Despite the restart of live performance this year, the climate continued to be challenging for artists and audiences alike. 2021 however was a good year for recordings and I felt lucky to be able to listen to a number of fantastic new releases from Orchid Classics, Pentatone, Signum Classics, Deutsche Grammophon and Naxos.
From the seventy recordings I chose to listen to, I reviewed thirty CDS for ArtMuseLondon and from these, I came to my final list of fourteen favourites for 2021.
In the piano solo category : Igor Gryshyn playing Viktor Kosenko (1896-1938) and Scriabin on his album Transitions was life-affirming and utterly gorgeous. Orchid Classics
I have loved Francesco Piemontesi’s playing since I saw him play Mozart at the Wigmore Hall in 2016. Francesco Piemontesi’s CD Bach Nostalghia on Pentatone is just as good as I was expecting. Read my review by clicking on link below.
Pianist Yu Kosuge’s ongoing project Four Elements inspires her piano playing program – On Vol 111 she focuses on ‘Wind’. I thought her Beethoven Piano Sonata Op 31, No.2 ‘Tempest’ was particularly impressive. Orchid Classics.
In the Piano Concerto – Emmanuel Despax impressed with his Brahms Piano Concerto No.1 with BBC Symphony Orchestra – Review: https://artmuselondon.com/2021/07/04/despax-plays-his-dream-concerto/
Tedd Joselson’s Grieg and Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 also a joy. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios. Released on Signum
Duos – On Heritage, Feodor Rudin, violinist and Boris Kusneszow on piano, play Edison Denisov, Sergei Prokoviev and others. Rudin’s play is so full of fire – perhaps because he’s playing his grandfather’s music – Yes Denisov was Rudin’s grandfather!
Opera Great to discover composer Thomas Arne. Artaxerxes is a wonderful eighteenth century opera performed by The Mozartists https://signumrecords.com/product/arne-artaxerxes/SIGCD672/
Chamber Opera Margaret Catchpole: Two Worlds Apart by the late Stephen Dodgson was a real joy for me, set in seventeenth century Suffolk. A contemporary lyrical opera written by Dodgson in the 1970s. Released by Naxos
Vocals category – Soprano Olena Tokar has a great voice. On Charmes she sings 19th and 20th century female composers. https://www.orchidclassics.com/releases/orc100154-olena-tokar/
American Classical Music Loved A Clarinet in America Alexander Fiterstein plays Copland, Bernstein with English Chamber Orchestra. https://www.orchidclassics.com/releases/alexander-fiterstein/
Quartet The Four Quarters Solem Quartet on Orchid Classics https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8941268–the-four-quarters
In the Orchestral category : Iván Fischer conducting Budapest Festival Orchestra – Brahms Symphony no 3. Review https://artmuselondon.com/2021/05/19/brahms-third-symphony-a-well-kept-secret/
Also really loved listening to Kenneth Woods conduct English Symphony Orchestra on Visions of Childhood – Music of Mahler, Wagner, Humperdinck & Schubert. Richard Strauss Four Last Songs sung by April Frederick. Review: https://artmuselondon.com/2021/01/29/april-frederick-and-eso-latest-recording-impresses/
Amongst the Live Recordings Bruce Liu Winner of the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition 2021 playing the Mazurkas, Etudes and Nocturne was interesting as you felt you were there with the clapping included!Deutsche Grammophon