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Best Recordings of 2011 (#6)

Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2011. My lists for the previous years: 2010, 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.

# 6 - New Release

F. Mompou, "Silent Music", Jenny Lin, Steinway & Sons 30004

available at Amazon
F.Mompou, Música Callada ,
Jenny Lin
Steinway & Sons

Frederic Mompou’s life spans modern history. He was three when Brahms died. When he died at the age of 94, Ronald Reagan had just told Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this Wall”. The British pianist Stephen Hough has aptly described Mompou as “Satie without cynicism”. Piano miniatures are the prominent output of both, but unlike his good acquaintance Satie, Mompou doesn’t seem to be hiding behind (disingenuous?) self-effacing humor. Mompou is serious about his little gems; the fact that they look humble and are short doesn’t seem to worry him. Rightly popular is his Música Callada (“Voice of Silence”) – somber yet charming, nostalgic but affirmative. Only the occasional gentle dissonance reminds of the 20th century... breaking like waves against the stoic music. Played with enough warmth, they are as enchanting and accessible as the softer hued Impresiones intimas or his lilting little dances—and apart from Herbert Henck, it is Jenny Lin who does exactly that. She creates tapestry of subtlety into which the ears can sink like an exhausted cat on extra thick shag carpeting. Since Henck’s release, I haven’t heard such felt, beautifully simple Mompou.

# 6 – Reissue

Russian & French Music, Sergiu Celibidache, Munich Philharmonic, EMI 85606

available at AmazonRussian & French Music,
S.Celibidache / MPhil
EMI - 11CDs

Sergiu Celibidache, the first post-War conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, attained something of a mythical reputation in the last 17 years of his career during which he shaped the Munich Philharmonic into his instrument and celebrated music with it in unique, usually uniquely slow fashion. He divided opinions greatly—and even the orchestra had moments during which they wanted to get rid of him. Fortunately for them, they realized then that an artistic vision and a strong music director were the best shot they had at fame and glory (or even just an international reputation), even if it meant dealing with an extremely difficult individual as their boss. (How different from these days!)

The results might have been uneven (at least on recordings—which Celibidache disapproved of—they have a wildly varying success rate), but at their best they were of literally unheard-of glory. The orchestra still lives off the fame that combination attained; in Munich, of course, and in fervently devoted Asian pockets. The results in French and Russian repertoire are among the happiest and those where lasting greatness can be easily weaned off the recorded legacy. His Pictures at an Exhibition, his Sheherazade, his Concerto for Orchestra (Bartók being conveniently russified for the purposes of this set), and his Debussy Ibéria are all astonishing... In the good sense, largely. Inexplicably, his superbly lush Romeo & Julia Overture is not included, but that doesn’t keep this from being an essential re-issue for those who adore gloriously celebrated orchestral music.

-> Best Recordings of 2011 #1-10

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