Britten, Orchestral Songs, Ian Bostridge and the Berlin Philharmonic under Simon Rattle (EMI). Magically detailed, staggeringly expressive interpretations of the great cycles Serenade, Les Illuminations, and Nocturne. This should have been on my best-of list last year. Magnus Lindberg, Clarinet Concerto, Gran Duo, Chorale, Sakari Oramo conducting the Finnish RSO (Ondine). The concerto is Lindberg's most lushly melodic, Debussy-soaked work to date, yet should-be superstar clarinetist Kari Kriikku periodically unleashes spastic-garden-hose* cadenzas that access the punkish power of early Lindberg pieces like Kraft. Bach, Concerto in D Minor, BWV 1052, Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin (Harmonia Mundi). Haunting, potent reconstruction by Midori Seiler of the "lost" Violin Concerto in D minor, working off the Harpsichord Concerto in D minor in the C. P. E. Bach transcription. Sufjan Stevens, Seven Swans (Sounds Familyre). Adorable songster's rendition of apocalyptic title track at Jazz at Lincoln Center last weekend (part of the American Songbook series) nearly ended the world. Now I get it, Clownsilly. Nicolas Gombert, Missa Media vita in morte sumus, Hilliard Ensemble (ECM). Where's Hermann Broch's word beyond speech when you need it?
On the MP3 player, a playlist that I like to think of as Sasha's Nightmare: Pere Ubu's "Final Solution," Pavement's "Summer Babe," Sonic Youth's "Schizophrenia," Minor Threat's "In My Eyes," Stephin Merritt's "Falling Out of Love (With You)," Sebadoh's "Brand New Love," The Ex's "State of Shock."
*Metaphor coined by Michael C. Vazquez circa 1993.