The best classical albums of 2011

Harrison Birtwistle, Joyce DiDonato and Anna Thorsvaldsdottir caught our ear.

0

Comments

Add +

  • Harrison Birtwistle, Night's Black Bird

    Harrison Birtwistle, Night's Black Bird

  • Joyce DiDonato, Diva/Divo

    Joyce DiDonato, Diva/Divo

  • Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Rhzma

    Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Rhzma

  • Hilary Hahn, Charles Ives: Four Sonatas

    Hilary Hahn, Charles Ives: Four Sonatas

  • Nathan Davis, The Bright and Hollow Sky

    Nathan Davis, The Bright and Hollow Sky

  • Gilles Vonsattel, Honens Recital

    Gilles Vonsattel, Honens Recital

  • Oregon Symphony, Music for a Time of War

    Oregon Symphony, Music for a Time of War

  • Morton Feldman, Orchestra

    Morton Feldman, Orchestra

  • Benjamin Britten, Winter Words

    Benjamin Britten, Winter Words

  • Ben Johnston, String Quartets 1, 5 and 10

    Ben Johnston, String Quartets 1, 5 and 10

Harrison Birtwistle, Night's Black Bird

Harrison Birtwistle, Night's Black Bird

1 Harrison Birtwistle, Night's Black Bird (NMC)
Conductor Ryan Wigglesworth led the Hall Orchestra in expertly played, riveting accounts of three recent pieces by the august British modernist Harrison Birtwistle, proving anew exactly why it is we still bother to make records.

2 Joyce DiDonato, Diva/Divo (Virgin Classics)
The notion of doing trouser-role arias and frillier fare on the same disc isn't altogether new, but it's never been done with more penetrating insight or stylish range than on this smartly programmed, opulently sung recital from a mezzo who's become America's sweetheart.

3 Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Rhzma (Innova)
Nothing is more exciting than discovering an emerging composer already in possession of a distinct, powerful voice; a point made eminently clear by this collection of mysterious, elemental chamber and orchestral pieces from Anna Thorvaldsdottir, a San Diego--based Icelander.

4 Hilary Hahn, Charles Ives: Four Sonatas (Deutsche Grammophon)
You could hardly wish for a more bountiful meeting of prominent performer and marginalized repertoire than this engaging match between fastidious, curious violinist Hilary Hahn (warmly supported by pianist Valentina Lisitsa) and Ives's gangly, gregarious sonatas.

5 Nathan Davis, The Bright and Hollow Sky (New Focus)
Long a tremendous asset to the International Contemporary Ensemble as both a brilliant percussionist and a resourceful composer, Nathan Davis finally documented five of his sonically beguiling works, with predictably rich results.

6 Gilles Vonsattel, Honens Recital (Honens)
In a year rich with rewarding solo-piano discs by Nelson Freire, Andrs Schiff and Paul Jacobs, among others, this suave Gallic program stood out both for liquid beauty (luscious Debussy and Ravel) and for imaginative programming (complementary works by Honegger and Holliger).

7 Oregon Symphony, Music for a Time of War (PentaTone)
Duplicating the audacious concert they presented during the inaugural Spring for Music festival at Carnegie Hall, Carlos Kalmar and the Oregon Symphony linked trenchant Ives, Britten, Vaughan Williams and John Adams works into a statement greater than the sum of its parts.

8 Morton Feldman, Orchestra (Mode)
MVP conductor Brad Lubman led the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin in a superlatively played and recorded survey of Feldman's orchestral music, ranging from the fractious Intersection I (1951) to the hauntingly placid Orchestra (1976).

9 Benjamin Britten, Winter Words (Avie)
Britten's underserved songs—some profound, some puckish, all effortlessly lovely—served as a stimulating calling card for Nicholas Phan, a stylish young tenor for whom great things lie ahead, and Myra Huang, his sensitive accompanist.

10 Ben Johnston, String Quartets 1, 5 and 10 (New World)
Steadfastly continuing a distinguished and sorely needed series, the Kepler Quartet provided absorbing accounts of early, middle and late works by an American maverick composer whose stature is only now being acknowledged fairly.

Users say

0 comments