Give comfort with these classical music gifts

Published December 16, 2013 9:00 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

After you read this, power off your computer. Set your smartphone to Airplane Mode. Then settle into a comfortable chair, turn out the lights and just listen to this classical music, closely. Final step: Give it to the people you really love.

"Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts, Volume 2" • From 1960 to 1972, the legendary conductor appeared on prime-time TV, explaining the joys and mysteries of classical music to millions of Americans. Here on nine DVDs are 27 episodes of Bernstein's lecture-concerts, as informative and entertaining as ever. This new box set completes the job begun with Volume 1 in 2004. ($134.99; http://www.amazon.com)

Double Bach • To say that J.S. Bach is timeless, grounding, miraculous — it's all true. Try pianist Jeremy Denk's new Nonesuch CD of the "Goldberg Variations," which comes with a DVD on which Denk (a terrific gabber) demonstrates and unravels the Goldbergs. ($16; http://www.nonesuch.com/store). Or try the new Bach CD by Chris Thile, of the Punch Brothers, who performs sonatas and partitas for violin in a nifty manner — on his mandolin. ($13; http://www.nonesuch.com/store)

Big-bang orchestra recordings • Top American orchestras keep releasing brand new Cadillac albums. This, for instance — San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor: "Beethoven/Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II, Symphony No. 2" (SFS Media, $18.98, http://www.shopsfsymphony.org). And this — Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, conductor: "Stravinsky/Stokowski/The Rite of Spring/Bach Transcriptions" (Deutsche Grammophon, $16.10, http://www.amazon.com). Or this — Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, James Levine, conductor, Evgeny Kissin, soloist: "Live at Carnegie Hall," works by Wagner, Beethoven, Schubert (Deutsche Grammophon, $13.78, http://www.amazon.com).

San Francisco Opera: "Moby-Dick" and "Lucrezia Borgia" • The West Coast's leading opera company recorded these two recent productions live onstage in high definition. "Moby-Dick," a spectacle, is an adaptation by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer of Melville's novel (EuroArts, $21.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, http://www.amazon.com). Donizetti's "Lucrezia Borgia" stars soprano Renée Fleming, who sparkles (EuroArts, $21.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray).

"Verdi at the Met" • Released to mark the 200th anniversary of the composer's birth, this new 20-CD box set includes a wealth of Metropolitan radio broadcasts, spanning four decades. "Aïda," "La Traviata," "Rigoletto" — these and other full productions have been restored and remastered to showcase many glorious voices: Richard Tucker, Jussi Björling, Leontyne Price, Grace Bumbry, Robert Merrill. (Sony Classical, $60, http://www.metoperashop.org)



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