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Top 15 Classical Releases, January 2013

by Seth Colter Walls

Top 15 Classical Releases, January 2013


The holiday season brings more deluxe-issue sets than anyone can process in real time: Consider Decca's 20-CD reissue of every recording of The Rite of Spring they'd ever, ever released, the better to celebrate the ballet's 100th birthday. So, over the holidays, I retreated with those sets -- including some all-new recordings from pianist Martha Argerich -- and put together this six-hour playlist. It heavily features the jazz-meets-classical world of Paris' 1920s cabaret scene, as reimagined by pianist Alexandre Tharaud. But, in the spirit of putting 2012 to bed, this Classical Roundup also includes stuff we missed earlier in the year.

Those styles run from the hardcore modernism of string-quartet pieces by Michael Finnissy and Harrison Birtwistle to my new favorite recording of John Adams' Harmonielehre. And Christian Gerhaher's cycle of first and second Viennese School composers was easy to miss, since Sony hardly promoted it in the U.S. (It's not to be missed.) Oh, and that Rite of Spring box? Turns out it contains a renowned (but long out-of-print) 1959 recording by Antal Dorati. It's not new in any sense of marketing, but the rigor of the performance will always feel up to date. It even hangs with the New York Philharmonic's latest take on Stravinsky, which also saw a release right at the end of the year.