Saturday, January 28, 2012

Awards 2011 - Living composer - Instrumental

"Chinese Recorder Concertos: East Meets West"
Michala Petri; Copenhagen Philharmonic/Lan Shui
OUR Recordings

A warm welcome please to OUR Recordings, the label created 5 years ago by Danish musicians Michala Petri and Lars Hannibal. Fanfare's Raymond Tuttle says this "is, to enlist a perhaps overused word, delightful, and deserves to be brought to the attention of a broad audience". ARG's Todd Gorman tells us "This music speaks a language that communicates like little else I have heard lately". Tuttle: "If you don't believe me, try the opening work by Tang Jianping... This will go to the top of my list of musical pick-me-ups". Gorman: "Tang's piece ranks with the most interesting music I have ever heard". Tuttle: "If anyone still doubts the recorder's place as an instrument worthy of the same attention as its cousin the flute, Petri's playing here should put that to rest". Gorman: "As for Petri's playing, pick the superlatives of your choice; they should all apply". Classics Today's David Hurwitz: "This is beautiful music, often astoundingly so... an absolute joy from start to finish".

Tiensuu: Vie; Missa; False Memories I-III
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/John StorgÄrds; Kari Kriikku

"Sound the Bells! American Premieres for Brass"
The Bay Brass
Harmonia Mundi

Frank: Hilos and other works
ALIAS Chamber Ensemble; Gabriela Lena Frank

Gallagher: Orchestral music
London Symphony Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta

This is one of the least predictable of all the categories, given the sometimes haphazard coverage of contemporary music by our review sources. Aside from any editorial considerations about how much of such music to include, there's also some regional bias - American music's not so often reviewed in the British publications, or perhaps another way of saying this is that ARG and Fanfare tend to have better coverage of contemporary music. They and Classics Today reviewed all 5 of our discs here; Gramophone and IRR managed 2 each, and BBC Music Magazine did 1. And then, of course, because the music is unfamiliar, the reviewer must offer an opinion on the music more than the performances, which isn't a situation you find with, say, Beethoven - "this Fifth Symphony is quite an uninteresting work, but at least the performers seem committed...". So the unfortunate reviewer must usually start from square one as regards knowing what to think about the album at hand. One occasion where an earlier recording of the music was available possibly the most divisive album of the year: the Chandos release of Steve Reich's Desert Music and Three Movements got top marks from both BBC Music Magazine and Fanfare, but bottom marks from both Gramophone and ARG.

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