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Best of 2001
Top 10 in Classical Music

 
BY PETER G. DAVIS
 

Kurt Masur: A loving send-off from the Philharmonic.
 

Cecilia Bartoli Sings Gluck Arias
On her latest disc from Decca, Bartoli investigates eight unknown but consistently captivating Italian arias by this great eighteenth-century composer, and her vocal virtuosity has never been more spectacular.
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Chicago Symphony Orchestra
A refreshing alternative to the surface brilliance of James Levine's Wagner at the Met, Daniel Barenboim's searching, committed, and at times incandescent concert performance of Tristan und Isolde at Carnegie Hall was a revelation. Ditto soprano Waltraud Meier as she explored every facet of Isolde's conflicted personality.
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The Flying Dutchman
The City Opera seldom tackles Wagner, but this compelling new production staged by Stephen Lawless and conducted by George Manahan suggests that the company should try more often. In the title role, Mark Delavan found the perfect vehicle for his burly, wide-bore baritone.
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The Gambler
Prokofiev's coruscating first opera is a gripping Dostoevskian tale of obsessives, sadists, spiteful snobs, and self-destructive neurotics. The Metropolitan's splendid new production, directed by Temur Chkheidze and conducted by Valery Gergiev, mirrored the opera's sardonic manner and frantic pace exactly and augurs well for the company's upcoming production of the same composer's monumental War and Peace.
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A Great Day in New York
That's what they called it when no fewer than 52 composers, each in some way connected with the city, somehow managed to gather and pose for a group picture and later attend a grand festival of their music sponsored by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. May the warm spirit of solidarity generated by these concerts continue.
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Hans Werner Henze's Symphony No. 9
A shattering choral symphony, born of Henze's bitter memories of Nazi Germany and conscription into the army as a teenager, this is one of the many new works performed by the New York Philharmonic during Kurt Masur's tenure that seem guaranteed to last.
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Les Huguenots
The Opera Orchestra of New York has been reviving rarities and introducing important new singers for years, seldom achieving more exciting results than with this once extravagantly popular French grand opera. With Eve Queler conducting, and tenor Marcello Giordani and soprano Krassimira Stoyanova in top form, Giacomo Meyerbeer's historical epic once again seemed like an important opera.
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Kodo
These drummers from Japan arrived at Carnegie Hall and, inspired by the shapes and sizes of their many intriguing instruments as well as by the rhythms and dynamics of the music they play, performed with an athletic grace that was positively hypnotic. In Japanese, kodo means heartbeat, which perhaps explains the gut appeal of this remarkable ensemble.
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The Makropulos Case
Like the heroine of Janácek's opera, German Kunstdiva Anja Silja refuses to grow old, and her impersonation of Emilia Marty, a 337-year-old woman who learns to accept mortality and embrace death, is a tour de force. The mesmerizing Glyndebourne production came to bam last winter, and Silja's performance, characteristically physical, fearless, and self-revealing, improves with age.
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Kurt Masur at the New York Philharmonic
To honor departing music director Kurt Masur, the Philharmonic has issued a handsomely packaged ten-CD boxed set of live performances highlighting Masur's eleven-year reign. Taking pride of place is the maestro's eloquent interpretation of Bach's mighty Saint Matthew Passion.
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Photograph by AP/Worldwide

 
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