2007: Classical's Short, Sweet Best List

Rants, recitals, and media darlings.

Best orchestral performance: Sibelius' music often seems to evoke nature and natural processes rather than the human realm, and the Pittsburgh Symphony's April performance at Benaroya, led by Andrew Davis, of Sibelius' elemental Fifth Symphony sounded literally superhuman: The music unfolded with a pacing perfectly calibrated for maximum power and beauty yet as unstudied as the blossoming of a flower, dressed in tone colors so soft and glowing they sounded like they weren't produced by people playing instruments but simply happened. It was in fact one of the finest orchestral performances I've heard from anyone anywhere. Best recital: Media darling Joshua Roman, the new Seattle Symphony cellist who's been written up now in every local publication this side of Northwest Knitting Monthly, put his impeccable technique in the service of drama and deep thoughtfulness in a March Town Hall recital, playing a crazy-difficult program of Bach, Ligeti, and Kodaly. Best idea: The Esoterics introduced supertitles into their choral concerts, a device which works so much better than printing vocal texts in a program that you wonder why it took so long for someone to try it. And it's hardly cost-ineffective, requiring only a screen, a laptop with PowerPoint, and someone to write and run the titles. Best rant: I had reservations about Igor Keller's oratorio Mackris v. O'Reilly, premiered in January, but his four-part postmortem tua culpa on www.artdish.com is a fascinating account of the agony he went through to get it staged and the toll it took on his emotional health and his savings account. His bitterness is very far from unjustified: Several people he approached about performing the work either gave him the runaround, backed out at the last minute, or flat-out lied. On the other hand, he seems genuinely baffled that community orchestras and choirs won't immediately commit upon request to rehearsing and performing two-and-a-half-hour works by composers with no track record. And he sneers at Mozart, convinced the only possible reason anyone would rather have seen Don Giovanni, also playing that weekend, is because of Seattle Opera's "marketing machine." gborchert@seattleweekly.com

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