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Best Recordings of 2010 (#10)

Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2010. My lists for the previous years: 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.

# 10 - New Release

Haydn, Brahms, Szymanowski, Shchedrin, “Lyric Scenes”, Apollon Musagète, Oehms OC 749

available at AmazonJ.Haydn, J.Brahms, K.Szymanowski, R.Shchedrin, “Lyric Scenes”,
Apollon Musagète

An unambiguous recommendation for this string quartet debut disc: Apollon Musagète has, at last, released the disc with Oehms that they were promised to have produced when they won that particular special prize (in addition to just about all other prizes) at the 2008 ARD Music Competition. The result, “Works for String Quartet” contains Haydn’s opp.71/2, Brahms’ op.51/2, Szymanowski’s First Quartet, and Rodion Shchedrin’s Lyric Scenes for String Quartet—the last having been the 2008 ARD mandatory contemporary composition.

Such ‘sampler’ discs inherently don’t interest me as much as might something that focuses instead on one, maximum two composers (Szymanowski comes to mind). But even if this discs is a filing nightmare, it proves to be a near ideal introductory CD to the quartet as we are shown, one by one, through the quartet’s wit and mettle in these four very different pieces. Even as a recent live performance I’ve heard was rather disappointing, this disc shows what the four young musicians are capable of when they set their minds to it. Only an excess of ego and poor attitude can stand in between them and some considerable success. (Review on WETA)

# 10 – Reissue

J. S. Bach, Goldberg Variations, Ragna Schirmer, Berlin Classics 184802

available at AmazonJ.S. Bach, Goldberg Variations,
Ragna Schirmer
Berlin Classics

Even among the re-issues, though I don’t follow them as closely anymore as I once did, I end upwith more than ten worthy choices to include here. I just have to start looking and pondering for a few minutes. Other candidates for this spot were also these re-issues: Zelenka’s orchestral works and all the trio sonatas with the Camerata Bern (formerly on Archiv) are now out on Brilliant… and brilliant they are! Brilliant has also boxed (and therefore ‘re-issued’) all the Scottish (and Welsh and Irish) Songs that Haydn set. They didn’t make the cut it’s because, even as I so love volume 1 (review), I think that it’s a kind of goodness of which one can overdoes easily enough. Stick with the small quantities which, at Brilliant’s prices, come at no economic disadvantage even if you end up gobbling up all the other sets that make up the 18 discs of the big one. Speaking of big boxes: Hänssler has re-released their 172 disc box set of all of Bach not just on an iPod but also in a neatly produced, competitively priced box (contents explained and reviewed on WETA). An unwieldy choice, though, and thus passed over with a heavy heart as are two fine re-issues in Hyperion’s “30th Anniversary” edition. Angela Hewitt’s first volume of the Bach Keyboard Concertos (why not re-issue both discs? ionarts review of disc two here) and Stephen Hough’s Rachmaninoff Concerto recordings with the Dallas SO and Andrew Litton (almost a review here) would have been my choices among those thirty releases. And it's almost a crime not to include the 9 (!) Harmonia Mundi re-releases of Philippe Herreweghe's Bach.

Instead I'm going for these Goldberg Variations performed by Ragna Schirmer. Unabashedly pianistic, broad, repeat-taking, and never sappy… re-released this month in an attractive digi-pack. Not a must-have, when there are so many worthy Goldberg Variations on the piano, but a "great-to-have". (Review on ionarts)

-> Best Recordings of 2010 #1
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #2
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #3
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #4
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #5
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #6
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #7
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #8
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #9

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