The turn of a decade and the start of a new year are always times for retrospection, and a variety of music writers and critics are weighing in with their views. Among the many newspapers recently publishing retrospectives on 2009 and on the decade that began in 2000 are the Los Angeles Times, Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times, and Seattle Times. In Mark Swed’s look back on the decade in Sunday’s (12/20) Los Angeles Times, he cites as high points Osvaldo Golijov’s 2000 work La Pasion Segun San Marco, the opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall (2003), and the “inevitable” collapse of the recording industry that didn’t happen. Likewise, Andrew Clements in Friday’s (12/18) Guardian (London) also writes about the growing strength of in-house record labels, with “big multinationals” in retreat. Anne Midgette in the Sunday (12/20) Washington Post lists her top ten record picks for 2009, which include performances featuring the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (Bernstein’s Mass), the Los Angeles Philharmonic (all-Salonen recording), the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (Mahler Symphony No. 1), and Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble (Terry Riley’s In C, Remixed). In the New York Times, Anthony Tommasini cites among 2009’s highlights the opening of Alice Tully Hall, the return of New York City Opera to the stage, and Alan Gilbert’s first season  as music director of the New York Philharmonic; Vivien Schweitzer mentions Janacek’s From the House of the Dead at the Metropolitan Opera, Rossini’s Semiramide at the Caramoor Festival, and Weill’s The Firebrand of Florence at Alice Tully Hall; and Allan Kozinn cites Trey Anastasio’s Time Turns Elastic with the New York Philharmonic, at Carnegie Hall; performances by the ensembles Ethel and Lionheart; of Phil Kline’s John the Revelator at the Bang on a Can Marathon; and Jefferson Friedman’s song cycle On in Love for rock singer and amplified ensemble at the Miller Theater. In the Buffalo News, Mary Kunz Goldman is one of several critics who list their three wishes for the near year. Among Goldman’s wishes are that the Buffalo Philharmonic “achieves a sure financial footing” and that “the orchestra’s endowment continue to grow and its debt disappear … and continue on its upward artistic curve and continue recording.” In the Seattle Times, Melinda Bargreen takes a humorous look at the “follies and tidbits” of the past year, including falls from the stage (conductor David Ott, singers Ana Maria Martinez and Joyce DiDonato); baritone Bryn Terfel’s forgetting his concert trousers for a concert in Korea; and a study by Virgil Griffith, a Caltech computer-systems graduate student, that the average SAT score (1371) was highest for users whose “favorite music” was Beethoven (Lil Wayne, at 889, got the bottom score).

Posted December 23, 2009