Need a gift for the music lover in your life? Don’t miss KDFC’s My Favorite Things! We’re sharing our favorite albums from the past year, hand-picked from each host. It’s music we don’t want you to miss! See the lists below.

Jennifer Miller's Favorite Things


Lise Davidsen / Philharmonia Orchestra / Esa-Pekka Salonen
Lise Davidsen Sings Wagner and Strauss

Lise Davidsen has blown my mind. Her voice is raw power with such beauty. Her performances are intimate and vulnerable. And she’s so darn likable you just want to be her friend. This is my new go-to recording for some of the greatest soprano moments in the catalogs of Wagner and Richard Strauss.

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Inon Zur
Into the Storm

Earlier this year, Fallout and Dragon Age composer Inon Zur released his first album of original music on the Sony Classics label. The tracks are reminiscent of his work on Dragon Age, while exploring new melodic territory…and perhaps new fantastical worlds.

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Flavourworks
Erica

UK-based independent game developer Flavourworks quietly released their standout interactive film “Erica” this past summer. You take on the challenge of navigating the titular main character through a murder mystery involving the unsolved death of her father, the asylum he worked at, and a secret society of oracles. With an atmospheric score by Journey composer Austin Wintory, and many possible outcomes, this is entertainment you will come back to again and again.

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Isata Kanneh-Mason
Romance

This year, the music world celebrated 200 years of Clara Wieck Schumann…with surprisingly little fanfare. Which is why I was thrilled to see this album from British powerhouse pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason. Isata devotes this entire album to Clara’s arrangements and original compositions, performing them beautifully.

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Emi Ferguson and Ruckus
Fly the Coop

It’s so easy for Bach to sound the same, with recording after recording after recording…after recording. Which is why this album from Emi Ferguson and Ruckus was such a wonderful change of pace! For a fresh take on music written over 300 years ago, look no further.

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Dianne Nicolini's Favorite Things


Andreas Ottensamer, clarinet/Yuja Wang, piano
Blue Hour

For those of us who like the sound of clarinet and piano, here’s a nice collection of arrangements performed by two of the hottest classical performers around.

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Voces 8
Enchanted Isle

Voces 8 is a wonderful a cappella (mostly) singing group from the UK. In this release, they celebrate their homeland in folk music and contemporary pieces that evoke the beauty of England, Wales, and Scotland: the “Enchanted Isle”!

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Anne-Sophie Mutter
Across the Stars: Anne-Sophie Mutter Plays John Williams

These new arrangements of music from the illustrious output of film composer, John Williams were specially composed for the great German violinist, Anne-Sophie Mutter, and she really gets a chance to shine in all of them.

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Isata Kanneh-Mason, piano
Romance: The Piano Music of Clara Schumann

For her debut recording, pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason (Sheku’s big sis) released an album honoring the 200th anniversary of Clara Schumann’s birth. Selections include works for solo piano, piano and violin, and the Piano Concerto in a minor, featuring the Royal Philharmonic. This is a really nice tribute to a neglected genius.

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The Baltimore Consort
The Food of Love: Songs, Dances, and Fancies of Shakespeare

I’ve always loved the connection between Shakespeare and the music of his time. Sometimes we forget that his productions were replete with music. Here’s some of it, as performed by the impeccable Baltimore Consort.

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Robin Pressman's Favorite Things


Lara Downes
Holes in the Sky

Bay area pianist Lara Downes is masterful at turning out concept albums, and this year she produced two! The first on my list is Holes in the Sky. Celebrating women composers with a stellar all-female cast of musicians joining Downes in recording music by classical musicians like Florence Price, Jennifer Higdon, and Libby Larsen, but also songs of Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, and Billie Holiday.

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Lara Downes
For Love of You: A tribute to the 200th birthday of Clara Schumann

With the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, Downes plays Clara Schumann’s music, and a few pieces by Robert Schumann written for, or with the help of Clara.

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Sharon Isbin and the Pacifica Quartet
Souvenirs of Spain and Italy

Sharon Isbin is a stunning presence both on and off stage. Her partnership with the Pacifica Quartet playing music of Italian born composers sparkles right out of the speakers.

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Charlie Chaplin
Film Music Anthology

The secret of Charlie Chaplin’s artistic versatility is now out! Everyone knows him as an actor, beginning with “the Little Tramp,” and perhaps that he also wrote and directed his films. But, did you know that beginning in 1931 with “City Lights”, Chaplin wrote all his own film scores? This two-disc anthology includes all his subsequent film scores, along with scores for his late in life re-release of the early films.

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Emi Ferguson and Ruckus
Fly the Coop

Adding my high-five to the enthusiastic reviews of flutist Emi Ferguson and her band who mix their baroque instruments (theorbo, harpsichord) with electric keyboards and a room full of strings and winds. It’s high energy Bach with a beat. Check out videos of Emi and her band here.

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Rik Malone's Favorite Things


The Baltimore Consort
The Food of Love

Lively performances of music inspired by or actually used in Shakespeare’s plays. Great energy throughout – a real delight.

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Angele Dubeau and La Pieta
Pulsations

A mesmerizing album of short takes and film tracks from some of the best of today’s composers of melodic new music, like Olafur Arnalds, Ludovico Einaudi, and Max Richter.

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Isata Kanneh-Mason
Romance

This is just one of several discs that were released this past year to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Clara Schumann’s birth. This one is not only beautifully played, but it includes her rarely-recorded Piano Concerto, which was a model for the concertos by both Robert Schumann and Edvard Grieg, and which remains an astonishment, given that she was just 14 when she wrote it.

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Emi Ferguson and Ruckus
Fly the Coop

Fresh takes on Bach’s chamber music for flute, played with tons of energy and style.

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Philippe Quint, violin / Marta Aznavoorian, piano
Chaplin’s Smile

It’s wonderful that the music world is rediscovering the soundtracks that Charlie Chaplin wrote for his own films. The playing here is sweet and romantic, and the tangos are especially tasty.

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Alan Chapman's Favorite Things


Accademia Bizantina
Vivaldi: Concerti per Archi III

Bravo to this ensemble which is in the midst of recording hundreds of works by Vivaldi. The playing is magnificent.

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Keith Jarrett
J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1

As a lover of both classical music and jazz, I have long admired Jarrett’s jazz performances and I was well aware of his recording of Bach’s music. This release of a live performance recording of the same material after 30-plus years was one of the pleasant surprises of the year.

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Voces8
Enchanted Isle

I recently had the pleasure of hearing this English a cappella ensemble perform live and I realized the essence of their magic: a perfect blend in which each of the eight voices remains distinct. Their recordings are evidence of that magic.

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The Baltimore Consort
Food of Love

I’m a longtime fan of the group and I delighted in this compilation of music connected to Shakespeare’s plays.

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Emi Ferguson & Ruckus
Fly the Coop

There are so many fresh interpretations of Bach’s music that it takes something special to stand out and this offering by flutist Ferguson and friends does exactly that.

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John Van Driel's Favorite Things


Voces 8
Enchanted Isle

The latest example of a vocal group that is at least as great as the sum of its parts. Great ensemble performance with a distinct sound.

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Les Accents / Thibault Noally, violin
Bach & Co

I would consider this the best early music album of the year. Exciting and virtuosic performances.

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Daniil Trifonov, piano / Philadelphia Orchestra / Yannick Nezt-Seguin
Destination Rachmaninov

Danil Trifanov is certainly one of the great pianists of our time and this latest recording is one of the finest of the Rachmaninov Piano Concertos to date.

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The Baltimore Consort
Food of Love

The Baltimore Consort have been around for almost 40 years and each new recording sounds fresh and original. This is a fun early music romp through the time of Shakespeare.

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The Los Angeles Philharmonic
Celebrating John Williams

A magnificent tribute to today’s most beloved composer. And who better to play it than the members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra?

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Rich Capparela's Favorite Things


Yevgeny Sudbin
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Opp. 110 & 111 & Bagatelles Op. 126

This young Russian (39 years old) knows his Beethoven. We’ll be hearing from him for a long time.

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Bella Davidovich
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 – Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 & 14 Waltzes

This reissue of her Beethoven and Chopin was timed to celebrate the pianist’s 90th birthday.

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Trio Carducci
Arensky: Piano Trios

Arensky’s chamber music is simply brilliant and these performances by Trio Carducci do it justice.

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