It has been a bumper year for newly recorded classical music (my taste at least). Live in particular, it’s been really astounding with exhilarating concerts with, in January, Rebecca Saunders’s “Still” (violin concerto, probably one of my favourite pieces of the last 20 years), performed by one of the best violinists currently, Carolin Widmann, and Morton Feldman’s always amazing “Neither”, stunningly performed by the American soprano Laura Aikin (and orchestra of course; those delicate timpani!). March brought Gérard Grisey’s large scale orchestral work “Les espaces acoustiques”. Equally stunningly performed by the ever excellent Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, with the great Ilan Volkov conducting.
The 7th of June brought the premiere of new orchestral work by Helmut Lachenmann, “My Melodies”, for 8 horns and orchestra. I simply have no words. Further, what Pierre-Laurent Aimard did on the piano for his performance of Lachenmann’s earlier piano piece “Serynade” borders on the insane (but it’s an insane piece of course). I’m speechless. And the fun of “La Marche Fatale” deserves an award. Italian bravura par excellence.
On October 3rd, we witnessed another stunning set of performances, with the Ensemble Modern under the baton of Enno Poppe, of Webern orchestral pieces (Fünf Stücke op. 10 & Variationen op. 30) and, especially, a series of Orchesterlieder, amazingly sung by the soprano Caroline Melzer. But the pièce de résistance was undoubtedly the Sacre of modern times: Matthias Spahlinger’s “passage/paysage” from 1990. What…a…piece…of…music!!
On disc these are “the ones” released this year that I’ve been playing constantly and recommend (bar two, all are newly recorded performances). The first two I have discovered only recently, but were released earlier in the year.
Steve Reich — Pulse/Quartet (Nonesuch; cd)
Christopher Fox — Topophony (HatHut; cd)
Joan La Barbara — The Early Immersive Music of (Mode; Blu-Ray); archive material
Luigi Nono — Risonanze Erranti (Shiiin; SACD) (contains a brand new recording, the second ever, as well as a never released archive recording under Nono’s own baton)
Luigi Nono — Como Una Ola de Fuerza & Onde Sofferte Serene (Kairos; SACD)
Olivier Messiaen — Catalogue d’Oiseaux (Pentatone; SACD) with Pierre-Laurent Aimard as pianist
Anton Bruckner — Symphony 1 (RCA Japan; SACD) performers: Paavo Järvi/Frankfurt Radio Symphony
Anton Bruckner — Symphony 1 (Unitel; Blu-Ray) performers: Christian Thielemann/Staatskapelle Dresden
Karl-Heinz Stockhausen — Kurzwellen (Mode; cd) first new recording since original in 1970 by Stockhausen himself
Johannes Brahms — Symphony 1 (RCA Japan; SACD) performers: Paavo Järvi/Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Arvo Pärt — The Symphonies (ECM; cd) performers: Tonu Kaljuste/Wroclaw Philharmonic
Igor Stravinsky — Le Sacre du Printemps & Chant Funèbre (world premiere recording) (Decca; cd) first recording of lost piece by Stravinsky / performers: Riccardo Chailly/Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Helmut Lachenmann — Got Lost/Streichtrio/Serynade (Wergo; cd) “Serynade”: written for and performed by his wife Yukiko Sugawara
Brahms/Webern/Berg — Brahms the Progressive (Odradek; cd) performer: Pina Napolitano
James Tenney — Harmonium (New World Records; cd)
Shostakovich — Symphonies Nos. 4 & 10; performers: Mikhail Pletnev & Russian National Orchestra (Pentatone, 2xSACD)
Schoenberg/Berg/Webern/Zemlinsky/Hugo Wolf/Alma Mahler — performers: Barbara Hannigan/Reinbert de Leeuw (Alpha, cd)
Bach — Cello Suites; performer: Yo-Yo Ma (Sony, 2cd)
Xenakis — Orchestral Works (Mode cd)
Dmitri Shostakovich — Symphonies nos 4 & 11; performers: Andris Nelsons / Boston SO (2xcd)
Igor Stravinsky — Petrushka (orig. vs.) + Jeu de cartes; performers: Valery Gergiev / Mariinsky (SACD)
Luigi Nono — Non Consumiamo Marx. Musica Manifesto Numero 1 (first reissue of original 1969 LP, vinyl in deluxe box with book, incl. CD)
Bela Bartok — Concerto for Orchestra; Boulez/NY Philharmonic (SACD reissue)
Allan Pettersson — Symphonies 5 & 7; Lindberg/Norrköping SO (SACD)