Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Magnificent Ten for 2017

2017 has been a good year for up-and-coming and new on the horizon artists (newish on my horizon, at least). I've picked ten artists for my vintage 2017, eschewing the old favourites such as Klemperer, Furtwängler, Kreisler, Heifetz, etc. where it goes without saying. As usual, order is random, since picking “1st” and “10th” in such a varied list is meaningless.

Nazrin Rashidova impressed me greatly for her violin playing in seven études-caprices of Emile Sauret. She also shows a healthy desire to escape the standard, rubber-stamped repertoire, with recordings devoted to the music of Moritz Moszkowski, and Leopold Godowsky, as well as the Sauret.

Vasily Petrenko is becoming a really first-rate conductor in his chosen repertoire. Following on from his remarkable Shostakovich symphonies came the two symphonies of Edward Elgar, superbly conducted, and played by the Liverpool Philharmonic.

Carolyn Sampson is hardly up-and-coming, but she produced a first-rate CD of songs to poems by Paul Verlaine, as well as a CD of Bach cantatas for soprano. Both three stars.

Beatrice Rana shot into my little world with her performance of Bach's Goldberg Variations. She has played other things — extremely well — but it is her Goldbergs that shoot her to fame in my eyes.

Boris Giltburg was a pretty new name for me. His Rachmaninov and Shostakovich recordings went straight to the top of the pile (though I responded less enthusiastically to his Beethoven).

Arabella Steinbacher is hardly up-and-coming, but she added to her attractive list of recordings with a first-class performance of the violin concerto of Benjamin Britten, highly competitive in what is now a somewhat crowded field of recordings of this work.

The Tetzlaff Quartett released a performance of Schubert's last string quartet that was truly remarkable. The CD also contains a superb Haydn quartet (Opus 20 No.3).

Arcadi Volodos released a CD of Brahms solo piano music that enthralled even me, normally no fan of Brahms' piano music.

Khatia Buniatishvili wowed me with my favourite performance of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. She can be a variable performer, but here she sounds completely in her element.

Maria João Pires is hardly up-and-coming; she was born 23rd July 1944, exactly three years after me. But the performances of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert played by her that I listened to throughout the year mean she has to have a place in this subjective list of remarkable artists for 2017.

Record company of the year has to be Naxos for its stream of remarkable violinists, year after year.

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