And I used to think our annual "Records To Die For" issue was difficult. Whew! When it came down to choosing the 40 most influential rock/pop, jazz, and classical records of the past 40 years, during which this magazine has been the most honest and enjoyable source of high-end audio journalism, my initial list contained more than 200 choices. A painful paring-down process ensued, with input from every member of the Stereophile staff.
TRIO MEDIAEVAL: Words of The Angel Anonymous: Messe de Tournai. Moody: Words of The Angel. Misc. 13th-century monophonic and 14th-century polyphonic works. Trio Mediaeval: Anna Maria Friman, Linn Andrea Fuglseth, Torunn Østrem Ossum, sopranos ECM 1753 (CD). 2001. John Potter, prod.; Peter Laenger, eng. DDD. TT: 65:45 Performance ***** Sonics *****
Mozart: Piano Music
Sonata in a, K.310; March in C, K.408; Courante in E-flat, K.399; Gigue in G, K.574; Rondo in a, K.511; Sonata in F, K.533/494
Richard Goode, piano
Nonesuch 79831-2 (CD). 2005. Max Wilcox, prod., eng. DDD. TT: 59:32
MOZART: Piano Concertos 22 & 25
David Fray, piano; Jaap van Zweden, Philharmonia Orchestra
Virgin 5099964196404 (CD). 2010. Etienne Collard, prod.; René Möller, eng. DDD. TT: 66:04
From 1782 to the end of 1785 were successful, fertile years in Vienna for Mozart. He was sought by the aristocracy and the upper classes as a pianist, teacher, and composer. Throughout this periodand the following year, during which he ran out of moneyhe composed piano sonatas, songs, marches, wind serenades, a horn quintet, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, arias, quartets, works for violin and/or viola, horn concertos, the C-minor Mass, symphonies 35, 36, and 38 (37 was written by Michael Haydn), piano concertos 1425, Le Nozze di Figaro, and dozens of other works.
SCHOENBERG: Gurrelieder Karita Mattila, soprano; Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano; Thomas Moser, Philip Langridge, tenors; Thomas Quasthoff, bass-baritone, speaker; Gentlemen of the Ernst Senff Choir, Berlin Radio Chorus, Leipzig Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk Chorus; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Simon Rattle EMI 5 57303 2 (2 CDs). 2002. Stephen Johns, prod.; Graham Kirkby, Andy Beer, Mike Cox, engs. DDD. TT: 110:14 Performance **** Sonics ****
BEETHOVEN Piano Concertos 1 & 4
Lang Lang, piano; Christoph Eschenbach, Orchestre de Paris
Deutsche Grammophon B0008725-02 (CD). 2007. Arend Prohmann, prod.; Jrgen Bulgrin, eng. DDD. TT: 74:30
Anita Johnson, soprano; AnnMarie Sandy, mezzo-soprano; Chauncey Packer, Robert Mack, tenors; Edward Pleasant, high baritone; Darren Stokes, Frank Ward Jr., basses; others; Paragon Ragtime Orchestra and Singers, Rick Benjamin
New World 80720-2 (2 CDs). 2012. Judith Sherman, prod., eng. DDD. TT: 99:06
The great ragtime composer Scott Joplin had grander ambitions than just the magnificent miniatures for piano he's famous for. When he died, in 1917, he had spent much of the previous 10 years polishing and campaigning for his full-length opera, Treemonisha, the piano-vocal score for which he had published in 1911. Joplin had studied classical composition and notation with a German scholar who had happened to settle in his hometown of Texarkana, Arkansas; lore has it that Julius Weiss gave young Joplin lessons in exchange for Mrs. Joplin's services as a laundress. Treemonisha is through-composed, with sophisticated harmonies clearly influenced by European teachings, but it also incorporates early-jazz beats, proto-blues sounds, odd syncopations, occasional Victorian-type ballads, African-American folk and pop music, and moments that recall field hollers and revival meetingsin short, all of the music of the Black experience in America is represented.
TARIK O'REGAN: Threshold of Night Had I Not Seen the Sun, The Ecstasies Above, Threshold of Night, Tal Vez Tenemos Tiempo, Care Charminge Sleepe, Triptych, I Had No Time to Hate
Conspirare Company of Voices, Company of Strings; Craig Hella Johnson, conductor
Harmonia Mundi HMU 807490 (SACD/CD). 2008. Robina G. Young, prod.; John Newton, eng. DDD. TT: 59:31