Saturday, December 22, 2012

NY Times: Best Classical Recordings of 2012

Konstantin Wolff's Masetto makes the NY Times list
We're suckers for "Best of..." lists, so seeing the New York Times' list of best classical music recordings of 2012 made for some pleasant reading. We're also suckers for any opera that has three baritone roles, so seeing Don Giovanni and La Bohème on the list made us particularly happy. The list also included one of our favorite non-vocal recordings of the year, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra's recording of the Brahms Serenades. This music is so fresh and vibrant on period instruments that you'll think that you're hearing Brahms for the first time. Also making the list is Christian Gerhaher's brilliant recording of lieder by Beethoven, Berg, Haydn and Schoenberg.

You can read the entire list on the New York Times website, but here are our highlights:

MOZART: ‘DON GIOVANNI’ Vocal soloists; Mahler Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin (Deutsche Grammophon 477 9878; three CDs). The impressive cast for this “Don Giovanni” includes Ildebrando D’Arcangelo in the title role, with Luca Pisaroni (Leporello), Joyce DiDonato (Donna Elvira), Diana Damrau (Donna Anna) and other fine artists, brought together in a wondrously fresh performance conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. ANTHONY TOMMASINI

PUCCINI: ‘LA BOHÈME’ Vocal soloists; Norwegian National Opera Orchestra, conducted by Eivind Gullberg Jensen (Electric Picture EPC01; DVD). The intellectually charged but dazzlingly theatrical director Stefan Herheim deconstructed the traditional sets of the Norwegian National Opera’s previous production of “La Bohème,” creating a mixture of old and new with a sober twist: Mimi dies of cancer at the start, and the opera is reconfigured as Rodolfo’s surreal, moving refusal to admit it. ZACHARY WOOLFE

BRAHMS: SERENADES Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas McGegan (Philharmonia Baroque Productions PBP-05; CD). These are the first period-instrument accounts of the two serenades that I’ve encountered, though that is the least of their charms. More to the point, they rank among the finest recorded performances of these underrated works, perhaps second only to Istvan Kertesz’s classic versions with the London Symphony Orchestra, on Decca. JAMES R. OESTREICH

‘FERNE GELIEBTE’ Christian Gerhaher, baritone; Gerold Huber, pianist (Sony Classical 8869935432; CD). The German baritone Christian Gerhaher, who took master classes with the great Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, would make his mentor proud with this recording of lieder by Beethoven, Schoenberg, Haydn and Berg. Mr. Gerhaher’s mellifluous voice is aptly complemented by the supple touch and deeply expressive playing of Gerold Huber, his superb pianist. VIVIEN SCHWEITZER

We're getting ready to publish the Barihunks "Best of 2012" list, so email us your favorites to Also, there are only nine days left to order your Barihunks Charity calendar. We are only 12 calendars short of our goal, so order today. Please remember that every penny of profit goes to benefit young artists. 

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