2019 was not the year to obsess over new releases. It’s actually the first year I’ve managed anything resembling a healthy balance of new and old: more repeat listening, more old and obscure things, and (much) more radio (shouts to RBB Kulturradio). It was a charmed twelve months.
In that spirit I’m sharing with you only a few new things I enjoyed in 2019. Click album titles for more info.
Quality classical releases
Kullervo Op. 7, Jean Sibelius, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hannu Lintu. A work unknown to me. This and Sibelius’ Pelléas et Mélisande were the soundtrack for many of my fall mornings.
Fidicinium Sacro-Profanum, Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, Harmonie Universelle, Florian Deuter, Monica Waisman. I thought I misread HIFvB’s birth and death dates the first time I looked him up. His is music immune to the vagaries of time and taste.
Weinberg: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 21, Mieczysław Weinberg, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Gidon Kremer, Kremerata Baltica, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Mieczysław Weinberg’s family was torn apart by war and ethnic killing in his native Poland and neighboring Russia. (I’m reading Bloodlands right now — can’t imagine a better soundtrack than this.) Weinberg was a close associate of Shostakovich’s. His music might not be as well-known as the latter’s, but this disc rectifies this somewhat. Gražinytė-Tyla, the CBSO, and Weinberg aficionado Gidon Kremer worked magic with this one.
Sneaky projects you might’ve missed
Al Otro Lado, Liza Wallace, Lily Press, Simon Linn-Gerstein. Recommended this in the last mailer. Did you listen yet? Support good music.
The Sacrificial Code, Kali Malone. Kali Malone is a Swedish organist who finds a different gear for the pipe organ — in slow, meditative, drawn-out tones that echo across this work. It’s not clear who the audience for this is, which is to say that it’s perfect for CDA readers.
These live up to the hype
Become Desert, John Luther Adams, Seattle Symphony. The logical follow-up to JLA’s smash and CDA favorite Become Ocean.
Concurrence, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Daníel Bjarnason, Anna Thorvaldsdóttir, Haukur Tómasson, María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, Páll Ragnar Pálsson. Iceland : modern orchestra music :: Atlanta : trap music. I’ve written about my undisguised admiration for Anna Thorvaldsdóttir. Here you get Thorvaldsdóttir’s Metacosmos, plus installments of tingly, dense, well-matched music from three fellow Icelanders.
At the risk of oversharing and bungling this whole premise, here’s some non-classical music that blew me out of my seat
Morbid Stuff by PUP. Hidden History of the Human Race by Blood Incantation. Did I say I wasn’t going to do a big list? Megan Thee Stallion’s Fever. Don’t miss Midnight by Stef Chura. Rema’s self-titled EP goes and goes. I especially recommend Mahur Club by Maral. Cut & Stitch by the Petrol Girls is an AOTY contender. Control Top just batter listeners on Covert Contracts. Ahh damn it I’m still listing. I can’t physically stop myself from making lists. WWCD by Griselda. Jaime by Brittany Howard (“Short and Sweet” slayed me). Okay, done.
Many of the above are affiliate links, i.e. a fraction of the sale benefits probably your twenty-third-favorite classical music outfit. Just deal with it.
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