IN: News & Features

Critics Remember 2014


father-time-As the old year wanes, many of us are subject to bouts of introspection. The several BMInt writers who are not immune to that tendency have each submitted lists of their favorite CDs and concerts of the last season. We thank them for their reflections. More are expected, so check back. Some have chosen to nominate concerts they have reviewed while others have chosen from concerts which they merely attended. During the past 12 months BMInt has published over 600 reviews and articles, so this epistle must needs place a severe test on the memories of the participants. But this exercise also gives us all yet another reminder of how much to be grateful for the musical life of Boston and its environs. We salute all of our players, writers and presenters. And I add my wishes for a Happy New Year to the readers of this site who on a good day number over 5000. The discourses on these pages and their re-postings on Facebook and Twitter speak volumes to the relevance of the art we celebrate.

Richard Bunbury:

Britten’s War Requiem at Symphony Hall, Nov. 24, BUSO and BU Symphonic Chorus
BSO at Tanglewood, July 14, Nelsons, July 14 all-Dvořák program
Florencia en el Amazonas by Daniel Catán at BU

Lully’s Atys
Larry Bell’s Unchanging Love
Celebrating 40 Years of James Levine

Laura Prichard:

Boston Baroque’s new 24-7 Internet radio station with live streaming of concerts (hosted on its website, and on TuneInRadio & iHeartRadio) here
Boston Baroque Monteverdi’s Ulisse in Jordan Hall
Odyssey Opera Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt
Seraphim Singers “The Short Twentieth Century: Choral Music from 1914 to 1990”
San Francisco Symphony playing in Boston’s Symphony Hall

David Patterson:

Patricia Kopatchinskaja in Violin Concerto No. 2 of Béla Bartók at Discovery Series, Zander, Sanders Theater
BSO with Christoph von Dohnányi  in Resurrection Symphony of Gustav Mahler
Takács Quartet in the even-numbered string quartets of Béla Bartók,

Vance Koven:

BSO Golijov St. Mark
Melnikov playing Shostakovich Op. 87: and here
Penderecki and Dohnanyi sextets at CMCB
Eroica Trio at ISGM
Argento double bill by Odyssey Opera

James Liu:

London Haydn Quartet with some flawless execution in the HIP style with Erich Hoeprich

A Far Cry in a cunningly devised program with Schnittke’s Monologue Kim Kashkashian
Colin Carr’s masterful set of three Bach cello suites at BoCo
For the best concert I personally took part in: Elijah, in German, with Cantata Singers

Marc-André Hamelin’s Chopin recital, recorded in 2009
Gerald Finley and Julius Drake’s CD of Schubert’s Winterreise. 

Curiously, the studio disc has levels of nuance and shading that I found missing in their recital appearance here
Colin Carr’s 2012 remake of the six Bach cello suites from Wigmore Hall
Jeremy Denk’s 2013 recording of the Goldberg Variations

Leon Golub:

Bronfman and von Dohnányi in the Beethoven piano concertos: Here, here, and here

Susan Miron:

Marc-André Hamelin in Dream Partnership
Under Kissin’s Spell
Daria Rabotkina’s Star Rises

Sivan Magen, harp, “Fantasien
Sergey Schepkin, Bach French Suites

Patrick Valentino

Gil Shaham at Tanglewood
NEC Phil Salonen LA Variations
Muir Quartet Wolf and Dvorak

Victor Khatutsky

Sokolov in Amsterdam

Rach 3 with Matsuev
Rach 3 with Trifonov

Lee Eiseman


BSO Brahms Requiem
Hvorostovsky for Celebrity Series
Honeck BSO Eroica


Pappano/Covent Garden Le Nozza di Figaro
Sunrise Murnau 1927
Carousel 1956

David Moran

Boston Chamber Music Society at Kresge: Brahms et alia
Pianist Garrick Ohlsson at Rockport, various
Borromeo Quartet at the Gardner: Dvorak

I beg to include two genuinely lol moments provided by rising pianists: Pavel Nersessian’s Hindemith Tanzstücke and Vadym Kholodenko’s Beethoven Opus 14 no. 2.


WCRB’s BSO Concert Channel: To my ear, it seems that like three-quarters of everything available here from the last year is top-drawer: well-recorded, well-played, most satisfying to reexperience.

Brian Schuth:

 The Borromeo’s evening of the complete Bartok quartets was exhilarating, exhausting and ultimately devastating. I’ve never felt so much despair over the sixth.
Boston Camerata’s Play of Daniel has haunted me since I saw it a couple of weeks ago, something I didn’t expect. Top-rank music making combined with the expert use of space and a hypnotic performance from Jordan Weatherston Pitts as Daniel.
I know this is cheating, but as a clarinetist I had not one but two chances to hear Brahms quintet in performances that changed how I thought about the piece: Eric Hoeprich’s performance with Aston Magna was interesting not only because it was on an original clarinet, but because of how Hoeprich launched himself at the challenges despite the archaic instrument; and Kim Kashkashian’s impassioned reading on the viola, a Brahms-sanctioned substitute. 

Steven Ledbetter:

Monteverdi 1610 Vespers with Boston Baroque

Jason McCool:


Tom Delbanco


Liane Curtis:

Dellal, Montgomery, Heffner in “Reviving Song”   

Michael Johnson:


NEC Philharmonia’s premier of the revised Leon Kirchner Music for Flute and Orchestra, Jordan Hall, November 5.
Soyeon Kate Lee’s piano recital at the Gardner Museum October 14.
Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphonie, Orchestre Nationale de Bordeaux Aquitaine, March 2.


Albany Symphony’s recording of John Corigliano’s Conjurer and Vocalise.
Marc-André Hamelin playing Claude Debussy’s Images and Préludes II.


5 Comments [leave a civil comment (others will be removed) and please disclose relevant affiliations]

  1. Did any of you guys hear the Gewandhaus/Chailly all-Mendelssohn program at Symphony Hall? It was among the top orchestral concerts of my lifetime. I still see in my mind’s eye those first violins, bowing and phrasing in rare unison of spirit and intention.

    Comment by Joel Cohen — December 20, 2014 at 4:53 pm

  2. Oops it wasn’t actually all Felix — there was some Ludwig, too. Same evaluation, however.

    Comment by Joel Cohen — December 20, 2014 at 4:54 pm

  3. For me one of the outstanding concerts was Andras Schiff playing the Goldberg Variations (with all the repeats) then the Diabelli Variations and then a Beethoven encore. The music was uniformly compelling. Similar to a Wagner opera, the concert seemed long before it started but short when it ended.

    Comment by Herbert Rakatansky MD — December 23, 2014 at 6:59 am

  4. Sorry – that was in 2013, But it seems like more recently.

    Comment by Herbert Rakatansky MD — December 23, 2014 at 7:03 am

  5. Favorite recital of 2014? Evgeny Kissin’s Schubert and Scriabin, capped off by one of the most magnificent performances I think any of us will ever hear of Chopin’s Op 53 Polonaise as a final encore.

    Even so, the most magical 7 minutes of piano that I heard this year were Maurizio Pollini’s incomparably tender Schumann Arabeske. From the opening measures I sensed this music issuing from the loftiest wisdom and profoundest depth of heart. Bravo!

    Comment by nimitta — December 23, 2014 at 11:14 am

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