Holiday Gift Guide, Part 1: Music

Posted in marketplace (goods & services), reviews by Editor on December 5, 2011

Wondering what to get the dix-huitièmiste in your life for the holidays? This year at Enfilade, we’re here to help with our first (annual?) gift guide. Before the week is over, we’ll cover food, drink, travel, and some lovely finds from museum gift shops. From the accessible to the purely aspirational, you’ll at least get a wide variety of ideas. And the postings provide a fine chance to consider some of the things the past year has brought to the marketplace. Michael Yonan brilliantly kicks off the series with his top music picks. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments sections, and enjoy! -CH

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By Michael Yonan

The classical music recording industry, we are told, is dying, but you’d never know that when looking at new releases of eighteenth-century music. There were so many new recordings issued this year that even an avid music lover couldn’t possibly keep up with them. In the realm of opera alone, 2011 saw new releases of Handel’s Agrippina, Ariodante, and Alessandro Severo; Vivaldi’s Ottone in Villa, Il Farnace, and Teuzzone; Telemann’s Germanicus, and even José de Nebra’s Spanish-language Iphigenia en Tracia, first performed in Madrid in 1747.  These appeared alongside literally dozens of new instrumental music recordings. The following is, therefore, a highly personal list that reflects my fancies and predilections, but all are also critically acclaimed recordings and easy to acquire.

1. François-André-Danican Philidor, Sancho Pança (Naxos) This is an opéra comique first performed at Fontainebleau in 1762, realized by Opera Lafayette, a period-instruments group based in Washington, D.C. The story is based on Cervantes’s novel, but only loosely: here Sancho Panza is the governor of an imaginary island and suffers from delusions of grandeur not unlike those of his onetime master.

2. Gluck, Ezio (Virgin Classics) The 1750 version of Gluck’s opera, first performed in Prague in 1750. An international cast and liner notes by ASECS regular Bruce Alan Brown!

3. Johann Sebastian Bach, Cantatas BWV 82, “Ich habe genug,” and BWV 169, “Gott soll allein mein Herze haben,” Andreas Scholl, countertenor, and the
Kammerorchester Basel (Decca)
Could this be the most
beautiful countertenor voice in the world? I think so.

4. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Sei concerti per il cembalo concertato, Wq43 (Harmonia Mundi) With Andreas Staier, harpsichord, and Petra Müllejans conducting the superb Freiburg Baroque Orchestra.

5. Handel, Amor Oriental: Händel alla Turca (Dhm) For something completely different, an interesting attempt to program works by Handel with performances by a traditional Turkish sufti singer.

6. Handel, Streams of Pleasure, Karina Gauvin and Marie-Nicole Lemieux, with Il Complesso Barocco conducted by Alan Curtis (Naïve Classique) My top recommendation. Two extremely gifted French Canadian singers
with beautiful voices—Gauvin is a coloratura soprano, Lemieux a
true contralto—performing arias and duets from Handel’s English-
language oratorios.

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Michael Yonan is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Missouri-Columbia. His book, Empress Maria Theresa and the Politics of Habsburg Imperial Art, appeared earlier this year from Penn State University Press (and would itself make for a lovely gift!).

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