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Top Ten Early Music Discoveries of 2009

1. Gabriel Garrido and Ensemble Elyma

Out the many recordings I listen to every season, there are a few of which I listen to over and over again because of their unique qualities—terrific performances, fine repertoire, beautiful sound quality. Gabriel Garrido’s 2004 K617 release of music by Oaxaca Cathedral composers Gaspar Fernandes and Manuel Sumaya is perhaps one of their finest. The energy is captivating and electric.

2. Medieval Dances with Millenarium

Ensemble Millenarium’s 2008 Ricercar recording of medieval dances was a surprise discovery while looking through the label’s catalog. And while I’d never heard of them, I became an instant fan. Their approach in bringing to life the music had a life and groove of its own.

3. Handel's "Messiah" with The Sixteen

This is the third time that The Sixteen’s new Coro label release of Handel’s Messiah makes it onto the podcast. Simply put, it’s an excellent recording.

4. "Essential Purcell"

While putting together a two-part Purcell program this season, I came across a King’s Consort’s compilation recording on the Hyperion label entitled “Essential Purcell.” Drawn from the ensemble’s complete recording of Purcell’s music, the selections are stunning and live up to the title’s claim.

5. Geminiani/Corelli with Ensemble 415

Ensemble 415 is truly one the finest groups in all of early music. Their Zig-Zag label recording of Gemiani’s concertos after Corelli’s op. 5 sonatas is an intense and high-energy reading of some very beautiful music.

6. Renaissance Recorder Improvisations with Pierre Boragno

Pierre Boragno’s 2008 Zig-Zag label release of Renaissance improvisations inspired by Silvestro Ganassi is a bold and stunning approach to a repertoire that few ever tackle with such intensity.

7. J.S. Bach's complete flute music with Musica Ad Rhenum

Jed Wentz and Musica ad Rhenum were featured on the podcast not long ago, but I have to return to them because their new Brilliant Classics recording of J.S. Bach’s complete music for the flute is worth returning to time and time again.

8. Michel Chapuis and the organ music of Michel Corrette

Recorded three decades ago and re-released in the late ‘80s, Michel Chapuis’ Astrée recording of Corrette’s “New Book of Noëls” is a terrific performance of music one rarely hears outside of church. I discovered while looking for music for this season’s “Noel, Noel” program. Not only did it fit the bill, but it introduced to one the of the most interesting organists I’ve heard in a long time.

9. The Toronto Consort and the English Renaissance

The Toronto Consort’s Marquis label recording of Music for Elisabeth I is a lovely and poetic approach to music that’s often released. Luckily, the consort presented versions that aren’t readily available in addition to being beautifully done.

10. Debra Nagy and Les Délices

American oboist Debra Nagy and her ensemble Les Délices flew out of the starting gate with their debut release, The Tastes Reunited. I return to it because its beauty and excellent ensemble work draws you in on multiple listening.

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