The Most Popular Classical Albums of 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Almost every week in 2012, we've been pleased to spotlight new recordings in our Album of the Week feature. Here are the year's most popular albums according to web traffic on

About the results: While we believe that all of the albums have strong inherent merits, we also noted that certain enticements drew listeners to the album pages. A free download track was a draw; so was an artist with a compelling personality or story. In some cases, the repertoire alone appears to have caught your attention. Read the list and tell us your favorite of the year in the comments box below.

1. Tine Thing Helseth: "Storyteller" (March 9)
The Norwegian trumpet player Tine Thing Helseth (pronounced Teen-eh Ting Hel-set) explores the trumpet's melodic potential with a collection of songs about love and loss by late Romantic composers (including Rachmaninoff, Sibelius and Grieg) as well as some mid-20th-century names (Weill, Korngold, Canteloube).

2. Anne Akiko Meyers: "Air: The Bach Album" (March 24)
Anne Akiko Meyers hatched the idea for her latest recording, titled, "Air, The Bach Album," after she purchased a rare violin, a 1697 Stradivarius called the "Molitor," for a then-record $3.6 million at an auction.

3. Canadian Brass: "Takes Flight" (January 29)
The Canadian Brass ushers in its 42nd year of performing with "Takes Flight," its first album featuring a retooled lineup.

4. "Classical Hits of the Cinema" (February 19)
A five-CD box set, "Classical Hits of the Cinema," reminds us that classical music has long been intrinsic in helping filmmakers tell stories, create characters and add atmosphere.

5. Nicola Benedetti: "Italia" (February 11)
After recordings of Romantic blockbusters and modern works, violinist Nicola Benedetti shifts gears for her latest album, a collection of Baroque concertos and chamber pieces by Vivaldi, Tartini and Veracini.

6. A Tribute to Fritz Kreisler (various artists) (January 15)
With the 50th anniversary of Kreisler’s death on January 29, Deutsche Grammophon gets into the act with this two-CD compilation, which contains six recordings he made between 1910 and the 1912, as well as reinterpretations from the DG catalogue by modern and past admirers.

7. Simone Dinnerstein: "Something Almost Said" (February 4)
Brooklyn pianist Simone Dinnerstein returns to a specialty for her latest album: the music of J.S. Bach. Also featured are Schubert's Four  Impromptus, Op. 90.

8. Bournemouth Symphony: "Verdi: Complete Ballet Music from the Operas" (April 11)
The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under José Serebrier makes a strong case for the complete Verdi ballet scenes: Otello, Macbeth, Jérusalem, Don Carlo, Aida, Il trovatore and I vespri siciliani.

9. Andras Schiff: Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier (September 30)
Pianist András Schiff has a new recording of Bach's iconic set of 24 preludes and fugues.

10. Tafelmusik: "The Gallileo Project" (March 18)
Baroque orchestra Tafelmusik has released a CD and DVD set of their multimedia show that celebrates Galileo Galilei’s inventions through music, space images and narration.

11. Alison Balsom: "Alison Balsom" (April 18)
Alison Balsom already has a greatest-hits album under her belt. The 33-year-old English trumpeter performs arrangements by the likes of Bach, Debussy and Piazzolla, plus contemporary works and traditional numbers. (This was also the most-purchased album of April through our affiliate partnership with

12. The Knights: "A Second of Silence" (April 1)
The New York chamber orchestra The Knights juxtaposes works by Schubert with those by Philip Glass, Morton Feldman and Erik Satie.

13. Paul Lewis: "Schubert Works for Piano, Vol. 2" (October 7)
English pianist Paul Lewis embarks on a recording cycle of Schubert piano music, the latest installment of which showcases the intimate Moments Musicaux and the epic Sonata in A minor, D. 845.

14. Two Lutes: Lute Duets from the England's Golden Age (July 29)
On "Two Lutes," the lutenists Ronn McFarlane and William Simms resurrect nearly 30 English Renaissance duets. (This was also the most-purchased album of July through our affiliate partnership with

15. Joshua Bell & Jeremy Denk: "French Impressions" (January 8)
In three significant French sonatas the violinist and pianist deliver performances of great elegance, poise and virtuosity.

For a very different measure of the year (and perhaps a different definition of "classical"), below are Billboard’s Top-Selling Classical Albums

1. “One Night in Central Park” - Andrea Bocelli
2. “Heavenly Christmas” – Jackie Evancho
3. “Christmas Symphony” – Mannheim Steamroller with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
4. “Wicked Game” – Il Divo
5. “Dream with Me” – Jackie Evancho
6. The Goat Rodeo Sessions - Yo-Yo Ma/Stuart Duncan/Edgar Meyer/Chris Thile
7. "Songs from the Silver Screen" – Jackie Evancho
8. "Il Volo" – Il Volo
9. "Il Volo Takes Flight"
10. "Fifty Shades of Grey: The Classical Album"


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Comments [3]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

BILLBOARD AND VARIETY USED TO BE DEPENDABLE SOURCES FOR OUTREACH TO PRODUCERS OF MOVIES, BROADWAY AND TV, BUT TODAY';S PUBLICATIONS ARE CATERING TO THE LOWEST POSSIBLE CULTURAL INITIATIVE INNOVATION, THE CURRENT FAD. BILLBOARD'S SELECTIONS ARE AT BEST ADEQUATE, BUT CERTAINLY NOT ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE REAL TALENT OUT THERE. IGNORANCE AND COMMERCIALIZATION ARE CONTROLLING WHAT THE PUBLIC SEES AND HEARS. THE BARBARIANS HAVE TAKEN OVER. In everyone there exists a knowing or merely absorbing judgment on people, places, food, ideas and the panoply of objects that surround ius from birth on. Osmosis features strongly In our prejudices, loves and hates. I have sung in opera, four SOLO Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall concerts [on Valhalla Records CDs], night clubs, radio and TV, singing in every format classical and pop, folk, rock, spirituals, blues, lieder, oratorio, requiems and operetta, but never entertained the notion of doing rap or country music or hip hop. Artur Rubinstein was asked why he did not play much modern music. He honestly repeated, "I don't feel it." That's my response to friendly requests for me to sing music that I do not relish performing. "Chacon a son gout" . I am a romantischer heldentenor. I have sung four solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall. As part of my Ten Language Solo Debut concert at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, I opened my three hour concert with the Invocazione di Orfeo from Jacopo Peri's opera EURIDICE composed in 1600, the first opera, composed in the same year as Shakespeare wrote HAMLET. It, and from the same concert, can be heard my singing Florestan's "Gott, welch Dunkel hier ! from Beethoven's FIDELIO and "Sound an Alarm" from Handel's JUDAS MACXCABAEUS in the live performance on my three websites,, ,, and It received rave critical notices in newspapers and magazines. My voice teachers were the legendary MET OPERA singers Alexander Kipnis, Friedrich Schorr, Frieda Hempel, Martial Singher, John Brownlee, Karin Branzell and Margarete Matzenauer. As an opera composer myself ["Shakespeare" and "The Political Shakespeare"] I fully comprehend the assumed urgency of recognition of the still living. I am the director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute in Boonton, NJ where I train actors in all the Shakespeare roles and big-voiced singers in all the Wagner opera roles. My singing of TRISTAN, RIENZI, LOHENGRIN, GOTTERDAMMERUNG SIEGFRIED, SIEGFRIED, SIEGMUND, WALTHER VON STOLZING PARSIFAL, ELEAZAR, FEDERICO, ORFEO and OTELLO can also be heard at RECORDED SELECTIONS on my three websites.

Dec. 29 2012 12:22 PM
Barry Owen Furrer

Hi Frank,
While Ms. Helseth's physical attributes are apparent, I urge you to check out her performance of Piazzolla's "Libertango" on YouTube as well as her other performances and you will soon see and hear she is "the goods" to borrow a line from "A League of Their Own." John Philip Sousa said "talent when combined with sincerity equals success" and I believe it true in her case. Heck, seeing Ben & Jerry's picture on the container never prevented me from enjoying the ice cream!

Dec. 22 2012 09:05 AM
Frank from UWS

I think we know why trumpet babe's album was number one.

Boy, though, that Billboard list is a real rogue's gallery of crossover pandering and exploitation. It makes me glad WQXR doesn't go in that direction!

Dec. 21 2012 09:19 PM

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About Albums of the Week

The Albums of the Week are compelling new recordings that we spotlight every week. These include creative repertoire choices, engaging musical personalities and artistic statements that stand out from the pack. You can hear the Albums of the Week throughout the day and evening on WQXR.