Wait! Slow down. Let time stretch out. Enter the zone. Here are four CDs and one DVD to help you go time-traveling through the multidimensional world of classical music and opera.
"Nixon in China," John Adams (Nonesuch): It took nearly 25 years for Adams' masterpiece to make it to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. Now, straight from the Met's "Live in HD" series, here it is on Blu-ray and DVD (together in one package), newly issued by Nonesuch. Baritone James Maddalena is in the role of President Richard M. Nixon, who arrived in Beijing on Feb. 21, 1972, and set the world political order a-spinning. Adams conducts; his score is multigeared and multicolored, transforming like a kaleidoscopic engine. ($25, www.nonesuch.com/store)
"Requiem for a Pink Moon: An Elizabethan Tribute to Nick Drake," Joel Frederiksen (Harmonia Mundi): English singer-songwriter Nick Drake committed suicide in 1974, but classical musicians keep giving new life to his elegiac songs. Bass singer Frederiksen's disc is the best Drake project yet. With help from the Ensemble Phoenix Munich, he performs Drake's tunes, plus songs by John Dowland and other Elizabethans. They naturally sit in sequence; the record plays like really good pop-folk. And then there's Frederiksen's voice, which is reminiscent of Fred Neil's: deep, rich, warm and
"Duo," Helene Grimaud and Sol Gabetta (Deutsche Grammophon): Put on your headphones, close the door and soak in these direct-connection performances of Schumann, Brahms, Debussy and Shostakovich by pianist Grimaud and cellist Gabetta. Potent and thought-provoking, this disc carries an electric charge that exceeds the legal limit. ($14.38, www.amazon.com)
"Beethoven: 'Leonore' Overture No. 3, Symphony No. 7," San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor (SFS Media): The orchestra's impressive series of live recordings with Tilson Thomas -- of Mahler, John Adams, Charles Ives, et. al -- continues with this superb Beethoven disc, recorded in performance at Davies Symphony Hall in October 2010. There's freewheeling energy here -- you can feel it -- along with beautifully refined playing by the members of the orchestra, whose close listening is palpable. The Scherzo to "No. 7" is a real thoroughbred. ($18.98, www.shopsfsymphony.org)
"J.S. Bach: The Well Tempered Clavier, Books I and II," Andras Schiff (ECM New Series): Schiff moves with astonishing clarity through Bach's solo keyboard works. It's like looking into a bubbling stream, seeing all the crisscrossing rivulets -- and the tumbling stones at the bottom. The more I listen to these recordings, the more I'm mesmerized by them. ($39.99, www.arkivmusic.com)