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Roundup

Top 25 Classical Albums of 2014

by Seth Colter Walls

Top 25 Classical Albums of 2014

Playlist

About this playlist

Looked at a certain way, you'd almost be tempted to call this another Top Indie Albums of 2014 list. After all, you've got an album by the Copenhagen Phil that's built entirely out of symphonic pieces by members of Radiohead and The National (Jonny Greenwood and Bryce Dessner, respectively). This year, Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche also gave us his percussion-heavy suite, ADVENTURELAND. Meantime, Sufjan Stevens contributed a composition to the album Balance Problems, performed by the sextet yMusic.

But the argument against saying that indie has taken over the contemporary classical scene is, well, the sheer diversity of everything else on our plate this year -- including an album of orchestral works by Anthony Davis (a storied titan of avant-garde jazz going back to the 1970s). Plus, you've got a crew of star soloists -- including Lisa Batiashvili and Mitsuko Uchida -- attending to the legacies of Bach and Mozart. Some artists, like harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, ran the gamut this year by playing pieces from the English Renaissance as well as from the 20th century experimental canon on the same album.

If you've been following our monthly "classical" roundups, you already know that this is the genre that culls from the widest range of music-making history. So, regardless of whether you're more excited by the prospect of an ex-Shudder to Think frontman singing the vocals on a new post-rock song cycle by composer Jefferson Friedman, or by Maurizio Pollini's latest interpretation of Brahms, rest assured our playlist and albums list have got you covered. John Luther Adams' Pulitzer prize-winning, global-warming apocalypse Become Ocean? It's here. John Coolidge Adams' ripping Saxophone Concerto? Ditto. We've also got fresh new songs and concertos by Kate Soper, Erin Gee, and Unsuk Chin, as well as stirring performances of works by Stravinsky, Messiaen and other legendary composers from the past. So click play on our attached mix and start exploring one of the most stylistically diverse categories of music available. And see you next year!

1) Seattle Symphony Orchestra, John Luther Adams: Become Ocean
2) Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Anthony Davis: Notes from the Underground
3) Kate Soper, Voices from the Killing Jar
4) Unsuk Chin, Unsuk Chin: 3 Concertos
5) Jefferson Friedman, On In Love
6) Far Cry, The Law of Mosaics
7) John Adams, City Noir
8) Jenny Lin, J. Lin: Stravinsky (Solo Piano Works)
9) Louis Andriessen, La Commedia
10) Mahan Esfahani, Byrd / Bach / Ligeti - Wigmore Hall Live
11) Peter Hill, [La Fauvette Passirenette: A Messiaen Premiere, with Birds, Landscapes & Homages]
12) Erin Gee, Mouthpieces
13) Ralph van Raat, Frederic Rzewski: 4 Pieces, Hard Cuts & The Housewife's Lament
14) Darius Jones, The Oversoul Manual
15) Maurizio Pollini, Brahms: Klavierkonzert Nr. 2
16) Leon Fleisher, All the Things You Are
17) Vicky Chow, Tristan Perich: Surface Image
18) Lisa Batiashvili, Bach
19) A.Pe.Ri.Od.Ic, Jürg Frey: More or Less
20) yMusic, [Balance Problems]
21) Cornelius Dufallo Anna Clyne, The Violin
22) Mitsuko Uchida, Mozart: Piano Concerto No..18, K.456 & No.19, K.459
23) Copenhagen Phil, Bryce Dessner: St. Carolyn by the Sea / Jonny Greenwood: Suite From "There Will Be Blood"
24) Riccardo Muti, Riccardo Muti Conducts Mason Bates and Anna Clyne
25) Glenn Kotche, Adventureland

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