Several violinists made the cut this year, with great work laid down for posterity by Vadim Repin, Alina Ibragimova, Jennifer Koh, and Christian Tetzlaff. Hats off to violist Kim Kashkashian, too, for her passionate yet understated recording of Spanish songs. Previous lists are in the left-hand column, and links to retailers are provided. The industry may be in decline, or it may not be growing in an era of downloads, or maybe it's growing and we in the classical world just can't wrap our heads around such a concept, but the larger point is that recordings of supremely high quality continue to be made. The envelope, please...
2. Mark Padmore. Handel: As Steals the Morn. Tenor arias with the English Concert, Andrew Manze, leader (harmonia mundi) Arkiv, B&N. Tenor Padmore's deft, unassuming delivery makes this one highly recommended.
Alina Ibragimova. Karl Amadeus Hartmann Concerto Funebre, Solo Violin
Suites and Sonatas. With the Britten Sinfonia, Jacqueline Shave, leader
(Hyperion) Arkiv, B&N. No violinist made a stronger first impression this year, combining an exquisitely pure tone with a keen intellect.
5. Vadim Repin. Beethoven Violin Concerto and "Kreutzer" Sonata. With the Vienna Philharmonic and Riccardo Muti, conductor, and Martha Argerich, piano (Deutsche Grammophon) Arkiv, B&N. Repin's clear-eyed approach to both works pays huge dividends, and the velvety Vienna Phil is superb. Also noteworthy is the boxing match "Kreutzer" between Repin and Argerich.
Jennifer Koh. Schumann Violin Sonatas with Reiko Uchida, piano (Cedille) Arkiv, B&N. These dark works benefit from Koh's thoughtful approach. Uchida is a little too reserved, but that's not a deal-breaker.
9. Kim Kashkashian. Asturiana with Robert Levin, piano (ECM) Arkiv, B&N. Violist Kashkashian and pianist Levin laid down the feel-good classical album of the year, though there's a current of sadness running through it all the same. Falla's Seven Spanish Songs have a deep grace.
10. Takács String Quartet with Stephen Hough, piano. Brahms Piano Quintet and String Quartet No. 2 (Hyperion) Arkiv, B&N. The warmth of this quintet plays well with the Artemis and Andsnes's fiercer approach, and their romanticism positively glows.
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. Wigmore Hall Recital (Wigmore Hall).
Grand Valley State New Music Ensemble. Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians (Innova).
Isabelle Faust. Beethoven Violin Concerto and "Kreutzer" Sonata with the Prague Philharmonic and Jiri
Belohlavek, and pianist Alexander Melnikov (harmonia mundi).
Ralph van Raat. Complete Piano Music of John Adams (Naxos).
Rene Jacobs's Don Giovanni. (harmonia mundi).
Viktoria Mullova. Bach Violin Sonatas with harpsichordist Ottavio Dantone (Onyx).
Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Mahler's Symphony No. 3 with conductor Bernard Haitink (CSO Resound).
Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 with Haitink (CSO Resound).
Daniel Barenboim. Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas, 6 DVDs (EMI).
Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Claudio Abbado, 5 DVDs (EuroArts).
Harmonia mundi, 50th Anniversary Box Set, 30 CDs (hm).
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM, 448 pages (Granta).
BIS's 15-CD Essential Sibelius (BIS).