As published in the December 27 edition of Time Out New York, here is my annual list of the top ten events, happenings and developments in New York City's classical music scene for 2007 (in alphabetical order), followed by lists of my top ten classical and non-classical recordings.
"Berlin in Lights" Carnegie Hall's ambitious salute to Germany's cultural capital offered context for incandescent performances by Gustavo Dudamel, Simon Rattle and many more.
Concrete Robert Ashley's latest multimedia opera took us someplace we'd never been before: deep inside the composer's most personal memories.
Sasha Cooke After an arresting summer cameo at the Bard Music Festival, this young mezzo served notice of a major talent on the rise at Zankel Hall in October. [New note: Cooke is currently appearing as the Sandman in the Met's Hansel and Gretel, and will present a concert titled "The Eternal Feminine" at Ico Gallery (formerly Gallerie Icosahedron) on Thursday, January 10 at 7pm.]
Delusion of the Fury Japan Society's sharp production of Harry Partch's quirky magnum opus was the year's most moving revival.
DG Web Shop The venerable Deutsche Grammophon label unveiled the first download store guaranteed to please the pickiest classical audiophile.
ICE Burg The International Contemporary Ensemble set up shop in Brooklyn in spring, and promptly mounted its biggest, most diverse New York season to date.
Il Barbiere di Siviglia How could the Metropolitan Opera improve Bartlett Sher's winning new production? By adding spunky mezzo Joyce DiDonato to the mix.
Iphigénie en Tauride Susan Graham and Plácido Domingo were riveting in this profound Gluck drama, while director Stephen Wadsworth deftly balanced the mythic and the intimate.
Nico Muhly In his debut Zankel Hall showcase, wildly inventive composer Muhly stacked his quirky postclassical pieces up against the Tudor church music that first fired his imagination.
What Next? Elliott Carter marked his 99th birthday with a sold-out run of his cryptic opera at Miller Theatre.
Top Ten Classical Recordings
1. J.S. Bach Goldberg Variations (Telarc) Simone Dinnerstein's intensely personal take on this keyboard cornerstone polarized critics... and became a runaway hit.
2. Steve Reich Music for 18 Musicians (Innova) Michigan's Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble made a disc of the minimalist masterpiece that won the composer's approval.
3. Osvaldo Golijov Oceana (Deutsche Grammophon) Dawn Upshaw, the Kronos Quartet, Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony demonstrated the infinite variety of the Argentine composer's music.
4. Robert Ashley Now Eleanor's Idea (Lovely Music) More than a decade after the last performance of Ashley's freewheeling lowrider exegesis, recording technology has finally caught up.
5. Tristan Murail Winter Fragments (Aeon) Michel Galante's excellent Argento Chamber Ensemble made its CD debut with crystalline landscapes from a modern French master.
6. Sibelius and Lindberg Violin Concertos (Sony Classical) Lisa Batiashvili reveled in the cool fire of Sibelius's familiar showpiece, and introduced a new classic by Lindberg.
7. Bridget Kibbey Love Is Come Again (self-released) With playing, production and packaging as gorgeous as local harpist Kibbey provided on her first CD, who needs a record label?
8. Mark Padmore As Steals the Morn... (Harmonia Mundi) Handel recitals arrive more often than crosstown buses, but British tenor Padmore commanded respect for his poise and precise diction.
9. Ludwig van Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 3 and 8 (RCA Red Seal) Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie turned two well-worn standards into brisk, bracing voyages of discovery.
10. Michael Harrison Revelation (Cantaloupe) Pianist-composer Harrison documented his just-intonation solo manifesto, and the results were completely absorbing.
Top Ten Non-Classical Recordings
1. Suzanne Vega Beauty & Crime (Blue Note) New York's soft-spoken poet laureate fashioned a love letter to her hometown, filled with ghosts, nostalgia and quiet passion.
2. Tyshawn Sorey that/not (Firehouse 12) The young polymath drummer, pianist, trombonist and composer recorded a suitably audacious CD debut. [Bonus track: My TONY CD review, from the December 13 issue.]
3. Radiohead In Rainbows (W.A.S.T.E.) A mix of solid songcraft and adventure made Radiohead's seventh studio effort vital well past its download-by date.
4. Robert Glasper In My Element (Blue Note) In their second Blue Note outing, pianist Glasper and his triomates breath fresh life and fire into a well-worn format.
5. Battles Mirrored (Warp) Mixing Ty Braxton's loopy, good-natured vocals with a solid math-metal core is sort of like watching Multiplication Rock on the monitor while sweating at Crunch.
6. Muhal Richard Abrams Vision Toward Essence (Pi) The Chicago patriarch distills a lifetime spent extending jazz tradition into a single hour at the piano.
7. Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles Diamonds in the Dark (Sugar Hill) Boston singer-guitarist Borges draws a straight line from Wanda Jackson to X in this memorable set of rowdy rockers and weepy ballads.
8. Exploding Star Orchestra We Are All from Somewhere Else (Thrill Jockey) Globe-trotting cornetist Rob Mazurek and his big big band hit escape velocity in a fiery set that bites Sun Ra, Steve Reich, Kraftwerk and funk.
9. Brakesbrakesbrakes The Beatific Visions (Worlds Fair) It's just a madly infectious collection of twangy pub punk -- until you notice undertones of paranoia and wartime unease in Eamon Hamilton's lyrics.
10. Sam Sadigursky The Words Project (New Amsterdam) Saxophonist Sam Sadigursky's literate, luminous poetry settings are given voice by a bumper crop of impressive young singers.
I abstained from both the Idolator and Pazz & Jop polls this year, reckoning that I hadn't paid very much attention to pop records this year (and didn't care much for most of what I heard -- The National being a noteworthy exception). But for good measure, here's the ballot I submitted for this year's Village Voice Jazz Poll, half of which you'll recognize from what immediately preceded it.
Top Ten Jazz CDs of 2007
1. Tyshawn Sorey that/not (Firehouse 12)
2. Robert Glasper In My Element (Blue Note)
3. Muhal Richard Abrams Vision Toward Essence (Pi)
4. Exploding Star Orchestra We Are All from Somewhere Else (Thrill Jockey)
5. Sam Sadigursky The Words Project (New Amsterdam)
6. Tim Berne's Bloodcount Seconds (Screwgun)
7. The Bad Plus Prog (Do the Math/Heads Up)
8. Brad Shepik Trio Places You Go (Songlines)
9. Myra Melford and Tanya Kalmanovitch Heart Mountain (Perspicacity)
10. Amir ElSaffar Two Rivers (Pi)
1. Miles Davis The Complete On the Corner Sessions (Sony Legacy)
2. Bennie Maupin The Jewel in the Lotus (ECM)
3. Charles Mingus Charles Mingus in Paris: The Complete America Recordings (Sunnyside)
Top vocal CD
Sam Sadigursky The Words Project (New Amsterdam)
Top debut CD
Tyshawn Sorey that/not (Firehouse 12)