The Most Popular Classical Albums of 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Each week in 2011 we've been pleased to feature new recordings in our Album of the Week feature. Here are the year's most popular albums according to web traffic on

Landing the number-one spot is Eric Whitacre, the composer whose lush and haunting choral music built a dedicated fan base and a particular online presence. Other highlights of the list include solo piano music (Simone Dinnerstein, Marc-André Hamelin and Gabriela Montero), solo guitar (Milos), plus orchestral favorites (Brahms’s German Requiem, Holst’s The Planets). Please tell us about your favorite album in the comments section below.

1. Eric Whitacre: Light and Gold (April 10)
    Shimmering pieces by the most recognized choral composer around. Similar to the music of Arvo Part and John Tavener, but with a West Coast twist.

2. Kate Royal: Lessons in Love (April 3)
    The rising British soprano arranges 28 songs into a first-person, thematic narrative that describes the stages of a young woman's first love: Waiting, The Meeting, The Wedding, The Betrayal.

3. Milos: Mediterraneo (June 12)
    This young guitarist from Montenegro presents a collection of solo pieces with a Mediterranean influence.

4. Julia Fischer: Mozart Violin Concertos (January 23)
    Mozart's works for violin and orchestra are not his most profound but German violinist Julia Fischer plays them with vivacity on this 3-disc set.

5. Simone Dinnerstein: Strange Beauty (January 9)
    The Brooklyn pianist goes looking for the expected patterns, the off-kilter rhythms and the mysterious and hyper-expressive sounds in Bach's music.

6. Music for a Royal Wedding (compilation) (April 24)
As the Royal Wedding held the public's attention in April, along came this collection of ceremonial music, featuring tracks from Walton’s Crown Imperial to Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4 to Arthur Benjamin’s Fanfare For A Festive Occasion.

7. Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin: Bach’s Art of the Fugue (March 19)
Bach's elusive masterpiece is heard in orchestrations that aim for maximum diversity and contrast.

8. Gabriela Montero: Solatino (January 9)
    This Venezuelan pianist offers inspired performances of 26 short, luminous works by seven Latin American composers.

9. BBC Philharmonic: Holst’s The Planets (March 24)
    Exciting readings of three pieces by Gustav Holst: his popular symphonic suite The Planets, along with the Japanese Suite and the Beni Mora Suite.

10. Albrecht Mayer: Bonjour Paris (February 19)
      Here's a rarity: an oboe soloist with a major-label recording contract. He offers this collection of popular melodies from the French repertoire

11. WQXR For the Holidays (compilation) (December 4)
      Our own pledge gift generated plenty of interest this December, with its assortment of carols and classical seasonal pieces.

12. Constantinople: Early Dreams (April 29)
      A collection of music by the Spanish composers whose works were popular in 17th- and 18th-century Mexico. The Montreal early-music ensemble adds sounds and textures from the Mediterranean, the Middle East and beyond.

13. Brahms’s German Requiem (June 4)
      Take a German orchestra, a Swedish choir, and two of today’s leading French singers, and bring them all under the baton of Estonian-American conductor Paavo Järvi.

14. Quatuour Diotima plays Reich / Barber / Crumb (Q2 Music) (October 25)
      The Diotima Quartet delivers a trio of American works from the last century, painting a varied portrait of our age-old new-music scene.

15. Marc-André Hamelin: Etudes for Piano (January 14)
      The urbane French-Canadian pianist harkens back to the nearly bygone tradition of pianist-composers capable of improvising spectacular variations on a given tune with his own set of Etudes.


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Comments [5]

uwe bartsch from usa

qxr is the only station left with good classical music we have many great composers i prever to play them and then play some new ones now and then there are no mozarts or beethoven today not in the classics

Dec. 31 2011 02:19 PM
normancanter1 from New York City

In the absence of Beethoven Symphonies... Mozart Piano concerti...Vivaldi concerti....Shostakovitch.....Bach Oratorios and Cantatas for instance....why bother compiling a list?

Dec. 30 2011 12:16 AM
Michael Meltzer

Mary: WQXR means “popular” to mean “favorite.” They imply it, and they say it outright.
By the way , I see that in the item description, WQXR puts Whitacre on a level with John Tavener. I totally agree.
I think that’s very funny!

Dec. 26 2011 09:31 PM
Mary from Nebraska

"Popular" doesn't mean best. It just means it got the most traffic.

Dec. 26 2011 03:59 PM
Michael Meltzer

Counting “web traffic” is not taking a poll, it is editorially stacking the deck. I contributed quite a bit to the Eric Whitacre commentary and everything I said was UNfavorable. I often noted that I was not alone in my opinion.
I don’t think anyone else on your list attracted a much negative attention, and I suggest that if you really evaluate the web traffic, one of the runners-up is the REAL winner.
My own vote would be for Montero, with Dinnerstein and Hamelin close enough after to call it a three-way tie. It's just that the Montero is refreshingly different, as well as being wonderfully good.

Dec. 26 2011 03:53 AM

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