Absolutely, Totally, Mozart

This might be something like the experience of buying a multi-volume encyclopedia in days of yore: you didn’t know you needed it until you saw and coveted it, then there it sat on your bookshelf, admired by visitors yet rarely visited by yourself.

This is something different though: Mozart 225: The New Complete Edition (200 CD Box Set). This is something you will actually open up and play and enjoy through the years.

Yes, it’s expensive, and cost alone is an issue. So is it a value?

  • 200 discs for $410 = $2.05/disc, which is only slightly more than the per track cost of the latest pop hit.
  • Actual cost can be lower than $410, which is the Amazon price as of this writing. Presto Classical has it for $344, but shipping costs are high. Amazon UK has this for the best price (again as of this writing); with shipping included the price in USD is around $350. That’s $1.75/disc.
  • That per disc value only matters if the contents are, well, valuable to the consumer. And if you want a complete Mozart box, the Brilliant Classics one is $169 and it’s quite good, full of solid recordings. Is this box 1.5 – 2 times better?81os0jbut3l-_sl1500_

In my critical opinion—as long as you wish to have recordings of all of Mozart’s works—it is:

I have not heard the whole set (and am certain no one will be sending me a promo), but I am familiar with a substantial number of the recordings collected—there is a PDF of the CD contents here.

The first thing to note is that there is a heavy emphasis on period performance. The box collects Symphonies from the English Concert, the Academy of Ancient Music, the English Baroque Soloists, and a handful of others, all excellent ensembles (the bulk comes from Trevor Pinnock’s excellent English Concert recordings). There are also the fortepiano Piano Concerto recordings with Malcolm Bilson and Robert Levin, which are full of improvisation and are absolutely essential.

There are also some period performance recordings of the operas, but not exclusively so, and here is where the virtues of the box are most clearly represented. This is a Decca release,  but Decca is currently under the ownership of UMG, which also owns Deutsche Grammaphon, Archiv, etc, which means that they have a superior, rich catalogue to choose from. Here are some of the opera recordings included:

  • La finta giardiniera, Mozarteum-Orchester Salzburg, Leopold Hager
  • Zaide, Staatskapelle Berlin, Bernhard Klee
  • Idomeneo, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner
  • Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood
  • Le nozze di Figaro, Drottningholm Court Theatre Orchestra, Arnold Östman
  • Don Giovanni, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séquin
  • Così fan tutte, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Georg Solti
  • Die Zauberflöte, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

These are the best versions in the company’s archives, no matter the philosophy, mixing period and modern performances.

There are also many CDs with what are labeled “Classic” and “Historical” performances, so the piano works from Uchida and Brendel are augmented by Gulda and Haskil and Horowitz, the Symphonies are duplicated through a handful of Karl Böhm’s recordings, which at their best are fabulous. And these just scratch the surface of material that is supplemental to the core purpose, but generous and essential for delivering insight into the legacy of recording Mozart; there are 7 CDs of classic aria performances, there is the complete Erich Kleiber Figaro, which may be no longer essential but is incredibly musical. There are 3 CDs of music meant for private performance, 21 CDs of fragments, music that Mozart arranged (his own and others), and incomplete works finished by others, and a further 7 of what are labeled “Doubtful Works.” (Five hours of the music included has been recorded new just for the set.)

So yes, this is the one, complete not only in that it presents all of Mozart that is in common practice, but complete in that it is every work that the man produced, and with multiple views of some of the most notable ones. Documentation includes of a new Kochel guide.

This is a lifetime supply of the greatest musical art. Available October 28.

P.S. In the spirit of less perhaps being more, I also strongly recommend the upcoming release of Teodor Currentzis’ latest Mozart opera recordingDon Giovanni. Currentzis is the only conductor who is as interesting as René Jacobs in Mozart, and his style and ideas are dramatically different and equally rewarding.

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September of His Years

80 is going to be a very good year for Steve Reich

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80 is going to be a very good year for Steve Reich (born October 3, 1936). There are concerts around the world celebrating his achievements, and he will be a prominent, season long presence here in New York City.

You can read my reviews of two recent concerts, and looking closely ahead:

  • October 25: Ensemble Signal is back at Miller Theatre for one of their 6 p.m., free Pop-Up Concerts, playing Cello Counterpoint, NY Counterpoint, and the early, experimental Pendulum Music.
  • October 29: At Juilliard, Jeffrey Milarsky conducts the AXIOM ensemble in early and recent pieces, including the gorgeous Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ, and City Life, which increasingly builds an importance equal to Music for 18 Musicians.
  • November 1: In Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, ICE, So Percussion, Synergy Vocals, and conductor David Robertson will play Quartet, the video opera Three Tales, and the world premiere of Pulse. It’s worth noting here that Reich continues to put make outstanding new pieces that are moving his style forward into new areas of harmony, rhythm, and form.
  • December 10: National Sawdust and the World Music Institute are presenting a concert with Ghanaian master drummer Gideon Alorwoyie and Mantra Percussion, playing traditional music and excerpts from Drumming.

And if you can’t wait, or you can’t make it, order yourself Steve Reich: The ECM Recordings, a neat little box to be released September 30 that collects the first recording of Music for 18 Musicians, probably the single most important record of the last 50 years, along with everything else ECM released (which includes Octet, which Reich later revised into Eight Lines). Consider this an essential part of your music library.

It Is In The Brewing Luminous: "Bitches Brew" Buying Guide

UPDATE: Now that I’m writing a book on this album, it’s an ideal time to revisit and revise this previous post from way back when, four years ago, at the 40th anniversary of the release of Bitches Brew. The most important new information is that the burning set in the video, which had previously only been available through the expensive and extravagant Collector’s Edition, can now be had digitally and reasonably over at Concert Vault, for the price of membership plus $5.00. It’s a must-hear, must-have concert.

Soundcheck had a smackdown over which classic recording from Miles Davis was more influential, Kind of Blue or Bitches Brew? There’s really only one possible answer. Kind of Blue is a great, beautiful record, but it’s influence has been relatively slight. Miles’ introduction of modal playing didn’t even shift Coltrane and Cannonball, on the same record, away from their intense and joyous running of changes, and while pretty much every jazz musician who goes through any kind of organized pedagogy works with modal practice and playing (I did in the High School program at Eastman), it never really became a school or style, rather just another tool in the kit.

Fifty years later, Kind of Blue has become an object of popular worship, and that’s problematic. Yes, the music is great and gorgeous, but it seems that what has become more important is the style, the stance, the atmosphere. The record has become a symbol of a certain kind of hipness, a badge of the listener’s qualities, especially the ones (s)he imagines for her/himself. The actual music tends to get lost in the fog of echt-cool. No one seems to actually hear how Coltrane eschews the scales to produce his marvelous vertical solo on “Blue In Green,” perhaps the finest moment in the saxophonist’s career. It’s less an album today than an icon, and icons are made to be broken.

Bitches Brew is the iconoclastic answer, a recording that has had a profound influence on musical culture, from jazz to pop styles and, I believe on the broad range of improvised music that has been practiced across the world over the last forty years. It has none of the seductive style of the previous album, but it doesn’t confront the listener. It presents its powerful, uncompromising stance with an invigorating indifference, with such powerful yet lightly worn confidence in its own qualities that it feels itself beyond criticism, beyond hip, beyond cool. It doesn’t need you to like it, but it knows you need it to like you. It’s also, in its own way, a beautiful record. The question with the recording is not its influence but which package to buy?

There is the 2 CD standard set (and comparable download) that is the original recording along with the bonus track “Feio.” There is also the Complete Bitches Brew Sessions box set, which augments the original with separate tracks, comprising a total of 4 CDs, but those can also be found on Big Fun, although with the box you get a dense, detailed booklet. Unlike the Complete In A Silent Way Sessions, though, there is no material that gives any idea of how the tracks on the original release were actually put together, and the studio process, especially Teo Macero’s tape editing, was integral to the music, which is a combination of tremendous playing and tremendous after-the-fact musical construction.

This basic decision is now complicated by Sony’s production of two new and different editions, the Legacy one and the Collector’s Edition . The latter, an extravaganza priced in the three figures, is packed with a CD edition of the record plus a vinyl pressing of the record plus audio and DVD of the same material in concert plus a book, a “memorabilia envelope” and a poster! Okay! If you have the money to spend, you’re welcome to it, but I think the best choice is the Legacy edition. It’s a 2 CD/1 DVD collection, with the original recording plus material that has long been unavailable (and is on neither the standard edition or the Complete one), single-length edits of “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down,” “Spanish Key,” “Great Expectations” and “Little Blue Frog.” I wonder how often those were heard on jukeboxes? And although there’s no live audio, the DVD is a concert from Copenhagen in 1969, in excellent sound and vintage videotape, the band comprised of Miles, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette burning darkly through some of the best of his late ’60s material. The only thing missing is a reprint of the original liner notes from Ralph J. Gleason in an otherwise fine booklet from Greg Tate. Overall, it’s fantastic.

That alone was worth the cost for me in duplicating my standard set and is certainly the one to get for anyone who doesn’t yet have this music (the iTunes download appears to include the video portion as well) and is highly recommended even for those who do, especially considering the price, at least at J&R last weekend, was $16.99. And for those who don’t yet have this music, why the hell not?

Bitches Brew is one of the great archives of recorded music, a work that has one foot in popular styles, rock and funk, and the other in some of the most intellectually and aesthetically experimental music of the 20th century. It does the impossible, it brings together the strains of American popular musical culture – blues, rock, jazz, funk – parsed through the sieve of musique concrète into the ultimate Platonic emulsification. It’s enthralling and even a bit disturbing, it seems to spring from some ancient collective consciousness that Miles has directed all the musicians to tap into. There’s some secret language that they understand intuitively, they don’t translate it but let us listen in on their conversation. The sound, especially on the title track, can be shattering, Miles trumpet crying out from some far off, mysterious, even frightening land. The “B” disc of the old LP set is slightly more straightforward, with the rave-ups of “Spanish Key” and “John McLaughlin,” the slow burn of “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down” and the repose of “Sanctuary,” with its hints of “Stella By Starlight.” That’s as close as the album gets to song form, though, and that’s why it still sounds as fresh and daring as always. Musicians working in popular forms, even at the creative end of jazz, still have problems breaking loose of song form while maintaining some kind of clear organization. Bitches Brew manages that feat for its duration and that’s because of Miles as bandleader, filling the chairs with cats who can follow his principles. Holland and Harvey Brooks lay down geological bass lines, DeJohnette and Lenny White define the spaces in time, Chick and Joe Zawinul play some of the darkest electric piano on record, McLaughlin, Shorter and Bennie Maupin add smears of color and pithy solos to support the leader. There’s space, density, motion, the music never resolves, but instead of leaving us frustrated and unsatisfied, we just want to come back for more. Dig it.

It Is In The Brewing Luminous: "Bitches Brew" Buying Guide

UPDATE: Now that I’m writing a book on this album, it’s an ideal time to revisit and revise this previous post from way back when, four years ago, at the 40th anniversary of the release of Bitches Brew. The most important new information is that the burning set in the video, which had previously only been available through the expensive and extravagant Collector’s Edition, can now be had digitally and reasonably over at Concert Vault, for the price of membership plus $5.00. It’s a must-hear, must-have concert.

Soundcheck had a smackdown over which classic recording from Miles Davis was more influential, Kind of Blue or Bitches Brew? There’s really only one possible answer. Kind of Blue is a great, beautiful record, but it’s influence has been relatively slight. Miles’ introduction of modal playing didn’t even shift Coltrane and Cannonball, on the same record, away from their intense and joyous running of changes, and while pretty much every jazz musician who goes through any kind of organized pedagogy works with modal practice and playing (I did in the High School program at Eastman), it never really became a school or style, rather just another tool in the kit.

Fifty years later, Kind of Blue has become an object of popular worship, and that’s problematic. Yes, the music is great and gorgeous, but it seems that what has become more important is the style, the stance, the atmosphere. The record has become a symbol of a certain kind of hipness, a badge of the listener’s qualities, especially the ones (s)he imagines for her/himself. The actual music tends to get lost in the fog of echt-cool. No one seems to actually hear how Coltrane eschews the scales to produce his marvelous vertical solo on “Blue In Green,” perhaps the finest moment in the saxophonist’s career. It’s less an album today than an icon, and icons are made to be broken.

Bitches Brew is the iconoclastic answer, a recording that has had a profound influence on musical culture, from jazz to pop styles and, I believe on the broad range of improvised music that has been practiced across the world over the last forty years. It has none of the seductive style of the previous album, but it doesn’t confront the listener. It presents its powerful, uncompromising stance with an invigorating indifference, with such powerful yet lightly worn confidence in its own qualities that it feels itself beyond criticism, beyond hip, beyond cool. It doesn’t need you to like it, but it knows you need it to like you. It’s also, in its own way, a beautiful record. The question with the recording is not its influence but which package to buy?

There is the 2 CD standard set (and comparable download) that is the original recording along with the bonus track “Feio.” There is also the Complete Bitches Brew Sessions box set, which augments the original with separate tracks, comprising a total of 4 CDs, but those can also be found on Big Fun, although with the box you get a dense, detailed booklet. Unlike the Complete In A Silent Way Sessions, though, there is no material that gives any idea of how the tracks on the original release were actually put together, and the studio process, especially Teo Macero’s tape editing, was integral to the music, which is a combination of tremendous playing and tremendous after-the-fact musical construction.

This basic decision is now complicated by Sony’s production of two new and different editions, the Legacy one and the Collector’s Edition . The latter, an extravaganza priced in the three figures, is packed with a CD edition of the record plus a vinyl pressing of the record plus audio and DVD of the same material in concert plus a book, a “memorabilia envelope” and a poster! Okay! If you have the money to spend, you’re welcome to it, but I think the best choice is the Legacy edition. It’s a 2 CD/1 DVD collection, with the original recording plus material that has long been unavailable (and is on neither the standard edition or the Complete one), single-length edits of “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down,” “Spanish Key,” “Great Expectations” and “Little Blue Frog.” I wonder how often those were heard on jukeboxes? And although there’s no live audio, the DVD is a concert from Copenhagen in 1969, in excellent sound and vintage videotape, the band comprised of Miles, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette burning darkly through some of the best of his late ’60s material. The only thing missing is a reprint of the original liner notes from Ralph J. Gleason in an otherwise fine booklet from Greg Tate. Overall, it’s fantastic.

That alone was worth the cost for me in duplicating my standard set and is certainly the one to get for anyone who doesn’t yet have this music (the iTunes download appears to include the video portion as well) and is highly recommended even for those who do, especially considering the price, at least at J&R last weekend, was $16.99. And for those who don’t yet have this music, why the hell not?

Bitches Brew is one of the great archives of recorded music, a work that has one foot in popular styles, rock and funk, and the other in some of the most intellectually and aesthetically experimental music of the 20th century. It does the impossible, it brings together the strains of American popular musical culture – blues, rock, jazz, funk – parsed through the sieve of musique concrète into the ultimate Platonic emulsification. It’s enthralling and even a bit disturbing, it seems to spring from some ancient collective consciousness that Miles has directed all the musicians to tap into. There’s some secret language that they understand intuitively, they don’t translate it but let us listen in on their conversation. The sound, especially on the title track, can be shattering, Miles trumpet crying out from some far off, mysterious, even frightening land. The “B” disc of the old LP set is slightly more straightforward, with the rave-ups of “Spanish Key” and “John McLaughlin,” the slow burn of “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down” and the repose of “Sanctuary,” with its hints of “Stella By Starlight.” That’s as close as the album gets to song form, though, and that’s why it still sounds as fresh and daring as always. Musicians working in popular forms, even at the creative end of jazz, still have problems breaking loose of song form while maintaining some kind of clear organization. Bitches Brew manages that feat for its duration and that’s because of Miles as bandleader, filling the chairs with cats who can follow his principles. Holland and Harvey Brooks lay down geological bass lines, DeJohnette and Lenny White define the spaces in time, Chick and Joe Zawinul play some of the darkest electric piano on record, McLaughlin, Shorter and Bennie Maupin add smears of color and pithy solos to support the leader. There’s space, density, motion, the music never resolves, but instead of leaving us frustrated and unsatisfied, we just want to come back for more. Dig it.

RecordCage

On the home page of this site, I maintain a news feed that keeps track of stories on John Cage, in this, his centennial year. I’ll also be writing a couple things for publication in other journals, and in the meantime, I troll the intertubes for news of new and reissued recordings (if you have a COMPLETEBOXSETEDITION fetish like me, you’re probably agonizing over who will be putting together a complete archive of his enormous catalog, and how much it’s going to cost in blood, sweet and money you/I don’t have. Will it be you, Mode?) and I’ve got some recommendations:

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thbicibl-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B006TYJ3RMThis is an excellent cornerstone for both completeness and quality. Schleiermacher’s playing and thinking are consistently clear and good. That he has his own particular style in much of this music, not just in terms of following Cage’s instructions to make choices in many pieces, but in terms of musical expression, is an important commentary on interpretation. Yes, Cage is open to interpretation, that matters and enhances his importance and, yes, greatness.

The 25 Year Retrospective Concert of John Cage – It was May, 1958 and Cage was already a vitally important artist, with so many more explorations and discoveries to come. This is an essential recording, not just as a stand-alone survey of early to mid-period masterpieces, but as a document of the history of ideas in civilization. This collection has been in and out of print for years, now re-issued by Wergo, and Amazon has the best price for the digital download version.

Wergo has also re-issued Grete Sultan’s important recording of the almost-impossible-to-play Etudes Australes, music written for her and the premiere recording (there’s also a fine, new one from Sabine Liebner, at a good price for download).

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thbicibl-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B007KYX1P0
The execs at Decca Classics have surprisingly, and gladly, decided to release a new recording of the Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano, played by John Tilbury!

Petr Kotik’s recording of the Concert for Piano and Orchestra with Atlas Eclipticalis, one of the very finest examples of a Cage performance and utterly beautiful, is available for download at the amazing price of $1.98! Too cheap not to buy.

San Francisco Symphony, Adams: Harmonielehre, Short Ride in a Fast Machine

In 1996, I went to a San Francisco Symphony concert with a good friend. The program was generally typical of orchestra concerts around the world; an overture, a concerto, intermission, a symphony. In the details, however, lay the brilliance of Michael Tilson Thomas’ musicianship, attitude and salesmanship (a vtial talent for a music director): Rossini’s “Overture to Semiramide;” the Haydn Cello Concerto in D, played by Lynn Harrell; and John Adams’ Harmonielehre. Before the music began I overheard peope in the seats behind us talking about the music, expressing their unfamiliarity with Adams and wondering why the modern piece was placed after intermission, when surely many people would leave so they wouldn’t have to endure a piece younger than they were.

The music on the first half was despatched with verve and charm, and the curious couple behind us decided to stay for the whole show. They had no idea what they were in store for. This was a tremendous performance of a great piece of music, and from the very first, crushing E minor chord, the orchestra played with ferocious intensity. The ovation at the end was one of the most passionate I’ve witnessed, and Adams came out for four standing ovations. Leaving the hall, the same couple talked excitedly about how that was the greatest concert they had ever seen. I don’t doubt it.

Harmonielehre is a standard of the orchestral repertoire, and a masterpiece. The San Francisco Symphony commissioned it, premiered it and made the first recording, and excellent one that has not been equalled by performances led by Simon Rattle and David Robertson. It was surpassed that night, though, and that night has now been surpassed by a new release from the Symphony’s own label, live performances of the symphony and the fanfare “Short Ride in a Fast Machine,” recorded in Davies Symphony Hall in December 2010 and September 2011.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thbicibl-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B0074B2MV8The composition speaks for itself. It’s an important work, one that found a way to combine Minimalist process with Romantic resolution and express itself with immediate, and profound, emotional and intellectual power. It belongs explicitly inside the history of western classical music, with its bits of Mahler and Sibelius, but it’s not stodgy, and even though it’s a generation old it sounds new every time because it updates the past and shows a new way forward, but there’s nothing off-putting or forbidding about it, in the clichéd manner that had the patrons wary about what to expect. One of Adams’ finest qualities is that he wears his intellectual and learning lightly. It’s always in the context of his pieces, but he communicates that substance with such direct and sincere power that anyone and everyone can accept what they’re hearing without feeling alienated or patronized.

The playing and communication of MTT and the orchestra on this recording are of the highest level. I write this in Brooklyn, and from the East Coast perspective, with maybe one visit a year and a slow trickle of recordings on their own label, it’s easy to overlook that this continues to be the finest orchestra in the country. They play with the utmost refinement, flexibility and musicality, and bear the conductor’s personal stamp of color and power. They’ve already produced the finest Mahler cycle on record and a series of astonishingly accomplished CDs in tandem with their excellent Keeping Score series. In the SACD format, their recordings are the finest engineered classical discs I have ever heard; the sound has weight, resonance yet sacrifices no detail, and the placement of the audio field puts the listener at and slightly above the podium, and at volume that is exciting. The music-making on this disc is forceful, sweeping, joyful. Harmonielehre is deep, humane music, matched here by the visceral and empathic playing. This will be one of the finest releases of 2012. Adams’ composition is an essential part of any music library, and now this is the essential recording of it.

Da Capo al Fine: Beethoven and Sibelius

It’s good we have these new discs, and it’s good this can be done with music. Musicians playing music is roughly comparable to writers reading the works of others for their own personal satisfaction and aesthetic inspiration. Writers read and re-read, and how they feel about a book will change over time, through age, experience and especially the prism of the other books they have read. But what can a writer do with this other than talk about it or use it as fuel for their work? Music is different. The size and scope of a symphony may be like a novel, but a symphony is a set of instructions for musicians to follow, it’s like taking dried mushrooms and reconstituting them in broth. The symphony preserves a composer’s ideas, but it requires musicians to turn it into something we can experience. And how musicians do that can, and should, change. What do weeks and years of meals, sleeping, love and heartache, travel, companionship and loneliness, satisfactions and frustrations, books and elections and family and clothes and clouds have to do with the length of a dotted eighth-note, the fullness of a crescendo, the relative weight of notes in a phrase, and especially the outpouring of inchoate, raw, wonderful emotion from deep in the chest, down through the arm and out of the baton or bow? Only absolutely everything.

From my new Classical TV column:

It’s good we have these new discs, and it’s good this can be done with music. Musicians playing music is roughly comparable to writers reading the works of others for their own personal satisfaction and aesthetic inspiration. Writers read and re-read, and how they feel about a book will change over time, through age, experience and especially the prism of the other books they have read. But what can a writer do with this other than talk about it or use it as fuel for their work? Music is different. The size and scope of a symphony may be like a novel, but a symphony is a set of instructions for musicians to follow, it’s like taking dried mushrooms and reconstituting them in broth. The symphony preserves a composer’s ideas, but it requires musicians to turn it into something we can experience. And how musicians do that can, and should, change. What do weeks and years of meals, sleeping, love and heartache, travel, companionship and loneliness, satisfactions and frustrations, books and elections and family and clothes and clouds have to do with the length of a dotted eighth-note, the fullness of a crescendo, the relative weight of notes in a phrase, and especially the outpouring of inchoate, raw, wonderful emotion from deep in the chest, down through the arm and out of the baton or bow? Only absolutely everything.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thbicibl-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B006UTDETE
There are two new discs in question, the first installment in the second Sibelius cycle from Osmo Vänskä, this time with the Minnesota Orchestra. It’s already quite different than his previous set, and shows a way with Sibelius that is refreshingly out of the ordinary on the contemporary scene (his previous cycle, with the Lahti Symphony, is consistently good and can still be had for the ridiculously low price of $7.99 for the complete download, meaning you really must buy it, even if you don’t like Sibelius … you will!) http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thbicibl-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B004Z4ZN4A
The other disc is Isabelle Faust’s return to the Beethoven Violin Concerto, paired with Berg’s Concerto. This is an exceptional recording with simply the finest playing of the Berg I’ve heard and incomparable playing of the Beethoven. It’s guaranteed to be one of the leading releases of 2012, and has earned a place in the Bit City library of essential recordings. Buy it. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thbicibl-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B0062QFZ10