Music Critics Survey the Best of 2011

At the top of the recording heap this year is Hilary Hahn and Valentina Lisitsa, who recorded Charles Ives “Four Sonatas” for Deutsche Grammophone. This CD appeared on the year end lists of Time Out, The Awl, The Washington Post, NPR, and the Culture Desk of The New Yorker, where you can hear an audio excerpt.

(Deutsche Grammophon)

Next up is Marc-André Hamelin, who was a favorite on both recording and performance year-end lists. Hamelin’s well-rounded, virtuosic performances often include his own works; lately, they’ve been any of his own collection of 12 etudes in minor keys. Hamelin recorded the Études on the Hyperion label this year.


The original album art for WTC 9/11 seemed to be more infamous than the music when it was initially released on Reich’s longtime label Nonesuch. But this recording made impressions well beyond the eventually-altered cover image, showing up as a year-end favorite of NPR’s Anastasia Tsioulcas and the Washington Post's Anne Midgette.

(Nonesuch Records)

Jospeh Calleja’s album, The Maltese Tenor, was praised by both Time Out and NPR for his unique, easily identifiable timbre. This is the third solo record by Calleja, who was recently featured on WQXR's own Operavore blog.

(Decca Classics)

Meredith Monk, a pioneer of the avant-garde vocal scene, released Songs of Ascension, a spatial work that involves the Montclair State University Singers, among others. An approachable introduction to her work, which was noted by Anne Midgette and others.

(ECM Records)