The alternative classical record of the year (and the worst)

Lebrecht Album of the Year:

Most critics pick their album of the year from the ones they reviewed over the past 52 weeks. This year, I’ve decided to choose from the ones I haven’t, the ones that for one reason or other failed to make the weekly cut….


Much to discuss before we get there, but here’s the shortlist:
Joyce DiDonato: In Peace and War (Warner) — a signature baroque program from an indispensable singer (no need to review the obvious). (iTunes)

Jerusalem QuartetBartók (Harmonia Mundi) — like it says on the tin: the harmonies of the world. (iTunes)

Daniil Trifonov: Transcendental (DG) — the title is no exaggeration. (iTunes)

Anna Netrebko: Verismo (DG) — believe it. (iTunes)

Carolin Widmann: Mendelssohn/Schumann violin concertos (ECM New Series). (iTunes)


And the winner is….

See here.

Oh, and the worst of the year….?

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  • The dullest orchestral playing… Brahms PC Buchbinder – VPO/Mehta.

    I agree – it really sounds dull.

    A big part of the problem is that the piano is so up-front and the orchestra too much in the back. It’s a badly balanced recording and I think the soundfolks are more to blame… I wish recording artists were more aware of these fauts and could have their say in the recording process..

    Potential buyers should have a listen first,

    • It is both ways. There are bad recording producers and engineers. But I know many cases, whe the performer has his/her say in the process and the result is awful. Usually the soloist wants his/her instrument big and up-front.

      • +1. I’ve seen first hand the effect of a powerful recording artist (or label, but far more rare) insisting on a balance which no engineer would wish for, and usually against all attempts to advise. Not just once, either. Usually there is a resolution which neither party is happy with, but avoids the extreme: sometimes even that isn’t possible.

  • The Patricia Kopatchinskaja/Teodore Currentzis Tchaikovksy concerto. Far and away the worst thing I’ve heard all year. Norman, did you have an opportunity to review that? I’d be curious what your take on it is.

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