RECAPITULATION: Top 10 List - Best of 2018

2018 was a big year for classical music in New York. A veritable who’s who of the world’s top performers graced our stages. Repertoire spanning the centuries was buttressed by a healthy supply of fresh, new work. Here is my contribution to the year’s end cornucopia of “Ten Best” lists, my ten favorite classical music moments in a year full of exciting concert-going.

REVIEW: Apollo's Fire Spreads Christmas Joy on Sugarloaf Mountain

Jeannette Sorrell's reminder that migrants, so much a part of the news in our current zeitgeist, are an integral part of the Christmas story -- and an integral part of what America is about, and where our traditions come from -- is given heartwarming affirmation in this inventive, moving event. The music, so brilliantly brought to life in this transcendent display of technical skill and subtle artistry, is like the sounds of our neighbors and, maybe, our ancestors, echoing from one end of the mountain valley to another. The audience, uplifted, seems to exit the hall inspired to be kinder, more mindful, and to embrace the true spirit of the holiday. What a gift.

REVIEW: CMS's Baroque Collection Transports to Another Time

Presented at Alice Tully Hall, CMS's Baroque Collection combines a museum-worthy curation of pieces representing some of the variety in the music of the time, the variety of musical forms, performance settings (sacred versus secular), and the increasing technical implications of the instruments for which they wrote. This year, the Chamber Music Society has assembled an impressive band of virtuosos to present a sumptuous feast that really immerses the audience in this musical world.

REVIEW: Sublime Singing and a Different Side of Jaap

Jaap van Zweden can do delicate too. His inaugural season as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic has burst out of the gate with bombast, shaking the roof of David Geffen Hall with an electric Rite of Spring, Bruckner's behemoth Eighth Symphony, and just last week, Shostakovich's explosive Seventh Symphony. But this week, the Maestro proves he can also maneuver in a lower gear. Joined by German baritone Matthias Goerne, an award-winning interpreter of German lieder commencing his artist-in-residency with the New York Philharmonic, van Zweden has fashioned an intriguing assortment of German and Austrian music, and a revealing peek of his approach to the traditional repertoire.

REVIEW: New York Philharmonic Triumphs in Hair-Raising Britten and Shostakovich

In what might go down as one of this season's most thrilling events, Jaap van Zweden returns to the podium at David Geffen Hall to lead the New York Philharmonic in two incredibly powerful such works. All hands on deck, this is a tight, thrilling account of Shostakovich's dramatic Symphony No. 7, the "Leningrad," from 1941. But the real eye-opener of the concert might be Britten's too rarely played, yet stunning, Violin Concerto, featuring soloist Simone Lamsma in her brilliant debut with the Philharmonic.

REVIEW: Boston Symphony Tackles Mahler's Fifth at Carnegie Hall

Mahler famously said that "The symphony is a world; it must contain everything." The Fifth's everything is that of the tortured, yet fulfilled, soul. Its development from the despair of defeat to the jocular, towering, hard-earned finale is a feat for any orchestra. Even in this bottom-heavy, rueful interpretation, it is impactful, shaking the rafters of the house, and taking the audience's breath away.