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12.27.17 Jac's Top 30 of 2017 10.20.17 Classical in 2017
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Classical in 2017

First time I've made a proper list detailing my classical picks so here's a nice round 20 albums I've sampled, one bad, one meh, most good/great, some incredible. Enjoy.
20Ives Ensemble
Laurence Crane: 6 Trios, 2 Solos and 1 Quintet

Post-Minimalism - I expected waaaaaay more from Ives given what I've heard of their Feldman renditions, but I was bored from about 15 minutes in right 'til the end here. Maybe it was Crane's vision or something but the pieces just plod along while the musicians do absolutely nothing interesting timbre-wise.

19Max Richter
Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works

"Modern Classical" - I went in expecting sappy melodrama but not in such a cliche, meandering way. Still nice to listen to.

18Hesperion XXI / La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Henricus Isaac: Nell tempo di Lorenzo ...

Renaissance Music - I'm a sucker ye ol' time-y Renaissance stuff so I enjoyed this purely for the aesthetics, even if it veered into almost-Christmas carol territory at times.

17Emerson String Quartet
Music of Britten and Purcel

Chamber Music - The tense, uniform performances and track arrangement help these otherwise contrasting pieces feel like a cohesive body of work, even if the compositions themselves aren't exactly my cup of tea.

16Keiko Murakami
Atem Lied: Works for Bass Flute

Modern Classical - Really interesting pieces that are focused more on exploration of texture than any kind of narrative arc, at least from what I can tell.

15Rafal Blechacz
Johann Sebastian Bach

Baroque Music - Title is pretty self-explanatory - a collection of Bach's keyboard works. performance is vibrant, sound is crisp; worth hearing for anyone who's a fan of all things Bach.

14Juliet Fraser
Morton Feldman: Three Voices

Modern Classical - I can imagine this annoying quite a few people while entrancing others. At times repetitive and sonically bare-bones, but somehow quite hypnotic.

13Konus Quartett / Apartment House
Chiyoko Szlavnics: During a Lifetime

Modern Classical - First piece is a drone-y amalgamation of sine waves that feel surprisingly organic and are actually super pleasant to listen to. Second almost feels like the lines from the first transposed for strings while the third melds the two together along with a cache of wind and brass instruments.

No spotify link, rip
12Quatuor Voce
Lettres intimes: Bartok / Schulhoff / Janacek

Modern Classical - Worth hearing for the Bartok renditions alone, even if they aren't really a patch on those by Takacs, but very little is. I wasn't familiar with the other two composers but I'm quite glad I persisted.

11JACK Quartet
Marc Sabat: Harmony

Modern Classical - A bunch of microtonal fidgeting that isn't consumed by austerity like so much music of this ilk. Lives up to its title by exploring unconventional harmonic relationships and actually attempting to build on them in an affecting way.

No spotify link, rip
10Musica Secreta / Celestial Sirens
Lucrezia Borgia's Daughter

Renaissance Music - Enchanting vocal arrangements backed by strings and an organ. From what I gather, nobody is entirely sure who composed these pieces, perhaps due to the perception of aspirant women at the time they were published, but I'm glad they were.

9Orchestre des Champs-Elysees / Collegium Vocale Gent
Symphony No. 4; Alt-Rhapsodie; Schicksalslied

Romanticism - The spotless recording of Brahms' 4th is the main attraction here, shirking the bombast I tend to associate with the romantic era. The other two pieces aren't half bad either.

8Brecon Baroque
Grandissima Gravita

Baroque Music - Tartini's 5th violin sonata is captivating and at times heart breaking, and violinist Rachel Podger is a master of imbuing every note with palpable emotion. The album's a little front heavy due to Tartini's work being the strongest by quite a margin, but absolutely worth listening to multiple times.

7London Philharmonic Orchestra
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto; Lalo: Symphony

Romanticism - Due to Lalo's influence on Tchaikovsky being quite apparent, the transition from the one composer's work to the other goes over very well, stylistically. Wasn't expecting to love this but alas.

6Rossella Spinosa
Scelsi: Opere per pianoforte

Modern Classical - Much as I love Scelsi I always seemed to neglect his piano works. Staggers about for a couple minutes but the second that low-F dropped I was hooked from start to finish.

5Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Tüür: Peregrinus ecstaticus; Noēsis; Le poids ...

Modern Classical - Stylistically outlandish but still full of substance. Not entirely sure how to describe it beyond that.

4Jean Rondeau
Dynastie: Bach Concertos

Baroque Music - Very ornate sound, which may turn some people off but as I'm a sucker for big, spacious soundscapes this is right up my alley. It's difficult to go wrong with any Bach, really, and it's quite interesting to hear his style being emulated and altered to fit with early Classical-period trends by his youngest son.

3Silesian String Quartet
Weinberg: String Quartet No. 7 + Piano Quintet

Modern Classical - The Silesian Quartet seem to have a penchant for batshit insane, so it's refreshing to hear them render these compositions with tact and restraint. The interplay between the quartet and Piotr Salajczyk's piano playing is surprisingly delicate and they seem to have a great chemistry, knowing when and where best to allow one another to take center stage, so to speak.

2Stile Antico
Giaches de Wert: Divine Theatre

Renaissance Music / Choral - Considering how much I love this I have very little, if anything to say about it. Probably the most cathartic thing I've heard from this year.

1Arditti Quartet / Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France
Pascal Dusapin: Quatuor VI; Quatuor VII

Modern Classical - The first movement was so intensely disorienting I wasn't sure I'd be able to make it through an entire album of it. Mercifully, the intensity is dialed back for the vast majority of the album's remainder, but the maniacal vibe is still omnipresent from start to finish. No need to tell you the performances are out of this world as everything Arditti touches turns to gold. Possible AOTY.

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