Fanfare classical music meta-list, and my favorite classical music of the year

Fanfare is the best outlet for classic music reviews I know, and each year I avidly scour the critics’ Want Lists.  These are the items that showed up more than once:

Kyle Gann, Hyperchromatica, “…an extended set of movements…scores for three retuned mechanics pianos…The music draws together every facet of Gann’s style and life-long musical interests: rhythmic complexity, microtonality, extended “tonal” harmonies and voice leading, post-Minimalist surfaces, and more.  The result is a tremendous mix of sheer enjoyment coupled with extremely sophisticated compositional craft.” (Carson Cooman).

Hector Berlioz, Les Troyens, conducted by John Nelson.

Murray Perahia, Beethoven, Hammerklavier Sonata/Moonlight Sonata.

John Adams, Doctor Atomic, 2018 recording.

While I can recommend those strongly (I haven’t heard the Adams yet, but didn’t like the earlier recording), my own recommendations would be:

Bach, Violin Sonatas and Partitas, get both the latest Christian Tetzlaff recording and Ning Feng, and:

Paul Lewis, Joseph Haydn, Piano Sonatas 32, 40, 49, 50.


I don't listen to music so I'm no qualified to comment. At one point I had a 12 CD collection of classical greats, from the early 1990s, so the music was arguably tinny sounding (did they oversample back then?) Since then, I found a YouTube collection of classical music that I listened to, so I could identify the artists when I heard their tunes, but it was sadly deleted due to a copyright complaint.

It was probably tinny because you bought a bargain-bin CD collection that featured inferior recordings.

CDs are, theoretically, not as good quality as modern streaming formats, but the difference is exceedingly unlikely to be noticeable. (A lot of audio aficionados will claim otherwise, I'm sure. Show me the blinded test results that support your position, please!).

'CDs are, theoretically, not as good quality as modern streaming formats'

That theoretically is doing an amazing amount of work there.

Kyle Gann - Hyperchromatica: listening to it for the 1st time. sometimes is so close to metal that I like it =)

I have Nathan Milstein's Bach solo violin recording and see no reason to add any other. His traversal of these pieces is epic.

Which one? The set he recorded for EMI in the 1950s or the one he recorded for Deutsche Grammophon in the 1960s?

Deutsche Gramaphone

The EMI is a superior performance. Sounds like you have at least one reason to add another to your collection.

Haydn's piano concertos? Ekaterina Derzhavina has recorded the complete Haydn piano concertos - and they're unbelievable. (Her Goldberg Variations also shiver the timbers.) This marvelously deft pianist is barely known in the U.S., so there may be some status value in being aware of her.

If we allow ourselves the level of composer and work mentioned here --- not just the best pieces by the greatest maestros --- then there are easily ~10,000 pieces out there. We are enjoined to buy several recordings of each piece, say ≥2 on average. And obviously you can't appreciate a recording if you don't listen to it at least 3 times. If the average length of a piece is 30min, that's thirty thousand hours.

At an hour of listening per day, every single day, that's 82 years --- higher than American life expectancy.

So one has to wonder: are Tyler's musical recommendation about recommending music to listen to?

Not everyone is a completionist.

When I say I enjoyed a wine, I'm not endorsing the whole production of the winemaker. I enjoy my wine while having the certitude I'll never going to try all of them.

As children we are tricked into believing scarcity is a problem. Limited number of movies, limited amount of candy, or limited editions of comics, but no, for most of things you need several lifetimes to experience it: travel, food, meeting people........oh, 7+ one has to wonder, when someone recommends to "meet new people", is the recommendation about meeting new people?

Yes, for most things you need several lifetimes to experience it, so why would anyone ever heed this advice:

> Bach, Violin Sonatas and Partitas, get both the latest
> Christian Tetzlaff recording and Ning Feng

Why would I choose 20 recordings of the same piece when there is so much out there?

> When I say I enjoyed a wine, I'm not endorsing the
> whole production of the winemaker.

If you said, "get Vineyard Inc wines B and C, make sure to get years 2006 and 2007", you would be endorsing a level of wine consumption that is unrealistic.

> is the recommendation about meeting new people?

In your analogy you neglect a crucial fact about classical music recommendations, which is that one looks smart and cultured by making them.

If you believe anything you just wrote, then I submit that you are missing the point of why people listen to music in the first place, or simply that you listen to music for the wrong reasons.

The paradox of individualism.

It's really a great topic for motivational speeches, explains our success, a very cool idea, until someone starts acting on their own.......stop being an individual, yield to the collective taste!!!

This was intended as a reply to James, not as a comment on Tyler's post. I don't like all of his recommendations, but if he liked everything I like I'd probably find him boring.

You should give the new Igor Levit a listen if you haven't already done so. It's eclectic, brainy, and occasionally profound:

Some others that I enjoyed and would recommend:

* Star of Heaven, by the UK choir group The Sixteen, which is a lovely collection of 15th century English sacred music (
* The JACK Quartet's recording of John Luther Adams's Everything That Rises is an excellent recording of yet another piece by one of America's best composers (

* Yannick Nézet-Séguin's live recording of the Bernstein Mass with The Philadelphia Orchestra is a beautiful take on a piece most only know through the composer’s own recording (

I don't think the Adams 'Doctor Atomic' has been recorded complete before, unless you mean the met broadcast.

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