My favorite albums of 2017

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by scompton, Jan 28, 2018.

  1. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Various Artists - Aho: Saxophone Concerto and Quintet

    I've been working long hours, including weekends, so haven't had time to post. Fortunately, that's backed off some for now.

    Any new Kalevi Aho album BIS puts out is an auto buy for me even without sampling. I've loved everything I've heard by him and this one is no exception. I'm slowly buying the back catalog, which is extensive. The blurb for this albums says that he's composed sixteen symphonies and twenty-eight concertos, several operas and a large number of chamber works. BIS hasn't put them all out yet.

    This album is especially a no brainer for me because I love classical saxophone. This concerto lives up to my expectation. For the most part, the concerto is slow and quiet. Only a few segments are marked presto and they're fairly short. There's not a lot of dissonance either. The wind quintet is a little more upbeat, although the longest movement is named Nocturno. The album closes with a solo violin piece which is back to slow and quiet.


    Spotify: Aho: Concerto for Soprano Saxophone & Chamber Orchestra and Quintet for Winds & Piano

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  2. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Los Angeles Percussion Quartet - Beyond

    Another band that is an auto buy for me. Unlike Kalevi Aho, their discography is small and I own it all. IMO, they are the best percussion ensemble out there now and they commission a lot of music, although only one for this album. They were formed to premote West Coast composers. This album is called Beyond because they expanded to composers from the Nevada, Brooklyn and Iceland, Daníel Bjarnason, Christopher Cerrone, Andrew McIntosh, Ellen Reid and Anna Þorvaldsdóttir.

    I know some people think percussion music is just things being pounded on but this is nothing like that. There are a lot of mallets and stick hitting things, but there's also a lot of bowing and rubbing that produces a lot of interesting sounds.

    Spotify: Beyond

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  3. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Nicolas Horvath - Rääts: Complete Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1

    Jaan Rääts is a new to me composer. These are modern piano sonatas composed between 1959 and 2000. The music is quite unlike any I've heard. It's less dissonant that other late 20th century piano music I've heard and yet sounds completely modern. I'm looking forward to volume 2.

    Spotify: Rääts: Complete Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1

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  4. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Jeremy Kerner/Isaura String Quartet - Daniel Corral: Refractions

    This year is the first year I bought classical music on Bandcamp, maybe 15 albums. This is one. As far as I know, it's not available anywhere else. It is available as a CD from Bandcamp.

    It's one composition for electric guitar, string quartet and electronically processed music box. It could have been placed in my ambient list instead of in classical.


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  5. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Kuniko Kato - Bach: Solo works for marimba

    The only album of non-20th century music on the list and it's a transcription of Bach solo instrument works. Kuniko is another auto buy artist for me. Every one of her albums are great. This could be a good entre into percussion music, especially for people who like Bach. Then again, some purists will hate it.

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    Not available for streaming, but here's a live performance of her playing Bach

     
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  6. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Barbara Hannigan - Crazy Girl Crazy

    This is a very popular album which is surprising to me since it isn't the most accessible music, except for the 13 minute suite of Gershwin. The highlight for me is the Berio. Hannigan's singing in it is amazing. Hannigan is an exception to my generally not liking vocal music, especially solo vocal music. I have three albums she sings on and love them all. The disappointment on this album is the Lulu Suite. It's 35 minutes of one of the great singers of contemporary music, conducting and instrumental piece. It's very good, but I'd rather hear her sing.

    Spotify: Crazy Girl Crazy

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  7. Kingsley Fats

    Kingsley Fats Forum Resident

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  8. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    The only blues release I bought this year is Otis Taylor - Fantasizing About Being Black. I like blues when I listen to it, but for some reason, I don't go out of my way looking for it. I'll check out some on that list. I love some of the retro cover art.
     
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  9. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Tetraktis Ensemble - Ionisation - Percussion Music by Varèse, Reich, Chavez, Cowell, Harrison, Cage

    I was so excited when I saw this album online that I ordered it after listening to a couple of samples. I didn't realize I was preordering it a couple of months before it's release. The Chavez, Cowell and Harrison got me the most excited. I have very little of their music and for Chavez and Cowell, nothing that I own is percussion music. Harrison's music tends to be full of percussion, especially gamelan. It's also nice to have pre-WWII percussion music. Except for the Reich piece, all of the music was composed between 1929 and 1942.

    Spotify: Ionisation; Percussion Music

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  10. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Third Coast Percussion - Philippe Manoury: The Book of Keyboards

    If you haven't noticed yet, I love percussion music. This is the first of two albums on the list by Third Coast Percussion, another group that is an auto buy for me.

    Spotify: Philippe Manoury: The Book of Keyboards

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  11. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
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  12. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Various Artists - Tüür: Peregrinus ecstaticus - Le poids des vies non vécues - Noesis

    Another modern clarinet concerto, along with a violin and clarinet concerto and an orchestral piece. Tüür is another modern composer whose works I really like. The violin and clarinet concerto is the highlight although everything is great. At points this music is very dissonant.

    Spotify: Tüür: Peregrinus ecstaticus - Le poids des vies non vécues - Noēsis

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  13. screechmartin

    screechmartin Forum Resident

    Location:
    British Columbia
    e
     
  14. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Various Artists - Harrison: Violin Concerto, Grand Duo & Double Music

    The violin concerto is essentially a concerto for violin and traditional and junk percussion, right up my alley. The junk percussion includes brake drums, galvanized washtubs, clock coils set in a base made from an old guitar body, coffee cans, wind chimes, flower pots, and plumber's pipes. I'm not sure what they use for coffee cans now days since it's been years since I've seen a coffee can.

    The Grand Duo is for violin and piano. Double Music is co-composed with John Cage and comes out of series of duo percussion concerts by Harrison and Cage in San Francisco.

    Spotify: Harrison: Violin Concerto, Grand Duo & Double Music

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  15. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Daniel Bjarnason - Recurrence (ISO Project, Vol. 1)

    A collection of orchestral music by Icelandic composers, played by the Iceland Symphony conducted Daníel Bjarnason, who also composed one of the pieces. Over the past few years, I've been discovering Icelandic composers and have yet to hear anything I don't like. Anna Þorvaldsdóttir and Daníel Bjarnason have works on this album as well as Beyond posted previously. The other composers are Thurídur Jónsdóttir, Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir and Hlynur Aðils Vilmarsson. Before this year, I was only familiar with Anna Þorvaldsdóttir who has been getting some press for the past few years.

    Overall the music is pretty atmospheric, although not to the point that I'd consider it ambient.

    Spotify: Recurrence

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  16. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Ensemble Aleph - Kagel: The 8 Pieces of the Wind Rose

    I discovered Kagel through the Avant Garde Project downloads. I haven't gone out of my way to buy his music, but I enjoyed the download enough to buy his music when it pops up.

    This music is not that far out there. It's a really mish-mash of musical styles and ideas, loosely themed on compass directions. Since Kagel is an Argentine, the directions don't necessarily invoke what Americans or Europeans would think of with those directions. For instance, NW is the Andes and NE is the Amazon. Overall very accessible.

    Spotify: Kagel: The 8 Pieces of the Wind Rose

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  17. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble - Hushers

    Another Bandcamp purchase. Very interesting and very modern choral music. Two of the works are settings of poems by Thomas Merton set by Kate Soper and Sylvia Plath set by Kaija Saariaho. The other two pieces by Warren Enström and Giacinto Scelsi are mostly just sounds. Warren Enström's Hushers does supposedly end in real lyrics but I don't understand them. They're either not in English or just unintelligible. The beginning of Hushers is a lot of fricative sounds and when the lyrics do start, it's very dissonant. The Kate Soper work is pretty much unintelligible too.

    Hushers is the highlight for me.

    Bandcamp: Hushers, by Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble

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  18. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Roomful of Teeth - How A Rose

    If this wasn't a single, it would be my favorite release of the year. This is gorgeous music. It was recorded during a residency at The Tank Center for Sonic Arts in Rangely, CO. It was recorded in an old railroad water tower in a the desert in Western Colorado. The reverb in the tank is wonderful. It's a setting of Praetorius's 1609 setting of "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen." Evidently, they recorded a lot more. I'm really looking forward to a full album of this.

    Bandcamp: How A Rose, by Roomful of Teeth

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    Here's a video of them singing another piece in the tank, Michael Harrison's Just Constellations.

     
  19. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Tamsin Waley-Cohen - Waley-Cohen: Permutations & Unveil

    This would have made my list if it wasn't an EP. Very interesting violin music composed by Freya Waley-Cohen and played by her sister Tamsin Waley-Cohen. Permutations is for six pre-recorded violins and was part of an installation piece commissioned by the 2017 Aldeburgh Festival. Each violin part was played in one of six chambers. At various points in the setting, you can hear from one to all of the violin parts. The audience wanders through the chambers so the experience of the music depends on how they wander between the chambers.

    Unveil is for solo violin and based on some of the ideas and improvisations when writing Permutations.

    Spotify: Freya Waley-Cohen: Permutations

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  20. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Various Artists - Molly Joyce: Lean Back and Release

    Another good EP of violin music. This time music for a live violin accompanied by two pre-recorded violins.

    Bandcamp: Lean Back and Release, by Molly Joyce

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  21. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Jeroen Van Veen - Minimal Piano Collection: Volume XXI-XXVIII

    My last classical entry is a boxed set that is my favorite box set released last year. It's a small box, not a mega box. I've been a big fan of Jeroen Van Veen's minimalist piano boxed sets he's been releasing on Brilliant Classics. This box continues the trend of excellent releases. This includes what is supposed to be the first minimalist piece, Dennis Johnson's November composed in 1959.

    Spotify: Minimal Piano Collection: Volume XXI-XXVIII

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  22. TheIncredibleHoke

    TheIncredibleHoke Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Just wanted to thank you for this fantastic post. Tons of interesting stuff I haven't heard of, but am now making "must listen to" list.
     
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  23. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Ditto, must've been incredibly time consuming to put this all together @scompton, but extremely interesting to follow you through all these lists and descriptions. Thanks for all the effort!
     
  24. NorthNY Mark

    NorthNY Mark Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canton, NY, USA
    Yes--it will take me some time to sample everything, but I very much appreciate the opportunity. Thanks for doing this!
     
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  25. scompton

    scompton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Ambient

    I didn't buy as much ambient this year as in the past few years and not all I bought actually stuck with me so I only have a top 8

    1. Kristoffer Lo - Anhedonia
    2. Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement - Ambient Black Magic
    3. Chihei Hatakeyama - Mirage
    4. ekin fil - ghosts inside
    5. Slomo - Transits
    6. GAS - Narkopop
    7. Kassel Jaeger/Jim O'Rourke - Wakes on Cerulean
    8. Visible Cloaks - Reassemblage
     

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