In the December 12 issue of New York magazine, critic Justin Davidson looks back at his top-ten New York classical music programs of 2011. First on the list is the New York Philharmonic’s presentation of The Cunning Little Vixen. “The Philharmonic has never seemed cheerier than it did performing Janácek’s charmer of an opera—and not just because of the kids in frog costumes or even because Isabel Bayrakdarian sang such a beguiling fox. In this sublime silliness, the orchestra rediscovered its mission: making live music that’s necessary and irreproducible.” At number two, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s concert version of Otello: “The high priest of the podium, Riccardo Muti, led the Chicago Symphony in a Carnegie Hall performance of Verdi’s opera so overpoweringly nuanced that the singers hardly mattered. Muti made opera without sets and costumes seem less compromise than Platonic ideal.” At number 5, “The Brooklyn Philharmonic, priced out of BAM, made for Brighton Beach, where it catered to a bemused Russian audience’s nostalgia for Soviet cartoons and their startlingly sophisticated scores. The shaggy, spirited performance, run by Alan Pierson, showed that a fine orchestra can come down off the acropolis without losing its soul.” Gubaidulina’s Tempus Praesens, Adès’s Concentric Paths (performed by the St. Louis Symphony), Huelgas Ensemble, John Luther Adams’s Inuksuit, Des McAnuff’s Faust, Dan Deacon and So Percussion, and the Schubert Trios at Lincoln Center round out the list.
Posted December 6, 2011