The Best Discs Shine On in Hard Times
January 20, 2009
Among the Star-Ledger’s Top 10 discs for 2008 are these three great titles, available from Naxos:
Rued Langgaard: Symphony No. 1
Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Dausgaard, conductor
Da Capo 6.220525
The "problem child" of Danish music, eccentric composer Rued Langgaard (1893-1952) combined nostalgic neo-Romanticism with an experimental streak. Unloved in its own time, his vast First Symphony—subtitled "Mountain Pastorals"—is delicious deja vu for today's lovers of the nature-loving spiritualism of Bruckner, Mahler and Richard Strauss. This disc's luxuriant sound makes it seem as if the music were recorded in a cathedral of the outdoors.
Einojuhani Rautavaara: "Manhattan Trilogy," Symphony No. 8
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Pietari Inkinen, conductor
Lush and melodic, but with a modern edge, the music of Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara, 80, sounds like no other. His "Manhattan Trilogy" is a characteristically radiant concerto for orchestra. Young conductor Pietari Inkinen gets his New Zealand orchestra to play like a world-class ensemble, also giving knockout accounts of the shimmering Eighth Symphony and ecstatic, Van Gogh-inspired "Apotheosis."
Bach: Music for Lute-Harpsichord
Elizabeth Farr, lute-harpsichord
A vanished Baroque hybrid, the lute-harpsichord combined the compass of a keyboard with the warmth of a plucked instrument. J.S. Bach obviously loved its gorgeous, gut-strung sound, leaving behind his own lute-harpsichord specs. American keyboardist Elizabeth Farr—whose William Byrd collection was one of last year's best recordings—includes not only works Bach wrote especially for lute-harpsichord or lute in this double-disc set, but also transcriptions of originals for cello and violin, with even the familiar music taking on a veil of mystery.
- Bradley Bambarger, Star-Ledger (New Jersey), 30 December 2008
Langgaard Biography & Discography
Rautavaara Biography & Discography
Bach Biography & Discography
Byrd Biography & Discography
Danish National Symphony Orchestra Biography & Discography
Thomas Dausgaard Biography & Discography
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Biography & Discography
Pietari Inkinen Biography & Discography
Elizabeth Farr Biography & Discography