The best-of compilations that mark the end of each year can have the unfortunate side effect of relegating their contents to the past, treating them as relics that go into a shoebox in your closet marked “2008.” But if these are the best of what a year had to offer, they should be coming with us, getting played, heard, and talked about after the calendar flips. So here are some “bests” from the past year to take with you into 2009 and beyond.
Lee Hyla: Lives of the Saints/ At Suma Beach
Boston Modern Orchestra Project/Gil Rose - BMOP/sound
This recording brought back memories of a rapturous concert performance of Lives of the Saints from 2006, with these same forces. Hyla takes texts by saints Francis and Teresa and others and sets them ablaze in unusual colors and irregular rhythms. Mezzo-soprano Mary Nessinger sings, speaks, and shouts as if possessed. After years in Boston, Hyla decamped in 2007 for Chicago; this is a timely reminder of his importance, no matter where his home base is. It also whets the appetite for future releases from BMOP’s innovative label.