Musical gift ideas: for new music fans


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New music is probably the hardest thing to shop for, but I have yet to find anyone who hasn’t fallen hard for David Lang’s “The Little Match Girl,” which has been beautifully recorded by Harmonia Mundi in surround sound.

The unpredictable John Zorn has come up with a winner with his “Music for Children” (Tzadik), which is more like new music from a happy alternative universe, where hard bopping, exuberant turn-tabling and visions of sugarplum fairies alternate. Lou Reed makes an appearance.


“The Minimalists” (Mode) offers scintillating Dutch performances of such classics as Terry Riley’s “In C,” Steve Reich’s “City Life” and John Adams’ “Short Ride in a Fast Machine.”

If you want the latest news from Europe, a six-CD set (Neos) brings together live performances from the 2008 Musica Viva festival in Munich, where angst is still very much in vogue.

But sooner or later, everyone will relish chill-out relief from the holiday madness. Christopher Hobbs’ dreamy but random “Sudoku 82” for eight pianos (all excellently played by Bryan Pezzone) is the perfect drug. Try it with eggnog.

-- Mark Swed

More CD and DVD picks:

Musical gift ideas: for the classicist

Musical gift ideas: for the romantic


Musical gift ideas: for L.A. lovers

Musical gift ideas: for opera mavens