6 BEST STAGED OPERA
Intermezzo Chamber Opera has been specializing in brand new work, but its most successful efforts have been revivals of neglected 20th-century masterpieces. This year, my favorite fully staged opera was Intermezzo’s elegant low-budget version of Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River. It didn’t hurt that the superb cast, veteran music director James Busby, and young stage director Andrew Ryker got expert advice from Colin Graham, the gifted British director who staged the original production under the supervision of the composer.

7 MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
Of the many memorable new works performed this year by our excellent new-music groups, my favorite — no surprise to me — was the exquisite new choral piece by John Harbison, But Mary Stood (about Mary Magdalene), commissioned by the Cantata Singers and led by David Hoose with touching fervor.

8 BEST CHAMBER PERFORMANCE
The apple of my ear was Russell Sherman’s Mozart 250th-birthday survey with Emmanuel Music, and especially the poignant Wind Quintet in E-flat, in which he was joined by some extraordinary Emmanuel wind players: oboeist Peggy Pearson, clarinettist Bruce Creditor, horn player Neil DeLand, and bassoonist Thomas Stephenson. They practically turned this heavenly chamber piece into another Mozart opera.

9 BEST KEYBOARD CONCERTS
Pianist David Deveau (and chamber-music-playing friends) began the New Year with a Bank of America Celebrity Series Boston Marquee recital that ran an exhilarating gamut from classic Haydn to Romantic Liszt to modernist Webern to contemporary Peter Child. And composer Frederic Rzewski delivered an engaging and — especially in his “melodrama” based on Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis — moving solo recital at the Boston Conservatory of his own challenging and surprising music.

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BEST VOCAL RECITAL: Austrian mezzo Angelika Kirchschlager’s was one of them.
10 BEST VOCAL RECITALS
Hard to choose between two superb but very different mezzo-sopranos. Delores Ziegler, in a concert presented by Richard Conrad’s the Bostonians, sang tender, unaffected, intimate Schumann, sensitively accompanied by her NEC colleague John Greer. Nothing — least of all ego — comes between Ziegler and what she sings. And in a Bank of America Celebrity Series appearance, the glamorous young Austrian mezzo Angelika Kirchschlager (superbly accompanied by Malcolm Martineau) offered an international variety of art songs. Both these events were true lieder recitals, presenting great songs beautifully, honestly, and with no gimmicks. Maybe it’s not a dying art.
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