Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Times' 10 best classical albums of the noughties

With fewer than 50 days left before the end of the decade everyone's been getting all listy. I was wondering how or even why anyone would come up with a "best classical albums" list, because more so than other genres (what with the concept of repertoire as opposed to original music) it would seem wholly arbitrary. But The Times has gone with a top 10 for new music, which makes things easier.

10. Violin Concerto/Rocana by Unsuk Chin (Analekta)
9 Ayre by Osvaldo Golijov (Universal)
8. Violin Concerto by Thomas Ades (EMI Classics)
7. Book of Hours by Julian Anderson (NMC)
6. The Veil of the Temple by John Tavener (RCA Red Seal)
5. Clarinet Concerto by Magnus Lindberg (Ondine)
4. Chiffre-Zyklus by Wolfgang Rihm (CPO)
3. St John Passion by James MacMillan (LSO Live)
2. Notes on Light/Mirage/Orion by Kaija Saariaho (Ondine)
1. Doctor Atomic Symphony by John Adams (Nonesuch)

I've heard the Anderson and the Lindberg, a bit of the Saariaho, Golijov, and Ades, and the Adams opera on which the symphony is based. Heh. The article offers 2 alternative descriptions of Golijov: "joyous blending of global traditions" and "cynical schmaltz". I veer toward the latter but I haven't heard enough of his work yet. I certainly preferred the Anderson to the Lindberg, I was highly impressed by Doctor Atomic, and I know I want to hear the rest of the Saariaho. Ades is a composer I try to like but don't always. MacMillan's one of my favourites, Taverner certainly has his moments, I know nothing of Chin, and I have a vague suspicion that I might not like Rihm.
The list seems pretty safe (I don't mean that as a bad thing necessarily) and dare one say even accessible. I'm not qualified to say how "right" the list is. But I thought On the Transmigration of Souls was supposed to be the Adams "hit" of the decade?

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