Opus 3 Artists's Best of 2010

Donald Runnicles, Patrick Summers, Gene Scheer, Jeremy Denk, Garrick Ohlsson, Jennifer Koh, Yo-Yo Ma, Brooklyn Rider , Minnesota Orchestra , Francesca Zambello, Chanticleer

Congratulations to all of the Opus 3 Artists included in the following "Best of 2010" lists.

Washington Post

The 10 best classical albums of 2010

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"Jeremy Denk Plays Ives" [Think Denk Media]. Denk's piano playing mingles urbanity with unabashed beauty. The combination, coupled with an engaging intelligence, has brought him into the limelight in the past couple of years, and it sheds plenty of light on Charles Ives, who's become something of a calling card, on this self-produced CD, which illuminates through thoughtful liner notes and playing that removes the spines from this usually thorny composer, making him less off-putting than downright seductive.

Tchaikovsky, "The Three Piano Concertos." Stephen Hough; Osmo Vanska, Minnesota Orchestra [Hyperion]. More Tchaikovsky. Hyperion's marvelous "Romantic Piano Concerto" series, which offers excellent performances of scholarly editions of more- and less-known works, marked its 50th release with a bang: the biggest romantic concerto in the repertory, paired with its less-known siblings, played by an artist who mines the nuance (yes, nuance) of the scores, supported by one of America's best orchestra-conductor teams.

Brooklyn Rider, "Dominant Curve" [In a Circle Records]. Call it alt-classical or simply progressive: This recording illustrates how musicians today move through many stylistic worlds on a single, sensible trip. This crack quartet is composed of alums of the Silk Road Ensemble; their crisp vital reading of the Debussy quartet is at the heart of a recording exploring Eastern influences in music by everyone from the Japan-born Kojiro Umezaki to John Cage.

San Francisco Chronicle

2010 in review: Classical music

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High: "Die Walküre" (June 10-30) No contest. This magnificently sung and forcefully staged Wagnerian offering - with conductor Donald Runnicles leading a top-notch cast headed by soprano Nina Stemme and baritone Mark Delavan - wasn't just the high point of the musical year, it was the best thing San Francisco Opera has done in nearly a decade. If the full "Ring" Cycle in June can match this foretaste, it'll be a dazzler.

Top 10

Lera Auerbach and Alisa Weilerstein (April 6) The expressive young Russian-born pianist and composer Lera Auerbach followed the example of Bach, Chopin and Shostakovich in writing a set of 24 preludes for herself and cellist Alisa Weilerstein. The results were evocative, varied and often ravishingly beautiful.

"Moby-Dick" (April 30-May 16) Jake Heggie's operatic treatment of the Herman Melville classic, with an ingenious libretto by Gene Scheer, is his finest creation since "Dead Man Walking." The world premiere at the Dallas Opera was a smash; keep an eye out for the San Francisco revival in 2012.

Editor's Note: Moby Dick was conducted by PATRICK SUMMERS.

Yuja Wang (June 17-20) The dynamic young piano virtuoso finally gave local audiences all the keyboard magic they've been yearning for - a Poulenc-Stravinsky-Ravel triple-header with the San Francisco Symphony, followed by a solo recital for San Francisco Performances. That should hold 'em for a while.

Entertainment Weekly

2010's best stage shows

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1. The Scottsboro Boys (Broadway)

2. Red (Broadway)

3. Clybourne Park (Off Broadway/Washington, D.C.)

4. La Cage aux Folles (Broadway)

5. Gatz (Off Broadway)

6. Brief Encounter (Brooklyn/Minneapolis/Broadway)

7. The Orphans' Home Cycle (Off Broadway)

8. Fences (Broadway)

9. A Little Night Music (Broadway)

10. Stuffed and Unstrung (Off Broadway)

Detroit Free Press

Top classical performances: 'Tosca,' Hilary Hahn, DSO

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Jennifer Koh, violin. University Musical Society: In a virtuoso solo recital, the young American violinist completed a 300-year round trip, from Bach to Eugène Ysaÿe, Kaija Saariaho, Elliott Carter, Esa-Pekka Salonen and, finally, back to Bach. (March, Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor)

Bartok's "Bluebeard's Castle." University Musical Society: Pierre Boulez led the Chicago Symphony through Bartok's expressionistic one-act opera with revelatory clarity and sleek, pulsating intensity, elevating the fine lead performances by Michelle DeYoung and Falk Struckmann. (January, Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor)

Jazz Times

2010: The Year in Gigs

Nate Chinen reflects on the most memorable performances he saw during the year

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SFJAZZ Collective, Jazz Gallery, Oct. 22: This all-star confab never seems to disappoint, but here it more or less knocked me out, with ambitious but not overwrought revisions of Horace Silver music, and a few intrepid originals besides. Every member of the band brought his game, but the Coleman Hawkins moment, for me, belonged to the aforementioned Mark Turner, on "Triple Threat," a song by bassist Matt Penman. If you were in the audience and pulling a Savory that night, you know where to find me.

San Francisco Classical Voice

Top 10 Concerts of 2010

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Die Walküre, June 10

The San Francisco Opera unveiled the second episode in its new Ring cycle and it was a stunner. Staged by Francesca Zambello, conducted by Donald Runnicles, and featuring a splendid cast led by Mark Delavan in his second assignment as Wotan, the performance augured well for the future: expect a transcendent Wagnerian experience when the company mounts the complete cycle in 2011. (G.R.)

Miró Quartet, Music@Menlo Aug. 5

Multiple experiences with the Miró Quartet at last summer's Music@Menlo confirmed their excellence. Textures were optimally transparent in Edward Elgar's gorgeous Piano Quintet in A Minor, and the balance with Inon Barnatan's wonderful pianism was impeccable. Their performance of Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8 was beautifully played, and equally moving. I can't wait to hear them again at Music at Kohl Mansion on January 23. (J.V.S.)

Chanticleer, Dec. 9-23

Chanticleer's annual Christmas concert confirmed their pre-eminence among male vocal ensembles. The current blend is one of the warmest in memory, with clarity and roundness of tone trumping excessive sweetness. The singing was exquisite, the sound so beautiful that all you could do was close your eyes and bathe in the glow. Chanticleer continues strong under new Music Director Matt Oltman. (J.V.S.)

The Morning Call

Breathtaking performances among Top 10 concerts

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3. Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Ryo Goto (May 3, Williams Center)

Twenty-one year-old violinist Ryo Goto's performance of the Bruch violin concerto with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at the Williams Center at Lafayette College was ample evidence why he's considered a superstar in his native Japan. Goto played with a silken tone, velvety-smooth attacks, and underscored passion, appearing as calm and detached between musical phrases as if he were waiting for a bus. His encore, Variations on Paganini's Caprice No. 24, was as breathtaking as the Bruch, with lighting-fast arpeggios, rapid string crossings, and left-hand pizzicatos all taken in cool stride.

7. Yo-Yo Ma with Kathryn Stott (Oct. 23, Zoellner Arts Center gala)

Superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott demonstrated pure musical telepathy in their sold-out gala concert at the Zoellner Arts Center. Ma's very first notes of Schubert's "Arpeggione" Sonata seemed to come out of thin air, their silken tone perfectly matched by Stott's softly stroked keys. His supremely sensuous phrasing and intense lyricism, with Stott answering each gentle pizzicato with equally gentle caresses of her own, was remarkable - all with no eye contact. Their impassioned performance of the Frank A Major Sonata highlighted the musicians' easy rapport, with piano and cello following each other in a sensuous canon before concluding with energetic elegance, leaving a big, wide smile on Ma's happy face.

Daily Press

David Nicholson's top art events of 2010 Hampton Roads

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Anoushka Shankar. My personal favorite performance of the year was sitar player Anoushka Shankar, who gave an intimate performance on April 16 at the Roper Performing Arts Center. The daughter of famed sitar player Ravi Shankar, Anoushka played with passion and used amazing fingerwork, creating complex Indian musical selections with her ensemble of drum and string players. The concert offered a wonderful window on the music of another culture.

New York Magazine

The Year in Classical Music

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10. Jeremy Denk Plays Ives, CD; Think Denk Media
Charles Ives's Piano Sonata No. 2 bears the subtitle "Concord," which refers to the Massachusetts town but also upends the alternative: "Discord." Even the work's champions have had difficulty navigating the thickets of harmony, allusion, and eccentricity. Denk's balance of passion and precision makes its strange beauty come suddenly clear, without losing any of its improvisational radicalism.

The Boston Phoenix

Top 10 Classical Music Stories of 2010
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The Discovery Ensemble - a chamber orchestra made up of superlative young players, many just out of school - and its gifted music director, Courtney Lewis (now assistant conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra), have been offering some of the best orchestral music heard around these parts, in imaginatively conceived programs combining classical and modern music. Their notable achievement was capped by this year's towering performance of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony. The group have the noble mission of going into inner-city schools and exposing the kids, most of them for the first time, to classical music. Large adult audiences are only beginning to discover Discovery Ensemble's grown-up delights.

The Boston Globe

Jeremy Eichler's classical music picks
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THE NEWCOMERS:  Discovery Ensemble playing Prokofiev's "Classical" Symphony under Courtney Lewis...

TimeOut NY

The best (and worst) of 2010

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Jeremy Denk Plays Ives (Think Denk)
This fascinating pianist's debut recital CD was brash, intelligent and uncompromising-in other words, an accurate reflection of the artist who made it. More, please, and soon.

Yuja Wang Transformation (Deutsche Grammophon)
More than a flamboyant showcase for finger-busting chops, this bright young pianist's second album was also a sterling example of enlightened thematic programming.

The Age

1. 1910: A Miracle Year James Ehnes and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
2. Piano! Garrick Ohlsson plays Chopin
3. Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 Consort of Melbourne and La Compania
4. Quasi una fantasia Ashley Smith and Australian National Academy of Music Orchestra
5. Atos Trio Melbourne Recital Centre, November

The Austin Chronicle

Top 10 Dance and Classical Music Treasures of 2010


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4) MIRÓ QUARTET/LYNN HARRELL (TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS/BUTLER SCHOOL OF MUSIC) The chamber ensemble tackled Haydn and Schubert with characteristic vigor and feeling, but its reading of Philip Glass' String Quartet No. 5 was a revelation: epic yet deeply personal – an intimate quest.

10) MIRÓ QUARTET/ADAM HOLZMAN (AUSTIN CLASSICAL GUITAR SOCIETY) UT professor Holzman not only fit effortlessly into the Miró's chamber groove, but his richly expressive guitar added new colors to the sound of their strings.