What a year it's been. I'll share my Top 10 Shows list as soon as it runs in Time Out Chicago's Dec. 29 issue, but for now I'll just say that it was a fun year, filled with Boulez and Barenboim on the Chicago Symphony's podium and Bryn Terfel at the Lyric Opera, along with a host of pleasant surprises, such as the Steans Institute. TOC launched, providing me with an outlet/soapbox, which I've taken full advantage of, I think, and plans are in the works to continue working towards world domination.
Last minute gifts, you ask? Well, okay. I'll jump on the bandwagon and recommend Janine Jansen's thrilling-as-all-get-out recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Her technical polish and willingness to go for the jugular are a most-welcome addition to the CD shelves.(She's Dutch, too, which means she's automatically a wonderful person, though possibly a cheapskate. Those habits don't die when we leave the Old Country, alas.) I've been excerpting the thing all over the place, so you should have bought it, but if you haven't, go get the Penguin Companion to Classical Music. $25, so it's way less than the Grove Dictionary on sale, and still less than Taruskin's Oxford History of Western Music.
For 2006, I wish all of you a warm body to snuggle with, financial security and good health for you, your friends and your families. I'll be back here sometime after the new year, with more and more news from Chicago and the occasional smack-down. Hopefully more of the former than the latter.