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Music for Writers (and everyone else)
Vivaldi, The Four Seasons: The English Concert, Simon Standage, violin, Trevor Pinnock, conductor and harpsichord. (This is not the same recording as an earlier release on record, which used chamber organ in several movements.) Alas, my favorite recording by The Harp Consort and the Freiburger Barockorchester; however, before that, this was my favorite. It is great for both an early music performance and simply as darn good music.
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Sinfonias: Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. In 1967, when I first met Fred Sommer, he said he would play the greatest piece of music written (years later, Pachelbel's Cannon in D was often billed as the greatest). I was 18 and I thought I knew bs when I heard it, but Fred persisted and put an old recording of Friedemann's Sinfonia in d-moll on his record player. One might argue whether it is the greatest or not, but at the least it is a strong contender.
Johann Sebastian Bach: The Sonatas for Flute and Fortepiano, Susan Rotholz and Kenneth Cooper. Some have found fault with using a fortepiano (by Jacob Kaeser after Anton Walter, 1785) to accompany a modern flute and not a Baroque flute—would they have faulted Robert Veyron-Lacroix's harpsichord with Rampal's flute?— the performances are stunning! The flute may be modern, but the performance is very much what one would expect along the lines of J.J. Quantz.
Johann Sebastian Bach: A State of Wonder: The Goldberg Variations. Glenn Gould, 1955, 1981. Could any performer span such differences and yet remain true to himself—or true to Bach? Breathtaking.
Johann Sebastian Bach: The Goldberg Variations, Murray Perahia. If your preference is more romantic, then Perahia's performance sets the bar. With both Parahia and Gould, I forget to miss the harpsichord.
Heinrich Ignaz Frantz von Biber: Violin Sonatas, Romanesca with Andrew Manze. I am biased, but I can't image that even Biber played these better than Manze. Stunning.
Heinrich Ignaz Frantz von Biber: Harmonia artificiosa, Musica Antiqua Köln. Well, stunning.
New American Soloists, Cleveland Chamber Symphony. A very good collection of contemporary chamber music. For me, the piece that is worth the CD—and more—is Jeffrey Jacob's Persistence of Memory, Jeffrey Jacob, piano.
Yo Yo Ma, Soul of the Tango: The Music of Astor Piazzolla. Yo Yo Ma has ventured into a repertoire that is far from standard. Some of his adventures work, some not. This is truly a success.
Philip Glass: The Photographer. It's not just that this is about the interesting and curious Eadweard Muybridge, but it's exciting and inventive.
Daniel Lanois: Acadie. Aside from being a remarkable producer, this self-produced debut album is an evocative blend that flirts with his Québécois heritage and his adopted Arcadian/Cajun home in New Orleans.
The Siena Pianoforte, Charles Rosen and Kathryn Dequire performers. Billed as the missing link between the harpsichord and the piano, the Siena Pianoforte is remarkable instrument. Music by Scarlatti and Mozart. From the 1955 and 1956 recordings.
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