The chamber works of Chinese composers Zhou and Chen mingled Eastern and occidental music with instruments in fascinating and beautiful ways. Min Xiao Fen, one of the finest soloists of the pipa (Chinese lute), gave an unforgettable performance.
2. The Oregon Symphony: Requiem at Terezin (April 20).
Rafael Schächter's performances of Verdi's Requiem Mass at the Terezin concentration camp in 1943-44, and Schächter himself, deserve a prominent place in musical and world history. Oregon Symphony associate conductor Murry Sidlin had the vision to honor Schächter and all who performed and suffered with him.
3. Portland Opera: Il Trovatore
Despite gaudy costumes and set (from Minnesota Opera) plus overwrought direction (courtesy of Christopher Mattaliano), Portland Opera's production of one of Verdi's most famous potboilers completely fulfilled opera's primary mission: to enrapture the senses with music, drama, color and glorious implausibility. Conductor Richard Buckley managed to make his orchestra deliver both passion and perfection in equal measure.
4. Portland Baroque Orchestra: Genius Undiscovered (Nov. 8).
Just when you think you've heard all the greats (and the not-so-greats) of the Baroque era, a hidden genius like Count Unico van Wassenaer crops up with his gorgeous 1740 Concerti armonici. It makes one wonder what else is buried in Flemish castle attics. Portland Baroque Orchestra, headed by the exuberant violinist and artistic director Monica Huggett, has both the excellent taste and the courage to perform music that isn't Vivaldi's Four Seasons or Pachelbel's Canon in D and make a resounding success of it.
5. The Oregon Symphony and
Carlos Kalmar (Dec. 7).
I've been listening to the Oregon Symphony for several years and have never heard such tight ensemble, crisp phrasing and overall radiance as when music director-designate Carlos Kalmar took them through the dancing paces of Schumann's Symphony No. 1 earlier this month. Kalmar hasn't even taken the reins of the OS yet, but he's already doling out masterful performances.