CreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times
Our critics and reporters offer a glimpse of what’s moved and delighted them on YouTube. Read the rest of our classical music coverage here.
AT 2 MINUTES 34 SECONDS
Villainy and Madness
When a friend visited New York in November, he said he would be sure to return after the Metropolitan Opera’s new “Tosca,” which had already lost its star soprano and tenor, had its premiere on New Year’s Eve. “At least Bryn Terfel is still singing Scarpia,” he said. Then Mr. Terfel left the production. (The reason was “enforced rest due to vocal fatigue.”) But YouTube offers a glimpse of his Scarpia, like here in London, where he performed the “Te Deum” at the end of Act I with a brilliant balance of self-satisfied villainy and madness. At one point, Scarpia takes over Puccini’s love theme for Cavaradossi and Tosca as he sings, “One to the gallows, the other to my arms.” Mr. Terfel, fists clenched and eyes wide, is downright terrifying. JOSHUA BARONE
Read more about the Met’s vexed “Tosca.”
See how the company built the massive production.
And listen to 10 highlights from the greatest “Tosca” recording ever.
AT 20 seconds
Sonya Yoncheva will be taking on the title part in “Tosca,” one of the storied pinnacles of the soprano repertory, for the first time at the Met on New Year’s Eve — the latest in a series of ambitious role debuts she’s made in New York. Here is a first glimpse of her singing the great aria “Vissi d’arte” with handsome tone and clear, restrained feeling. I especially love a line near the start as she says that she’s never harmed a living soul (“non feci mai male ad anima viva”). The irony, in light of the murder she’s soon to commit, is evident in the dreamy darkness of her tone, fading to nothing at the end of the line. ZACHARY WOOLFE
at 2 minutes 50 seconds
In Callas’s Hands
No singer explored the possibilities of Tosca, and “Tosca,” more seriously than Maria Callas, and one of the painfully few clips of her in staged opera is this, her face-off with the classic Scarpia of Tito Gobbi in Act II. It is a performance of unbelievable freshness and commitment; moments hackneyed coming from almost any other artist (like the devout Tosca’s sudden idea to put mourning candles on either side of Scarpia’s dead body) are in her hands deeply human. In fact, her hands are what I’d like to focus on. Watch, in this moment, how articulate with fear they are, pressed against her pelvis, as she listens to Scarpia give orders to his underling. Then look (at 5:30) at one of them tensed atop a wine glass as she realizes she’s about to commit a murder, and her hands (at 7:20) grasping desperately for cleanness after she drops the knife. From our greatest singing actress, truly an operatic performance you can appreciate with the sound off. ZACHARY WOOLFE
AT 3 MINUTES 30 SECONDS
Fiddler on the Brink
In the current issue of The New Yorker, James B. Stewart follows Eric Sun — a Silicon Valley tech whiz in his mid-30s, who died in November — on his 14-month race against glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. Mr. Sun used the time to try to master the violin, which he had studied as a child, working up to music of Bach, Mendelssohn, Ysaÿe and Brahms. His last public performance was in a production of “Fiddler on the Roof” this fall, with the Sunnyvale Community Players in California. At one point he leaves his seat at the head of the orchestra to take center stage, in costume, with the cadenza John Williams added in his reorchestration of Jerry Bock’s score for the film version of the show. The performance, though understandably imperfect, is deeply moving. JAMES R. OESTREICH
AT 6 MINUTES 2 SECONDS
In the wee hours of Friday morning, the composer Caroline Shaw tweeted “JOHNNY GANDELSMAN’S BACH IS NEXT LEVEL.” She was sharing a link to Mr. Gandelsman’s Facebook page, where the Brooklyn Rider violinist is in the playing one movement of Bach’s sonatas and partitas per day for 31 days on Facebook Live. These videos are fascinating in part because of their intimacy — Mr. Gandelsman has been playing in front of the Christmas tree in his apartment while wearing T-shirts and hoodies — but also because of their candor. The environment suits his interpretation, which is special for its modesty. In this video of the Third Partita, from the Greene Space in 2014, Mr. Gandelsman’s playing is refreshingly unadorned and soft, with the friendly warmth of a recital in his living room. JOSHUA BARONE
AT 4 SECONDS
A Russian Toast
Steven Fox and the Clarion Choir, early-musickers who like to start a new year with music for the Russian Orthodox Church, will join the PaTRAM Institute Singers (of the Patriarch Tikhon Russian-American Institute) in an early-evening program of works by Kastalsky, Rachmaninoff and others on Sunday and Monday. Mr. Fox and Clarion established their bona fides in this repertory in 2014 by helping to unearth Maximilian Steinberg’s all-but-unknown masterpiece “Passion Week,” which they later took to Moscow. Here is their performance of a movement from that work, “Arise, O God, and judge the earth”: For the novice, as good an introduction to Russian Orthodox music as any, and it should be downed whole, like a shot of fine vodka. JAMES R. OESTREICH
at 2 minutes 12 seconds
Puzzling Yet Inevitable
In 2015 the brilliant Finnish conductor Susanna Malkki made an exciting (and woefully overdue) debut with the New York Philharmonic, and the following year she made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera. Ms. Malkki returns to the Philharmonic next month (on Jan. 11 to 13) with an enticing program: Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, Esa-Pekka Salonen’s “Helix” and Debussy’s “La Mer.” Last September, she led the Berlin Philharmonic in a no-nonsense, vigorous performance of Sibelius’s Second Symphony. (This engrossing video shows only an extended passage of the final movement, though the clip includes a link to the entire program.) In the moment when the music suddenly seems to turn inward, Ms. Malkki somehow makes the shift seem simultaneously puzzling and inevitable. ANTHONY TOMMASINI
Read our 2015 profile of Susanna Malkki.
at 6 minutes
Speaking of the Philharmonic, the superb pianist Leif Ove Andsnes continues his artist-in-residence series at the orchestra with performances of Britten’s Piano Concerto in February. (I wish I could explain why such a vibrant, inventive piece is so seldom performed.) Mr. Andsnes spent several recent seasons devoted to his “Beethoven Journey,” which involved performing and conducting that composer’s five concertos around the world. I listened again to a kickoff event for that project in 2013, when he appeared at WQXR’s Greene Space, performing, among other works, Beethoven’s great but overlooked Sonata No. 22. Listen to the way he plays the opening of the sly, perpetual-motion second movement, giving crucial notes a little extra nudge to their tones linger amusingly. ANTHONY TOMMASINI