I admit to being less adventurous this year than in past years in my recording consumption: much more of my listening came from favorites from the past, rediscovered.
That said, here are the new things I loved this year.
A beautiful collection of standards, in settings designed to support his subtly exquisite singing. We first learned of him through Hamilton, where he starred as Aaron Burr, but fell in love with his voice and interpretation on this album.
This is the first album released from my alma mater under the tenure of Greg Jasperse. As an alum, I was predisposed to like this album, but in truth, I loved it! Greg takes the group in a new direction while honoring the long tradition. The singing and writing are all wonderful.
We helped Kickstart the debut album from Nat. He’s a great writer and singer, and the album is a demo of his virtuosity. I can’t link to my favorite track, “Holiday”, but the title track is also great:
Mendelssohn Symphonies (Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Yannick Nézet-Séguin)
We watched the live stream of this concert from the Philharmonie de Paris in February; joyous playing and conducting (baton-free!). Yannick has become a fast favorite in our house, and this performance was particularly beautiful.
Watch and listen to the archived performance here.
A longtime friend, but don’t let that stop you. Derek is a wonderful, passionate singer and human being, and this live album captures him with an enthusiastic audience.
LEVELELEVEN LIVE (The Real Group + Rajaton, live in concert)
Another live stream, archived online. There’s a clip below (the opening piece of the concert). You should be able to find the full concert at Cineplay.se. These two groups are remarkable in their collaboration. There’s an argument to be made that they should view each other as competitors – how many Nordic a cappella groups can make it as international touring acts? – but instead they collaborate and share at the very highest level.
Lin-Manuel Miranda composes and sings, alongside the rest of the cast of Disney’s Moana. Great songs, an inspiring message, and stellar performances (even from The Rock!). One of our family favorites is this hilarious track.
This is why I named this post “Recordings” and not “Albums”. Alice’s conversation with Krista Tippett is a powerful and necessary conversation about singing and connection. I’ve had an On Being kind of year, and this rose immediately to the top of my list of favorite episodes. If you haven’t already heard the show, listen now. If you already have, listen to the unedited 80-minute conversation. It contains more than twice as much conversation, and delves more deeply into Alice’s philosophies and insights.
In retrospect, much of the best new music I heard this year was released by friends and colleagues. What a blessing that is! I’m looking forward to much more new music in 2017, including more by friends, and hopefully music I can’t even imagine today.
What was the best new music you heard this year?