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Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 In Review: The Five Best Recitals

We list the five best solo performances of the year that was.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Framegrab of mezzo Joyce DiDonato at the Gowanus Ballroom.
Image © 2014 Warner Brothers Classics.
As this very strange year recedes into our memory, we're kicking off our year-end best-of on Superconductor. Stay tuned this week for more best-of posts, including the best operas and best symphony concerts of a very strange calendar year.

 It's tough out there when you're by yourself. It's also hard when you have just a pianist accompanying you. So with that in mind here are the best solo recitals (instrumental and vocal) that I saw in 2014.




Richard Goode at Carnegie Hall
"Mr. Goode played with singing, soulful tone. There was a lyric vitality throught this performance that pulled the listener along to the final Nicht schnell an achievement of peace between the two aspects of the composer's personality expressed in a serene, moving series of bass chords."

Jonas Kaufmann at Carnegie Hall
"Mr. Kaufmann saved the real heroics for the last set of the evening: three Italian-text Sonatas di Petrarca by Franz Liszt. A challenge for the singer, these passionate declarations of love require a full, operatic style and push for the two big high notes in "Pace non trovo.""

Christian Tetzlaff at the 92nd St. Y
"Throughout the cycle, his instrument's timbre rose slowly, moving from a gritty, bleak sound to a sweet, lyric tone as the music moved into sunnier territory. This led to some really lovely colors in the first Partita and second Sonata, rich amber chords that sounded crisp as a new apple."


Watch a clip of Joyce DiDonato live...in Brooklyn!

Joyce DiDonato at the Gowanus Ballroom
As she sang the final quartet, accompanied by Mr. Pérez, Mr. Nadval and mezzo Kristin Gornstein, Ms. Di Donato walked regally through the audience toward the edge of the balcony loft. Yet there was no Tosca leap, just glorious tone and regal poise.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard at Carnegie Hall.
"What made this performance special was a sense of the whole cycle being a sum of its very different parts. The monumental nature of Bach's achievement became apparent in the final B Minor Prelude and Fugue, one of the composer's most compelling creations in counterpoint."

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.