The internet portion of my journey was imponderable and overwhelming, until I discovered two things: a site called Instant Encore (where I first learned about Contemporaneous), and something called Listening Listfully 2010, on a blog by the name of A Fool in the Forest. The person behind the blog is George Wallace, and he’s back this year with a fabulous new 2011 edition of that list. I commend it, and the more detailed posts that will follow, to you all.
Along the way, my contemporary/new music journey took an unexpected turn, all due to another blog, I’ll Think of Something Later. The person behind that blog is David Nice. Nice, whose knowledge of classical music (and a lot of other things) is matched by his passionate engagement and generosity of spirit, has led me back into the entire canon of classical music and immeasurably enriched my listening life. Also thanks to him, I was reminded of the BBC Music Magazine, to which I have once more subscribed and which I find an indispensible guide.
I can’t begin to come up with a year-end list that’s anything more than my own idiosyncratic trip down memory lane. (I endorse in full what George Wallace writes in the introduction to his list this year.) At the same time, I couldn’t let the year go by without marking at least some of the music that has brought me such joy.
My lists are in alphabetical order, not by rank. It is beyond me to rank this music; I love it all.
Music I’ve Listened to a Lot This Year
The list is by composer, listing a favorite work or works, and limited to works that are available to the public in some form. (The lack of public availability, as of yet, is the only reason you won't see Mattingly's Atlas listed here.) For CDs with multiple composers, the CD is listed by the name of the ensemble. The selections aren't confined to music recorded in 2011, but reflect music I've listened to a lot this year.
1. Adams, John Coolidge (Dharma at Big Sur)
2. Bach, Johann Sebastian (Cello Suites)
3. Britten, Benjamin (Illuminations); more on Illuminations here
4. Bryars, Gavin (The Solway Canal)
5. Chen, Qigang (Iris dévoilée, Reflet d’un temps disparu)
6. Elgar, Edward (Sea Pictures)
7. Friedman, Jefferson (String Quartets Nos. 2 & 3)
8. Greenstein, Judd (Escape, The Night Gatherers, Le Tombeau de Ravel); more on Le Tombeau here
9. Harrison, Lou (Suite for Violin and American Gamelan)
10. Janus Trio (i am not CD); more on Janus and i am not here
11. Kirkland Snider, Sarah (Penelope CD); more on Penelope here
12. Mattingly, Dylan (Going To Where The Rain Falls, Lighthouse, Six Night Sunrise); more on Mattingly here
13. Metcalf, John (Paths of Song CD); more on Metcalf here
14. Pohjonen, Kimmo & Kosminen, Samuli (Uniko CD)
15. Ravel, Maurice (Complete Solo Piano Music CD, Steven Osborne, pianist); more on Ravel’s La Valse here and here
16. Schubert, Franz (String Quintet in C Major)
17. Sculthorpe, Peter (My Country Childhood, Earth Cry)
18. Shostakovich, Dmitri (24 Preludes and Fugues CD, Jenny Lin, pianist)
19. Sibelius, Jean (Luonnotar, Kullervo & a whole host of other symphonic poems); more on Luonnotar here and here
20. Tchaikovsky, Pyotr (The Tempest)
21. The Sixteen (Ikon CD)
22. Twining, Toby (Eurydice CD); more on Eurydice here
23. Vaughan Williams, Ralph (The Lark Ascending)
24. yMusic (Beautiful Mechanical CD)
25. Weinberg, Mieczslaw (Fantasia for Cello and Orchestra)
Memorable Live Performances
1. Bard Chapel of the Holy Innocents: Contemporaneous, The Roots Run Deep
2. Bard Chapel of the Holy Innocents: Contemporaneous, I Used to Know Her Name
3. Bard Fisher Center: The Music of Lou Harrison
4. Ecstatic Music Festival: Sarah Kirkland Snider, Shara Worden & yMusic
5. Green Space: Trout Week, Janus Trio
6. Metropolitan Opera: Nixon in China (John Coolidge Adams, composer and conductor; James Maddalena as Nixon)
7. Metropolitan Opera: Satyagraha (Philip Glass, composer; Dante Anzolini, conductor; Richard Croft as Ghandi) (this from someone who does not generally warm to Philip Glass and went only at the behest of friends)
8. Metropolitan Opera: Wozzeck (Alban Berg, composer; James Levine, conductor)
9. Park Avenue Armory: Inuksuit (John Luther Adams, composer)
10. Poughkeepsie Day School: In C (Terry Riley, composer; Contemporaneous with PDS students, parents, and faculty; for more on PDS, click here and here)
A Prufrock’s Dozen of Ensembles To Look Out For
1. Ahn Trio (Thanks to Mark Kerstetter for spotting this)
2. Chiara String Quartet
3. Companion Star
5. Eighth Blackbird
6. Janus Trio
7. Kronos Quartet
8. NOW Ensemble
9. Roomful of Teeth
11. The Smith Quartet
12. yMusic, with special mention of the redoubtable Nadia Sirota; more on Sirota here.
Selections for Listening
John C. Adams, Dharma at Big Sur, Part 1: A New Day
Lou Harrison, Suite for Violin and American Gamelan II: Estampie
Janus Trio playing N. Cameron Britt's Gossamer Albatross
With grateful thanks to Thomas Deneuville at I Care If You Listen for creating this wonderful video. At about 5:57, you can hear the Janus Trio perform Gossamer Albatross.
John Metcalf, Mapping Wales (Vivace)
© John Metcalf. By kind permission of John Metcalf.
Kimmo Pohjonen & Samuli Kosminen, Uniko, Part 1: Utu
Sarah Kirkland Snider, The Lotus Eaters, from Penelope
Piotr Tchaikovsky, The Tempest (excerpt)
The Next Generation: Terry Riley's In C at Poughkeepsie Day School