Yesterday I did my Top of 2016 released this year, so now for my top purchases of 2016 of records that were released in previous years...
The most exciting composer discovery of the year for me was American born, Ingram Marshall. I've read his style described as ambient, post-minimalism, and Wikipedia states the composer uses the term "expressivist" to describe his music
. Marshall beautifully blends acoustic instruments with electronic sounds, even incorporating tape and mixed media into his works. Whatever the instrumentation, Marshal's music is always completely free of being tied down to a particular form or genre, and handles this freedom in a dreamlike soundscape. This year I purchased four albums containing Marshall's music, but chose to focus on the two posted here. The works I've returned to the most are September Canons
for a solo violin, Peaceable Kingdom
for a small ensemble, and Gradual Requiem
for voices, mandolin, flute and synthesizer. These three pieces can be found on these two album, but many other albums of Marshall's music is available, and worth listening to.
My favorite discovery this year was purchasing this 2-disc set of Bernstein and the NYP performing Sibelius symphonies. I own Bernstein's later recordings of Sibelius with the VPO, and have heard the earlier 2nd with NYP, but never any of the other earlier recordings. My passion for this purchase really comes with the performance of Sibelius' 4th symphony. It's the Sibelius symphony that took me the longest to grasp, and appreciate, and I finally figured out why. Because everyone else was playing it wrong! Alright, that's entirely subjective, I know, but it's true for me. Let's take the finale's closing minutes for example, for years I've always loved the dark turn the piece takes before bowing out, but the recordings I've heard seem to always rush through this. The movement is scored Allegro and Sibelius doesn't notate a tempo change near the end, so technically most are performing under the composer's wishes. However, Bernstein and NYP take their sweet time and allow the listener to slowly drown into the darkness, almost like a Bruckner Adagio
. I really enjoyed the entire performance, and it's the first time I ever got chills while listening to this symphony. Similar to Harnoncourt's Beethoven disc I mentioned yesterday, I know Bernstein's Sibelius is not universally appreciated, but it was his take on the 4th, and the jarringly beautiful rendition that grabbed my attention.
Here are my other top purchases of 2016, featuring Wagner, Strauss, Schnittke and Haydn performed by Klemperer, Jurowski, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Henschel Quartet and Susanne Kelling. And I know this will amount to 6 discs, but who cares, right?