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The best local classical albums of 2015

BEMF artistic directors Paul O’Dette (left) and Stephen Stubbs.Andre Costantini

Artem Belogurov

“American Romantics: The Boston Scene”

You could argue no masterpieces are resurrected by this illuminating recital, but you’d be missing the point. Belogurov, playing on a mellow 1873 Chickering, artfully surveys piano works by Boston’s best-known promulgators of the Romantic lineage: eminences Foote, Paine, and Chadwick, alongside forgotten figures like Ethelbert Nevin and Arthur Whiting. Of especially keen interest is the Rhapsody in E minor by Margaret Ruthven Lang, the first woman to have a composition played by the Boston Symphony — and who attended BSO concerts beyond her 100th birthday. (S.S.)


“Music From the Peterhouse Partbooks, Vol. 4”


Under Scott Metcalfe’s direction, the choir forges ahead with an impressive fourth entry in its five-volume traversal of English sacred music from the Peterhouse Partbooks. This one features an earthy yet impeccable recording of the “Missa Spes nostra” by Robert Jones along with works by Nicholas Ludford and Robert Hunt. (J.E.)


Monteverdi: “Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria”

Martin Pearlman and Boston Baroque deliver a lithe and touching account of Monteverdi’s exquisite score, using a new performance edition by Pearlman himself. (J.E.)


Handel: “Acis and Galatea”

Recorded in 2013 in Bremen, Germany, this is the original 1718 chamber version of Handel’s pastoral that BEMF first presented in 2009, and again this past Thanksgiving weekend. The approach is intimate and dramatic; the cast — Aaron Sheehan as Acis, Teresa Wakim as Galatea, Douglas Williams as Polyphemus, Jason McStoots as Damon, and Zachary Wilder as Coridon — is fervent; the recording is crystalline. As an encore to the 100-minute work, there’s Amanda Forsythe in Handel’s 1707 solo cantata “Sarei troppo felice.” (J.G.)


Lukas Foss: Complete Symphonies

American composer Lukas Foss once said that he admired Mozart for his capacity to “put things together that don’t belong together.” That beautifully describes his four symphonies, all of which receive their premiere recordings in this two-disc set. It’s customary to call Foss an eclectic, but his genius lay not just in evading categories but in yoking together disparate influences — Bach, atonalism, Copland, expressionism — into a style whose diversity was balanced by the unifying personality underlying it. BMOP’s performances, under artistic director Gil Rose, have all the vibrancy that this relentlessly original music deserves. The house label for Boston’s new-music orchestra has done plenty of worthwhile projects, but it’s hard to think of any more important than this. (D.W.)



“Siegfried Idyll”

This solo-piano disc includes fine accounts of works by Brahms and Liszt, but most fascinating of all is Deveau’s beautifully textured performance of Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll” in a rarely encountered arrangement by the Wagner acolyte Josef Rubinstein. (J.E.)



Transported by a recording of Morton Feldman’s otherworldly “Rothko Chapel” while studying music in college, composer Marti Epstein related in a recent Globe interview, she formed a style in which musical elements coincide or coalesce seemingly of their own volition. The four pieces elegantly rendered here by the Ludovico Ensemble range in length from under 2 minutes to more than 45, and call for varying instrumental forces. But all share qualities of spaciousness and luminosity, twinkling like constellations or twirling like mobiles. (S.S.)



Simple, even severe methods plus intense focus produce transfixing results on this latest self-released disc from a performer, composer, and sound artist who’s also one of the local scene’s hardiest organizers. His three pieces here have a Rothko-like quality: Elongated, uninflected violin strokes lap against pealing electronic tones like subtly contrasting color planes, conjuring ripples and shimmers as they lap and fuse. (S.S.)



Haydn: “The Creation”

Every bicentenary needs a souvenir recording, and here it is. Capping off H&H’s celebration of its first 200 years, Harry Christophers leads the period instrument orchestra and chorus in a robust and sure-handed account of a work it premiered in this country. (J.E.)


“Don’t Look Back”

Johnson, a composer and sound artist on the faculty of Wellesley College, writes songs that limn a number of dividing lines — pop vs. classical singing, electronics vs. acoustic instruments, concept album vs. mixtape — without coming down clearly on one side or the other. The thread that runs through all of them is an elusive sense of tragedy, dark narratives whose ending is alluded to but never clearly stated. That oblique approach doesn’t stop the songs from packing a strong emotional punch, especially the CD’s opener, “Dollar Beers (Redondo Beach ’96).” (D.W.)


Bach: Cello Suites

Accumulated insights from decades of cello playing are distilled in these soulful recordings of the canonical Bach Suites, recorded in Jordan Hall. Lesser also mines the lute arrangement of Fifth Suite for a deeper understanding of its cello sibling. (J.E.)