Think of this more as a lazy reminder of things I wrote this year, rather than some kind of apotheosis of year-end greatness. It's me wanting to write a blog post but not really in the mood to say anything new or enlightening.
1. musikFabrik: Easily the most underrated new music ensemble in existence. They turned many of the best concerts I saw into events, not only mastering insanely-complicated music but then playing it while doing some crazy, crazy choreography. See: Rebecca Saunders' Chroma and Poppe/Heiniger's Tiere sitzen nicht at MaerzMusik; Stockhausen's Sonntag in Cologne; an awesome Musikfest concert (technically 2010). Take a glance at their 2012 schedule: all the music you want to hear in New York but never do (Jakob Lenz! new G.F. Haas!).
Somebody needs to bring them to America, asap.
2. Toshio Hosokawa's Matsukaze. I'm just going to go ahead and say that I think this is probably the best opera I've ever seen. I am hopelessly addicted to the unofficial recording I was lucky enough to obtain; the score is a dreamworld of fascinating, beautiful complexity; and Sasha Waltz's gorgeous choreography along with Barbara Hannigan's singing just sealed the deal. Needs to come to the U.S. (Lincoln Center Presents, I'm looking at you).
3. The Berlin Philharmonic. Kind of goes without saying. The best was, as expected, Simon Rattle's Mahler -- particularly the Second and Third, but the Second actually took place last fall so doesn't really fall into this year's best-of. I also recently took in a great concert led by Pablo Heras-Casado in the Digital Concert Hall.
4. Worms' Nibelungen Museum -- totally awesome, well worth a trip if you're trekking across the country.
5. The MaerzMusik festival. I have particularly fond memories of Justė Janulytė’s Sandglasses, Chroma, and Michael Vorfeld's Light Bulb Music
6. Lucia Ronchetti's haunting re-composition of Cavalli's Giasone: another transcendent Gesamtkunstwerk experience, this time on a small scale.
7. Anna Prohaska's breathes the air of another world, in Schoenberg's Second String Quartet: a major talent on the rise.
8. The Hamburger Bahnhof got run over by some reindeer: my numerous visits to Carsten Höller's Soma
That's all, folks. See you in 2012, the year classical music dies.
How classical music became a pseudo-event
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