So after an interval of seven years, I've decided to bring back this feature: Instead of writing extended discussions, as in most of the prior yearly features, I'm still not intending to write new reviews here at all, though. Rather, I'm simply going to recap the most notable items (from my perspective) to appear during the year, with the Remarks on Recent Recordings page still being the location for original reviews (as already written...) — & as supplemented by the (sometimes updated...) "comments" from my "personal lists."
So without further ado, here's that recap, notable recordings for 2021, in reverse chronological order by when I heard them:
I want to retain a simplicity to this page going forward, but the "reboot" involves, perhaps, a few complications to note:
Since I didn't do a write-up last year anyway, let me also recall Quinze as a 2020 release that only got reviewed in 2021....
This was the Josquin Anniversary year, and I intend a subsequent discussion around that theme, specifically. (And I'd committed to such a discussion before deciding to bring back the present page....) In the meantime, per the above list, my favorite of these releases — so far — has obviously been Josquin the Undead (& the rethinking it brings). And then subsequently, upon a rethinking of the general discography, the following items also fit the criteria for the above list, and should be included here as well:
I didn't actually review The Lion of Nobility, the 8th volume in the Orlando Consort Machaut Edition, but did (also obviously...) add it to my general recommendation for that series.
Perhaps it's also worth observing that, "despite" the Josquin year, there end up being two Dufay albums on this list... which seems to be coincidence.
So why am I returning to doing this write-up? Two basic reasons: I feel as though I've slowly taken some time back for myself over the past few years, and don't feel as pressed.... And it seems as though the greater distribution of medieval music performance approaches is hitting new levels, again with more to sort through: This isn't the same as the glory days of releases, with the fewer more "prominent" items actually seeming to become more conservative, but simply involves more possibility of enjoying more releases by niche groups that would've (presumably) found it more challenging to release albums to the public in the past....
And then, correspondingly, there's the question of Record of the Year: The Josquin Year kind of complicates the situation (again), but another reason for reprising this write-up now is that I was particularly impressed (& inspired) by the Zacara & Ockeghem releases, albeit for different reasons. The latter achieves a new performance standard for a central, virtuosic repertory item. The former opens up new musical vistas, less settled, but enough to reshape my view of the repertory of the very early 15th century.... So Missa Prolationum feels like a culmination, while Enigma Fortuna feels like a new opening.... I'm thus naming them co-Records of the Year.
To Recordings of the Years pageTodd M. McComb 4 January 2022 Update (for Josquin items): 21 January 2022