"Stille Tranen" (mp3) from Liederkreis, Op. 39, Schumann. For some stupid reason I think I wrote that I was underwhelmed by Matthias Goerne after seeing him live last year. F that. His Schumann is exquisite.
"Standchen" (mp3) from Schwanengesang, Schubert. For some compare n' contrast fun, here's some Schumann from the chairman of the (german lieder singing) board, DFD.
"Cants Magic: Energic" (mp3) and "Prelude No. 1" (mp3) Federico Mompou, Stephen Hough. Some years ago, staying late at work one night, some of Mompou's pieces came on the radio. I was entranced, as was the coworker sitting opposite me, someone with little interest otherwise in the piano repertoire, and we continued to talk about and listen to these from time to time for as long as we worked together. A line from Stephen Hough's notes to this album has always stuck with me: "In the light of Artur Schnabel's quaint yet charming generalization, 'Mozart is a garden; Schubert is a forest--in sunlight and shadow; Beethoven is a mountain range', perhaps Mompou is a window box...Indeed there is always an element of distance in Mompou between subject and objects--the children's games, the singing and dancing are seen and heard from the next street; and his music thrives indoors in the city, not in the sultry southern sun of Moorish Spain."
"Ich sah das Kind an seiner Mutter Brust..." (mp3) from Parsifal, Act II, Wagner. While killing time during a brief stopover in London this summer, I ducked into this CD shop next door to the ENO and came out with this 1954 Parsifal from the Met. Astrid Varnay sings Kundry, with Svet Svanholm in the title role, George London as Amfortas and Hans Hotter as the 'Manz. It's a pretty great recording overall, but what can I say. Varnay kills me. I feel like seeing her Kundry live would have done permanent brain damage.
"Etude No. 11 Op. 8" (mp3) and "Vers La Flamme" (mp3), op. 72, Scriabin, Vladimir Horowitz. This past Christmas I got my mother David Dubal's Conversations with Horowitz book, replete with a CD of Horowitz discussing his life and the piano. It's quite a thing to listen to Horowitz talk about the master composers and interpreters as living breathing artists. It reminds one of what living the tradition of this music really means--a far cry from the extremes of dead culture-bashing and sappy reverence we seem to always come back to these days.
"Come in quest'ora bruna" (mp3) from Simon Boccanegra, Verdi, Victoria De Los Angeles, Opera di Roma, 1958. Yeah, I know people were kind of blah about the Boccanegras this year, and for good reason it seems, but stuff like this makes me wish I'd gotten to see it in the flesh for the first time.
"Death Serenade" (mp3) from Dances of Death, Mussorgsky, Ewa Podles. Poodles Trovatore or Bust.
Act II duet between Mazeppa and Maria (mp3) from Mazeppa, Tchaikovsky, Sergei Lefkerus and Galina Gorchakova, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Jarvi conducts. It is a bummer that Mazeppa, which, despite a controversial production (which was in fact kick ass) was indisputably one of the most exciting new pieces in the house last year, is nowhere to be seen. Remember the awesomeness! Bring it back!
"Le Ciel Dans Une Chambre" (mp3) And we'll close with an awfully lovely song by the French (Italian actually) singer Carla Bruni...