Is there such a thing as a 2020 record of the year?

Is there such a thing as a 2020 record of the year?


norman lebrecht

December 22, 2020

In a year unlike any other, records returned to the foreground of our lives as broadcasters floundered in the dark. Mostly old records, offering reassurance amid crisis.

Of the new ones, I listened to a lot of new work by living and recent composers

Scanning over 50 Lebrecht Albums of the Week, I believe the following releases stand the test of time in two senses – that they were oddly apt for this extraordinary year and that they can match the very best that the past can offer in flair and invention.

Here’s ten of the best.

1 Silvestrov’s 7th symphony

2 Babayan’s Rachmaninov

3 Christopher Rouse‘s 5th symphony

4 Shostakovich concertos

5 Víkingur Ólafsson


6 Penderecki’s Passion

7 Lutoslawski symphonies

8 Vaughan Williams Pastoral Symphony

9 Daniil Trifonov’s Silver Age

10 Berio’s Coro

Almost a vintage year, in fact.




  • Dmitri says:

    Hyperion should understand that State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia Evgeny Svetlanov is NOT a marketable name (re. the Shostakovich violin concertos). “Russian State Symphony Orchestra,” as it toured and recorded under Svetlanov himself in the last years, is fine.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    The REAL record of the year: the number of deaths from The Virus.
    I hope with all my heart that this year’s record will never be broken.
    Happy New Year, everyone – and stay safe.

  • Gustavo says:

    John Williams in Vienna of course – vintage!

  • Calvin says:

    Who is the lady in the picture?

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Record of the year:

    Beethoven: Works for Piano Four Hands.
    Peter Hill & Benjamin Frith.
    Label: Delphian.

    • microview says:

      My choice: RLPO/Petrenko Rossini-Respighi La Boutique fantasque – sparkling account in wonderful sound [Onyx label]

  • TheAnd says:

    Is this some sort of joke? A few pieces played at mezzo piano by someone from a trendy country does not a great album make.