Monday, 10 Dec 2018

The best of classical music 2018: in turbulence, moments to savor

In the world of classical music, 2018 has been a year of new appointments, outdated anniversaries and #MeToo revelations. But through all the ups and downs, it's the performances that make us come back for more. Here is my list of the top 10; what is your?

1. The Verdi Requiem

This deserted, passionate, uneven island raging against death deserves to be at the top of the list. But this year, not one, but two performances of DC have been on my list of the best of a lifetime. Gianandrea Noseda's readings with the National Symphony Orchestra and the combined forces of the Choral Arts Society and Washington Chorus did not correspond to anything I expected of him: graceful and supple, supple and eloquent. And the diminutive In Series opened its first season under the direction of a new art director, Tim Nelson, with his daring dramatization, which juxtaposes a Requiem to eight singers with excerpts from "King Lear." how intrinsically dramatic this music is, but also how powerful it can be in robbing the masses of great ensembles who usually play it and expose its vulnerability – and its humanity.

2. "Hamilton"

Call it a musical, call it opera – I call it super. I was happy to join the group of fans who got to know this album more or less by heart, then slipped to the Kennedy Center to attend the long-awaited summer race of the series and saluted his victory at the Kennedy Center Honor in December.

The cast of Missy Mazzoli in Proving Up, a production of the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. (SCOTT SUCHMAN)

3. Missy Mazzoli

In a year in which the field finally seemed to wake up to the historical neglect of composers, and initiatives such as The Composer Diversity database seemed to be changing things. Missy Mazzoli, 38, continued to rise as one of the most prominent voices in the field. Her latest opera, "Proving Up," premiered at the Washington National Opera in January, and she was named Composer-in-Residence of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for a two-year term beginning in July.

4. Julia Bullock

This luminous soprano combines book intelligence and artistic intelligence in programs that stimulate the ear and mind, offering perspectives on femininity, race and beautiful song. I loved his appearance in 2014; I liked her no less at her National Gallery recital in May, and I only wanted to be able to go to New York for each of her performances as an artist-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I've had a lot of critical things to say about the presentation of this festival, produced by Washington Performing Arts and the Kennedy Center for the second year in a row. But the four orchestras presented, including smaller ones such as the Fort Worth Symphony and the Albany Symphony, offer a vitality and range that fully justify the exercise. The organizers have every interest in taking a year off and thinking more about how to let the public know what it will do before the next edition of SHIFT in 2020.

6. Battle of Mitsuko Uchida / Kathleen

We talk a lot about new artists and initiatives, but the stars sometimes show that they are stars for a reason. Mitsuko Uchida gave a radiant and memorable reading of Schubert, and Kathleen Battle put high notes in silver, silver and silver still at the center of a magnificent spiritual program.

7. Bach

Violinist Hilary Hahn and cellist Yo-Yo Ma both revisited the composer who played such an important role in their respective careers during Washington Performing Arts recitals.

8. Praise of youth

This summer, tenor Ian Koziara will play the lead role "Idomeneo" at Wolf Trap Opera and embody excellence and true art among the many talented artists who put sweat and heart into programs for young artists. from the country. This is partly due to the incredible dedication of people such as Kim Pensinger Witman, who has kept the Wolf Trap Opera at the top of training programs for many years and has announced this year his retirement.

9. "The Barber of Seville"

The post did not cover the "Barber of Seville" at the Washington National Opera this year, but judging by the glowing descriptions contained in the very many responses we received about our lack cover, this was not only the biggest opera event of the year, but also perhaps the biggest production of "Barber".

10. Wu Man

Pipa player Wu Man has made considerable efforts to raise the profile of her instrument (a traditional Chinese instrument) and expand her repertoire. This year, she left an imprint on Washington with two important concerts. One of them featured a family troupe of musicians-puppeteers from northern China, now in its 11th generation, a tradition unknown to most viewers. The other, "A Chinese Home", was a multi-media, multi-genre exploration of Chinese tradition with the Kronos Quartet.


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