You knew I’d weigh in.
The full list of my picks for best classical CDs and downloads of 2011 is below the break.
Violinist Miranda Cuckson took some time recently to talk to us about her interest in new music, her artistic collaboration with composer Michael Hersch, and the experience of preparing and performing contemporary works for concert and the recording studio. You can find out more about Miranda here, and information on The Wreckage of Flowers, recently released on CD by Musical Concepts, here.
I am still in the process of sorting through a pile of product samples, swag, and tchotchkes which I brought back from MIDEM over a month ago (which goes to show you how busy things are at Casa Gaudette), and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a number that are well worth some comment. So this is the first in four installments of new product worth tracking down.
Just over a month ago, amidst a wave of upheaval that had disrupted (and continues to wreak small waves of havoc with) my life and work, I received a package containing a couple of CDs and a cover letter.
I know, I know — the market for music recordings is in flux if not chaos, and there are growing indications that downloads are finally starting to hit the head of a “tipping point” among the non-teen-and-college-age demographic. And yes, a growing share of my own acquisitions are file downloads. But for the most part I remain an unreconstructed consumer knuckledragger who orders finished product online, bids on scarce audio gratification in disc formaat on eBay, and frequents the handful of well-stocked “record stores” left in Manhattan.
A surprisingly good confluence of solo piano music from the former Soviet Union has found its way to the CD, SACD, and DVD formats in 2009. Four of these releases are of particular merit, and one of them made my Best of 2009 list.
It’s been a while since I’ve heard the Barbirolli/Hallé Dvo?ák Symphony No.7 — recorded in 1957, originally issued on Pye and most recently available in an ultra-budget 3-fer from Disky. In some respects it was much as I remembered: the sound was both overmiked and very congested, and the playing was sometimes a bit too out of tune. The performance, however, was more satisfying than I had recalled: enormously energetic, strongly dramatic, and filled with more than the requisite number of “goosebump” moments. I’m very glad I gave this one another listen.