The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: What were the best recordings of 2012? The critics have had their say. But what about the public? What were the most popular classical recordings of 2012? Ask iTunes and radio station WQXR. | January 10, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

Over the holidays, The Ear offered you a half-dozen or so lists of the Best Classical Recordings of 2012 as chosen by NPR critics, critics for the New York Times, Grammy nominations for 2013 and the New Yorker’s respected critic Alex Ross.

But what were the most popular, the best-selling classical recordings of last year? (Kind of like the 34th annual “People’s Choice Awards” for TV, music and movies that were announced last night. Here is a link to them

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-207_162-57563171/peoples-choice-awards-2013-taylor-swift-glee-stars-win-awards/)

Well, I just read that the top-selling Best Instrumental Album of 2012 digital downloads on iTunes was the debut by Leif-Ove Andsnes’ on Sony with “The Beethoven Journey” featuring the critically acclaimed and also best-selling Norwegian pianist as both soloist and conductor of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in Beethoven’s Piano Concertos No. 1 in C Major and No. 3 in C Minor. It is well-deserved honor (listen to the YouTube excerpts at the bottom), but there are so many great performances of those great concertos available. Those by Yefim Bronfman and Richard Goode are among The Ear’s favorites. (PS: for more of iTunes favorites, use this link: iTunes Best of 2012)

Andsnes

Leif Ove Andnes Beethoven 1:3 CD

But here is a list as compiled from other sources by the famed New York City classical radio station WQXR. It features actually two lists, one compiled from the station’s own Recording of the Week feature and web traffic, and the other compiled by Billboard magazine, which has a goofy and uneven sense of what constitutes classical music.

Take a look and see what appeals to you and how many of these you added to your own collection – or want to with those post-holiday gift cards and cash.

Also note that the chamber orchestra The Knights (below top) will be appearing in Madison as part of the Wisconsin Union theater series on Feb. 9 with acclaimed pipa player Wu Man (below bottom). (Similarly, pianist-blogger Jeremy Denk, whose Nonesuch debut CD with Beethoven and Ligeti made lists by NPR and Alex Ross, will perform again in Madison for the Wisconsin Union Theater on April 11.)

Here is a link to the WQXR lists of popular classical music:

http://www.wqxr.org/#!/articles/album-week/2012/dec/20/most-popular-classical-albums-2012/

the knights 1

Wu Man 1

And for reference here are the other lists offered by The Ear:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/11/ten-notable-classical-music-recordings-of-2012.html

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/classical-music-the-classical-music-nominations-for-the-2013-grammy-awards-can-provide-a-helpful-holiday-gift-shopping-guide-part-1-of-2-plus-the-uw-russian-folk-orchestra-and-madison-handbells-pe/

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/classical-music-the-classical-music-nominations-for-the-2013-grammy-awards-can-provide-a-helpful-holiday-gift-shopping-guide-part-2-of-2/

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/classical-music-here-is-part-2-of-the-ears-holiday-gift-giving-guide-featuring-nprs-top-10-classical-recordings-of-2012/

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/classical-music-here-is-part-4-of-the-ears-holiday-gift-giving-guides-to-classical-music-compliments-of-the-new-york-times/

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/classical-music-got-a-holiday-gift-card-or-christmas-cash-to-spend-here-are-the-choice-picks-of-classical-music-in-2012-with-an-emphasis-on-new-artists-niche-labels-and-smaller-name-perfo/


3 Comments »

  1. In order to have a classical music career, you’ll have to sell some CD’s and DVD’s. My observation of these popular items is that recording repertoire that is seldom heard, or brand new, or a re-setting of some sort seems to be THE way to attract listeners. Pianist
    Stephen Hough does this all the time. The only super-standard music on that whole list was Andras Schiff doing the WTC Bk. 1. Otherwise, it was music well off the beaten track, arrangements, or new music.
    MBB

    Comment by Michael BB — January 10, 2013 @ 8:56 am

    • Hi Michael,
      As usual, you offer a good interpretation of the overall trend behind the stats.
      Thank you.
      Jake

      Comment by welltemperedear — January 10, 2013 @ 9:12 am


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