The 10 best classical albums of 2012

by gabeatkinson / 06 December, 2012
A round up of this year's 10 best classical albums.
LIGETI: LE GRAND MACABRE, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona (Arthaus Blu-ray/Triton). No postwar opera equals this 1996 comedy of the absurd by the top dog of yesteryear’s avant-garde. It’s his masterpiece. The overture for 12 car horns and an 18m female nude set its humorous tone. It’s already a classic on opera house circuits and is 2012’s top DVD release.

LIGETI, PINTSCHER, CAGE, XENAKIS, Jack Quartet (Wigmore Hall Live/Ondine). Standouts are Ligeti’s Quartet No 2 and Xenakis’s audacious Tetras (1983), a work ahead of its time. The latter has a giant vision like the composer himself – a professional mathematician and Le Corbusier’s architectural protégé. Conservatives prohibited; strictly for exploratory buffs.

AURORA AUSTRALIS, Various (Atoll 2CD). Top world music CD. For Kiwis, this recording of the 2007 Asia Pacific Festival in Wellington is the most important world music issue I’ve had. Its musical identity stares us in the face, with the nine-day festival of New Zealand music combined with that of our Asian partners all curated by Jack Body and wonderfully recorded by Atoll’s Wayne Laird.

KAIJA SAARIAHO: WORKS FOR ORCHESTRA (Ondine 4CD). “Shocking emotional nakedness,” hypes director Peter Sellars. But it does reveal how surprisingly palatable and emotionally raw this high-flying Finnish woman is for an experimentalist, in this case timbral distortions built on the spectralism of the Paris IRCAM centre under Pierre Boulez in the 1970s.

ANTHONY RITCHIE: A BUGLE WILL DO – SYMPHONY NO 3 AND OTHER ORCHESTRAL WORKS, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (Atoll). There’s emotional rawness aplenty in Ritchie’s Symphony No 3, too. That and Revelations (what happens after we die?) are the stunners in his quartet of works that make this the top New Zealand composition CD of the year.

LISZT and MESSIAEN: PIANO WORKS, Fredrik Ullén (BIS/Ode). Comparing the Christian beliefs of two visionaries draws out a most original programme design. Ullén’s rhythmic clarity in the complex Hindu Deçitalas of Messiaen’s Cantéyodjayâ and Liszt’s St Francis Walking on the Waters are the two highest points.

LA VOIX DE L’EMOTION, Monserrat Figueras (Alia Vox 2CD). Figueras died last year and La Voix is regrettably no more. Her warm, sensual and graceful voice made her top singer in the postwar early music revival of four decades. This memorial with husband Jordi Savall’s Hesperion XXI ensemble, supplemented by a large booklet, is the ideal tribute.

VELJO TORMIS: CURSE UPON IRON – WORKS FOR MALE CHOIR, Orphei Drängar (BIS/Ode). The flair of Estonia’s Tormis makes him the hottest property of the choral renaissance in the Balto-Finnic area. Sample the title track for male choir and drum. A wonder it hasn’t the popularity of Orff’s Carmina Burana.

DEBUSSY: THE SOLO PIANO WORKS, Noriko Ogawa (BIS 6CD). Ogawa’s crisp touch and coloration makes this a winner. Recent discoveries, including a worthwhile Images Book 3, intensify interest.

PIERRE BOULEZ: MÉMORIALE and DÉRIVES 1 & 2, Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain (Naive). Argentina’s Daniel Barenboim sold out the 3000-seat Mozarteum in Buenos Aires in 2010 with an incisive direction of Boulez’s 50-minute Dérive 2 and perceptive analysis in Spanish that bowled me. This release is a close second-best to amigo Danielito’s.
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


Zimbabwean self-confessed murderer tried to stay in NZ
71936 2017-05-01 06:41:25Z Currently

Zimbabwean self-confessed murderer tried to stay i…

by Jane Patterson

A former member of Robert Mugabe's secret police who admitted to rape, murder and torture has left NZ after he was denied a work visa.

Read more
Labour to release party list
71929 2017-05-01 06:24:33Z Currently

Labour to release party list

by Mei Heron

The Labour Party will release its party list today, with one casualty already confirmed - MP Sue Moroney has announced she will stand down.

Read more
Please don't mention Trump or our economic success
71892 2017-05-01 00:00:00Z Politics

Please don't mention Trump or our economic success…

by Graham Adams

It's election year — watch out for dog-whistles and half-truths.

Read more
Sir Douglas Myers: 1938-2017
71921 2017-05-01 00:00:00Z Profiles

Sir Douglas Myers: 1938-2017

by Pattrick Smellie

One of our most successful and controversial businessmen was a passionate advocate for New Zealand.

Read more
Podcast: New films Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Raw, Get Out
71959 2017-05-01 00:00:00Z Podcasts

Podcast: New films Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, …

by Noted

In this latest episode of the Screening Room, film critics James Robins and Darren Bevan pontificate and peruse the latest cinema releases.

Read more
Deborah Lipstadt: A matter of fact
71867 2017-04-30 00:00:00Z Profiles

Deborah Lipstadt: A matter of fact

by James Robins

When academic Deborah Lipstadt called self-styled historian David Irving a bigot who had falsified and distorted documents, he sued. Big mistake.

Read more
Why this Aucklander loves Takapuna and Devonport
71813 2017-04-30 00:00:00Z Where to go in Auckland

Why this Aucklander loves Takapuna and Devonport

by Paperboy

Auckland foodie Rebecca Jones makes the most of Takapuna’s market and Devonport’s lovely library.

Read more
Keeping it real: What part does humanity play in virtual reality?
71678 2017-04-30 00:00:00Z Technology

Keeping it real: What part does humanity play in v…

by Peter Griffin

As virtual- and augmented-reality apps swamp us, developers are urged to remember humanity.

Read more