1. GRIGORY SOKOLOV
Works by Mozart, Chopin, Rameau, Scriabin, and Bach The revered and reclusive Russian master Sokolov had sworn off recording for years. Happily he has relented, and now comes this mysteriously spellbinding disc from a Salzburg recital in 2008. Why is he often described as the greatest living pianist? The answer begins here.
2. BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 The BSO’s live performances of this work under the baton of Andris Nelsons were by turns brooding, harrowing, and electric. Here it anchors the first exciting release in the orchestra’s new Shostakovich project, boding well for the series as a whole.
3. BOSTON MODERN ORCHESTRA PROJECT
Lukas Foss: Complete Symphonies “A surprise that in retrospect seems right” — this is how Foss described what he searched for while composing. Well, there are many surprises here, and how right it seems to have Foss’s unjustly neglected symphonic legacy collected in these elegantly assured performances by BMOP under the baton of Gil Rose.
4. MieczysLaw WEINBERG
Concertos for cello, violin, and flute This disc brings together historic Weinberg performances by some leading lights of Soviet music, including Leonid Kogan and Mstislav Rostropovich. Kogan plays the Violin Concerto with a combination of verve and heat that are nothing short of astonishing. When will we hear these works in the concert hall?
5. KIM KASHKASHIAN, SARAH ROTHENBERG, AND OTHERS
“Rothko Chapel” For fans of Morton Feldman’s time-emancipating music (or Rothko’s abstract rafts of color), here is a coolly transfixing account of his most approachable masterwork, alongside works by Cage and Satie, with an
ensemble featuring the estimable violist Kashkashian.
Music of Orlande de Lassus The haunting “Missa super Dixit Joseph” and other motets by this 16th-century master, here in performances that are fluid, pristinely tuned, and exquisite.
7. EMERSON QUARTET and Reneé Fleming
Works by Berg and Wellesz From the venerable Emersons comes this generous serving of sensuous Viennese modernism. Best known is Berg’s “Lyric Suite,” in which they are joined by Fleming, who also lends a glowing soprano to an Egon Wellesz rarity, the “Sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett-Browning.”
8. TAKACS QUARTET and Marc-André Hamelin
Works by Shostakovich The Takacs players partnered with Hamelin for Shostakovich’s blockbuster Piano Quintet. If the crashing force of the opening pins your attention, it’s the quietly devastating Adagio that lingers in the mind, a fugue of fallen beauty.
9. INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ENSEMBLE
“In the Light of Air” Vast, glittering landscapes of contemporary sound from the young Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir. Forces of stasis and change are recast in each other’s image.
10. IGOR LEVIT
Music of Bach, Beethoven, and Rzewski A pellucid study in variations: Bach’s “Goldberg,” Beethoven’s “Diabelli” and, in an inspired gesture of linkage, Frederic Rzewski’s modern classic, “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!”
Chamber Works by Jerzy Fitelberg Thanks to the ARC Ensemble for retrieving another forgotten modern voice. In these premiere recordings, one discovers the piquant and surprisingly distinctive sound world of Fitelberg, showing once more how many worthy scores remain to be excavated from the rubble of a century.