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Posted at 12:23 PM ET, 12/17/2010

Top 10 for '10 (plus four)

By Anne Midgette

After linking so many other peoples' Top-Ten lists in my Grammy post the other day, and after airing my own picks on Soundcheck yesterday, I can finally present my annotated list in the Washington Post: my ten favorite CDs of 2010 (coming to print in Sunday's paper).

It was a rough choice this year, and there were some worthy also-rans: Stockhausen's Mantra, Maya Beiser's Provenance, Paul Jacobs's Livre du Saint-Sacrement really belong on the list as well.

I also wanted to include a supplementary greatest-hits list: noteworthy CD releases by local artists. Unfortunately, space constraints prevented this being included in the paper. But here it is:

Adamo, Late Victorians. Sylvia Alimena, Eclipse Chamber Orchestra [Naxos]. Mark Adamo used to write reviews for the Washington Post when he was on his way up to become the acclaimed composer of “Little Women” (out this year on DVD) and other operas. “Late Victorians,” written in 1994 (but revised in 2007), is a moving collage of texts and music about the AIDS crisis.
Monsigny, “Le Déserteur.” Ryan Brown, Opera Lafayette [Naxos]. Opera Lafayette continues its string of Naxos releases with a piece that's a watershed in the development of French opéra-comique, that was the greatest success by this 18th-century composer, that had not been done in this country for a couple of hundred years when Opera Lafayette brought it to DC in 2009, and that is, at the very least, a charming curiosity.
Wachner, Choral Works vol. 1 [Naxos]. The Washington Chorus’s energetic conductor took on yet another job this year, leading music at New York’s Trinity Church. He also released this disk of his own choral music, which is pleasant on the ear, if sometimes anodyne.
Dvorak, Symphonies 7 and 8. Marin Alsop, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra [Naxos]. The “other” BSO (not Boston!) and Alsop continue their Dvorak symphony cycle with the kind of solid, competent work Alsop has become known for (they also released the 6th, later in the year). Amusingly, this release had competition from a conductor who until this summer was a local rival: Iván Fischer, who ended his principal conductor tenure at the NSO in June, also released a Dvorak 7th this year with the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

Your turn. What CDs did you particularly love this year, and what do you think I left out?

By Anne Midgette  | December 17, 2010; 12:23 PM ET
Categories:  CD reviews, random musings  
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Comments

The Tennstedt Mahler 2nd is on my listening list, but meanwhile, I enjoyed another great live recording from the conductor: his only concert with the Vienna Philharmonic. This took place at the Salzburg Festival in 1982, and apparently there was some serious friction between conductor and the orchestra. As a result, Tennstedt never conducted the VPO again - though one must point out that the VPO worked with some conductors at the Salzburg Festival who never conducted it again: Masur, Temirkanov, and Rowicki are some examples.

The CD contains works by Beethoven (the Eroica Symphony) and Mahler - Adagio from the 10th symphony. These are broad readings (Mahler at about 29 minutes is as long as it gets) yet the conductor never loses the intensity and gets some marvelous - though not error-free - playing from the band. Your quote, "offering each passage as if it were being torn, with effort, from his heart", certainly applies here as well and I couldn't have said it better.

This is a CD that's only released in Japan; the label is Altus which has a VPO live series - not to miss from this series is Carl Schuricht's Bruckner.

More to come...

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | December 17, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Here's one of my favorite christmas CDs:

http://www.amazon.com/Czech-Christmas-Pastorals-Pastourelles-Tcheques/dp/B000005VZM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1292625621&sr=8-1

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | December 17, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Here's one of my favorite christmas CDs:

http://www.amazon.com/Czech-Christmas-Pastorals-Pastourelles-Tcheques/dp/B000005VZM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1292625621&sr=8-1

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | December 17, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Totally OT but I was curious to see that Moby Dick was your pick for 21st century opera in Opera News. I don't second guess the choice- not having seen it- but the accompanying para mentioned your own surprise? Can we expect a post expanding on this, without some of the Opera News space limitations?

Posted by: ianw2 | December 19, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Nelson Freire's Chopin Nocturnes,on Decca.

Posted by: wmbukowski | December 20, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

My biggest issue with CDs is that I rarely purchase the latest releases since I have my plans laid-out in advance for the next six months or so. There are exceptions (the Tennstedt CD that I have talked about) yet generally what I listened to in 2010 are older releases.

But there were wonderful discoveries. I already talked about Wanda Wilkomirska and Stoika Milanova, two great violinists from Eastern Europe. I also continued my exploration of Dvorak's operas with two lesser known titles: Vanda and The Cunning Peasant. They are forgotten for a reason, although I did not regret listening to them, and I can only speculate of what Kubelik might have done leading The Cunning Peasant. Still, my favorite of Dvorak's less known operas (that is, all except Rusalka) remains The Jacobin, with The King and Charcoal Burner in the third place.

I also continued the exploration of carols of different countries. Last year was Catalan carols, with two CDs on the label La Ma De Guido. A particularly delightful carol is La Pastora Caterina, though I would have to say that I ultimately prefer Czech and Romanian carols. This year is I will explore Polish songs, with perhaps Scandinavian next year.

I also continued my exploration of the great codncutors of the past: Stokowski, Krips, Kubelik, Tennstedt (of course), Jochum, Sanderling, and Celibidache. A disappointment was the much praised Krips / Concertgebouw Mozart cycle. They are worth listening two and there are many felicitious touchings, but I feel that the conductor is too laid-back. Maybe they were recorded some 20-years too late: a live Krips / Concertgebouw Beethoven 7th from the 1950s is much more exciting.

And I do believe that I should say a word about Celibidache's concerts with the Koln Radio Orchestra from the 1950s issued last year by Orfeo, since they proof once more - if proof was needed - that Celi was not always a slow conductor (listen also on YouTube to clips of young Celi.) The orchestra is not the most polished (horrible oboe, weak flute and clarinet), the sound is far from ideal even in comparisson to other live recordings of the orchestra from that era (those led by Klemperer for example), yet none of this matters. There's a towering Tchaikovsky 6 (listen to how Celi shapes the lyrical theme in the first part, it almost comes out of nowhere), some great Hindemith, Blacher (both composers loved Celi), and Stravinsky, and the marvelous Brahms Requiem with Hans Hotter, who cancelled a lied tour to work with Celi, only to fight because Celi considered his singing too operatic!

But I will close with another CD released this year, although again only in Japan. The live Bruckner 8 from 1990 by Celi with his own Munich Philharmonic. This is one of the greatest versions of the piece, Celibidache at his luminous best, a better (and faster) recording than the one released by EMI - although even there I love the unbelievable slow movement. Happy 2011.

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | December 21, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

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