Those end-of-year lists of recommended books are really rather depressing, aren’t they? Even setting aside the pretentious, the uninviting, the distinctly esoteric, there remain all those novels, all those biographies, all those histories, and much more, books that do sound so enticing, yet which you know — despite your best resolutions to read more, and idle less on the internet — you are never going to have the time to read.
Lists of the best CDs of the year, however, I find much more cheering. And with a subscription to Apple Music or the like, you can quickly sample a fair selection of the recommendations that you’d earlier missed, and then listen to a goodly virtual pile of the discs that grab you the most, all in the time it would take to get through that six hundred page history book you aren’t going to read ….
Well, I’ve missed the appropriate time to give my own recommendations from the new classical CDs released in 2015 — and anyway, to be honest, it wouldn’t have been that exciting, but mostly just a rather predictable subset of the monthly recommendations in the Gramophone (predictable, at any rate, given the sort of CDs and concerts mentioned here over the years). So let me begin the year by starting something hopefully a bit more interesting, namely a fairly regular series of ‘CD choice’ posts, mentioning a disc that I’ve been listening to with enjoyment over the previous few days, perhaps emphasizing discs not as well known as they might be. I’ll try, by the way, mostly to mention recordings available on Apple Music (and presumably on other subscription services). It could be a new release, or an old disc that I forgotten that I had, a recent charity-shop find, something caught by chance on internet radio … Who knows? We’ll just see how it goes! [I was thinking of posting weekly, hence the initial title ‘CD of the week’, but I quickly thought better of it — not because I couldn’t recommend a CD every seven days, but because that many posts on music would unbalance what is still supposed to be mainly a logic-related blog!]
First up, then, a delightful disc first released in 2014, the oboist Albrecht Mayer’s “Lost and Found”. This is subtitled “Oboenkonzerte des 18. Jahrhunderts von Hoffmeister, Lebrun, Fiala und Kozeluh”, which sounds potentially worthy but dull; but in fact, this is simply very, very enjoyable.
So these are concertos for oboe and cor anglais from around the 1780s, contemporary with Mozart and Haydn, from four other composers well known in the day (and not entirely “lost” since!). The music is immediately engaging yet certainly stands up to repeated listenings. The playing on the CD is terrific (as the Gramophone agrees). Try it!