Saturday, January 30, 2010

Nereffid's Guide Awards 2009: Classical Albums of the Year

I am delighted and proud to present the 2009 Nereffid's Guide Awards, celebrating the best classical albums of the past year. Hurrah!
Those readers who know me from the eMusic days will know that there have been 2 previous Awards, but this time round the selection isn't just confined to what's available from eMusic, which means a bigger and better group of winners and runners-up. And yes, I know there's no Nereffid's Guide anymore so it's something of a misnomer, but why mess with tradition?

How do I decide the winners? The results are based on reviews I've read from 7 sources: the print publications Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine, International Record Review, American Record Guide, and Fanfare and the web sites MusicWeb International and Classics Today. As best I can, I've identified the albums that get the most-positive reviews, and then all the data are fed into a giant sausage-making machine to produce a quasi-objective picture of the most critically acclaimed albums.

This year, there are 14 awards, with 1 winner and 4 runners-up each. I've treated each award in a separate post, so you can scroll down through the blog to see each one in turn, or follow these links:
Medieval & Renaissance
Baroque - Instrumental
Baroque - Vocal
Solo Instrumental
Solo Vocal
Opera Recital
Living Composer - Instrumental
Living Composer - Vocal

There is also an Afterword involving some vague musings about the whole thing.

In this past year I've engaged far more closely with the world of new classical recordings than ever before, and I've had a wonderful time. For all the fears - unfounded or otherwise - about the death of the recording industry, or CDs, or classical music, or whatever, the overall picture presented by the albums listed below, and the many other fine albums that didn't make the cut, is an exciting and hopeful one. There's a fascinating combination of the standard repertoire and the little-heard, performed by new artists and old favourites. I urge you to reward and encourage these musicians, and their labels, by buying a whole bunch of these albums.

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