For your consideration: the CDA ten best of 2015


Today marks the 354th day of 2015, and what a year it’s been.

There’s been too much chaos and controlled fury to assess what we went through. We survived, we had fun, let’s never talk about it again. You’re forgiven for not keeping tabs on great classical releases this year amidst the madness. That job is reserved for nerd critics and classical music fanboys and girls.

What follows are ten 2015 releases I’ll keep listening to in the coming year. They’re all aces, and they’re in alphabetical order.

  • John Luther Adams, Ilimaq. Don’t need to say much about JLA at this point. Composer at the height of his powers.
  • Bruce Brubaker, Glass Piano. Deep, thoughtful, meditative album to give Philip Glass skeptics (yo!) pause. (Here’s my album concept: playing Philip Glass while wearing Google Glass. I accept the GRAMMY right now.)
  • eighth blackbird, FILAMENT. Bryce Dessner (The National) is a respectable tunesmith. Murder Ballades is the centerpiece, and that says a lot with a lineup that includes Muhly, Lott & Glass.
  • Gabriel Erkoreka, Ensemble Recherche: Muraiki. The most obvious candidate on this list for a horror film soundtrack. Dark, eerie, and masterful.
  • Andrew Norman, Boston Modern Orchestra Project: Play. BMOP is a prolific outfit, and Andrew Norman’s Play is a perfect fit for the group. Madcap, exhausting, satisfying. Don’t believe me? This guy says so too.
  • Jodie Landau, wild Up: you of all things. Impressive album that splashes styles without self-consciousness, very lovely stuff. I think wild Up’s 2016 is going to be like Drake’s 2015.
  • Roomful of Teeth: Render. How do you follow up a monster album? With this of course.
  • Jordi Savall: Biber: Baroque Splendor. Savall musters Hespèrion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya AND Le Concert des Nations to take on Heinrich Ignaz von Biber’s daunting Missa Salisburgensis.
  • Anna Thorvaldsdottir, In the Light of Air. Nadia Sirota’s Meet the Composer podcast introduced me to Thorvaldsdottir. Dismiss her at your peril.
  • Julia Wolfe, Anthracite Fields. The Pulitzer committee wasn’t wrong. Magnificent music. Wolfe makes me excited the same way a first listen to Osvaldo Golijov did.

If you’re looking for a thoroughly-researched list generated with peerless classical knowledge, I suggest checking out Barney Sherman’s year-end list at IPR.

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