This son of French engineers started his professional life as a new-music specialist, a protege of godfather Pierre Boulez. These days, he's giving us mainstream repertoire of stunning power and imagination. This Schumann recital is extraordinary; joyful, athletic, bracing. I could have easily included his scintillating Mozart concerto recordings in this list as well.
Pairing this sprawling symphony with parts of a lightweight solo piano work by the same composer is odd. It does not negate the hypnotic beauty of the orchestra-playing here. Some of Eschenbach's "controversial" habits are on display here, such as slow tempos and unusually shaped phrases. This is not a conventional performance, that is. But it is a visionary one, and holy cow, does the band ever sound good. Gorgeous recorded sound is a swell bonus.
Osvaldo Golijov is unquestionably the composer du jour. His new opera redefines eclecticism, as it overflows with Latin, American pop, Yiddish and Middle Eastern influences, even as it remains loosely tethered to a traditional European operatic tradition. The great Spanish poet Frederico Garcia Lorca, who was murdered by the fascists, is at the center of the plot.
The centennial of the birth of Dmitri Shostakovich has engendered a rash of fine new recordings of his masterpieces. Curtis grad Josefowicz here gives us readings of exceptional sinew and poise.
It is hard to think of music that has had such a meteoric rise in reputation as have the Shostakovich string quartets. They deserve it, as they are truly timeless works of art. This crackerjack young ensemble offers a good place to step into this world.
The idea here is that it is logically impossible to replicate the improvisational techniques of the 18th century (remember, no tape recorders back then). Lislevand and his superb period instrument colleagues instead follow their instincts, resulting in a delightfully folksy jam session, emanating with actual music from the early baroque.
Ever since Glenn Gould made his legendary recording of the Goldbergs, over a half century ago, this fantastic music has been adored by pianists, and no amount of historicism has reduced the enthusiasm for playing this music on an instrument that the composer did not know. But Egarr demonstrates, as well as any harpsichordist who has ever recorded this, that there is an intrinsic balance and integrity this way, especially when a beautiful instrument is used, the recorded sound is so good, and, most importantly, all the repeats are taken. A magnificent, revelatory achievement.
Karol Szymanowski is a composer whose time has come. He was the finest Polish composer of the first half of the 20th century, and lately, public acceptance has been catching up to his high repute among musicians. This lush, yet neatly balanced recording of dreamy, distinctive music for voice and orchestra should abet the cause.
Here are works of Sir Michael that are separated by 50 years, and yet both share his palpable sense of enchantment. Hickox delivers glowing readings of heartfelt enthusiasm.
Bang on a Can clarinetist Evan Ziporyn is also a hugely prolific composer, a trade he plies with great joy and happy curiosity. These four new orchestral works are dark, funny and lyrical, by turns, with Ziporyn's great love for Balinese gamelan music always simmering beneath the surface.