The first recording I was moved to listen to in 2018 is Hidden, a new Wergo album featuring two dynamic, disparate compositions by Chaya Czernowin. Adiantum Capillus-Veneris (2015-16) is a three-part composition designated "for voice and breath" – the first and second parts involving amplification, the last adding electronics – performed with intimacy and vitality here by mezzo-soprano Inbal Hever. Its disc mate, Hidden (2013-14), a long, elaborate, feverishly inventive piece for string quartet and electronics, is presented in a brilliant account by the JACK Quartet (original personnel), to whom it was dedicated, in collaboration with computer-music designer Carlo Laurenzi and sound engineer Jérémie Henrot of IRCAM, which commissioned the piece. (In April 2016 I reviewed for the Boston Globe a live performance of Hidden involving JACK and Henrot, at the Institute of Contemporary Art.)
It's a remarkable record, one to which I expect to return throughout the year. Being that it was released on SACD in Europe and in digital form globally on November 24, Hidden even made at least one Best of 2017 tally that I'm aware of, and quite possibly more. Here in the U.S., though, the CD will be issued on January 12. So I'm treating Hidden as a 2018 release that I happened to hear in advance, as is often the case… and one that I'm sure I'll be remembering at the end of this year.
I did make a few Best of 2017 tallies of my own, published late last week on National Sawdust Log. The first highlights a select handful of shows at National Sawdust and recordings on VIA Records, the house label, that I found especially satisfying – obviously I don't claim complete objectivity. The second lists the 10 most memorable events I attended in 2017; I also mention two incredible events I disqualified because of personal involvement. The third is my tally of the year's most noteworthy records… 20 new recordings, 10 archival releases, and 50 more records that moved me strongly enough to merit mention. (Time ran out before I could annotate that last list, but I still intend to get around to it.)