Monday, 22 December 2008

Performances of the Year 2008

This is the first full year in which I have been reviewing concert and opera performances for my blog. Many, though by no means all, of those performances I also reviewed for Seen and Heard. Last week, my editor asked me to select three reviews as S&H Performances of the Year; they should be posted early in the New Year. It was no easy task selecting just three, although there was a sense in which the performances nevertheless selected themselves. I attended more performances than those reviewed there and posted something on every one of them here. Not only because there are more from which to choose but also in order to point to a wider field of achievement, I have chosen twelve performances of the year. This selection of twelve still leaves a good number unmentioned; when making distinctions between performances, one can all too readily forget just how high the general standard of professional music-making is. Anyway, here are the final twelve, in no order other than the chronological, each with a link to its review:

Piano sonatas by Beethoven. Daniel Barenboim, 17 February 2008. (I could readily have chosen all three of the Barenboim Beethoven recitals I attended; they are all reviewed here.)
Nash Inventions: works by Turnage, Birtwistle, MacMillan, Goehr, and Colin Matthews. Nash Ensemble, 12 March 2008.
Gluck: Iphigénie en Tauride. Komische Oper, Berlin, Paul Goodwin/Barrie Kosky, 21 March 2008.
Works by Bach, Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern. Scharoun Ensemble/Pierre Boulez, 18 April 2008.
Works for piano duet/duo: Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, Stravinsky, and Debussy. Richard Goode and Jonathan Biss, 31 May 2008.
Alfred Brendel’s final London piano recital: works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, 27 June 2008.
Henze: The Bassarids. Munich Opera Festival, Marc Albrecht/Christof Loy, 19 July 2008.
Songs by Schubert, Britten, and Strauss. Jonas Kaufmann, Helmut Deutsch, 22 July 2008.
Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos. Munich Opera Festival, Kent Nagano/Robert Carsen, 24 July 2008.
Wagner: Parsifal. Bayreuth Festival, Daniele Gatti/Stefan Herheim, 6 August 2008.
Works by Messiaen, Harvey, and Varèse. BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Ilan Volkov, 19 August 2008.
Szymanowski: King Roger. Mariinsky Opera, Valery Gergiev/Mariusz Treliński, 27 August 2008.