December 10, 2006
By John von Rhein
Tribune music critic
The Chicago Tribune original link

Major labels make right move; indies a cut above


The continuing downsizing of classical recording was the most worrisome refrain of 2006. Yet the overall outlook was far from bleak. Much remained healthy on the artistic end, and many exceptional recordings appeared, some available as downloads to tickle the attention of the iPod generation.

On the positive side, the major classical labels cut back on mindless rerecording of the core repertory, a move that was long overdue. Once again the great hope of the industry lay with quality independent labels such as the ECM New Series, Harmonia Mundi, Naxos and Cedille, which continued to issue admirable recordings that filled salient gaps in the catalog.

Here are 10 of my favorite classical recordings of 2006.

4. Karol Szymanowski's music has its adherents but not enough of them to guarantee his sensuous, colorful music its rightful place in the concert hall; much the same applies to Bohuslav Martinu's neglected concertante works. Both concertos are given sleek, probing performances by the Illinois-born violinist, firmly supported by Kalmar and the Grant Park Orchestra. The concert performances from 2004 and 2005 represent the first recordings made in the Harris Theater at Millennium Park.

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