncourt recording Bach is an event; when he works with soloists like Christine Schäfer, Bernarda Fink, Werner Güra, Christian Gerhaher, and Gerald Finley—all among my very favorite singers—even more so. The result is, not surprisingly, a very fine, notable new Bach Cantata CD that dedicated Bachians would not want to miss. What turns this from “very fine” to “best of the year” is this twist, though: Sony licensed and includes the same three cantatas from Harnoncourt’s Alte Musik/Teldec cantata cycle and allows direct comparison between his Bach from 30 years ago and what he does now.

The results of comparison can be curious: I liked the earlier version of BWV 140 so much, I could see myself preferring it over the newer version (with Julia Kleiter, Kurt Streit, and Anton Scharinger). The Concentus Musicus has become a more refined orchestra and the soloists and especially the choir(s) (famous boys’ choirs then, the highly professional Arnold Schoenberg Choir now) are better now than they were. But there is something quite natural, quite enchanting to the old ways. Even the boy soprano is no bother in this cantata: one accepts the natural shortcomings of a boy’s voice and tries to focus instead on its elements that another, trained adult voice cannot possess. Kudos, little Alan. But in BWV 61, the stunner among the newly recorded three cantatas, the boy soprano turns matters into perpetual cringe. Seppi tries way too hard—and comparison Schäfer is simply cruel. Sold at the price of one CD, this side-by-side new and re-release is a winner.

-> 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 #8
-> Best Recordings of 2009 #10

No comments: