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Recordings Of The Year 2009

This is the seventh year that Musicweb International has asked its reviewing team to nominate their recordings (or music books) of the year. Reviewers are not restricted to discs they had reviewed, but the choices must have been reviewed on MWI in the last 12 months (December 08-November 09).

139 selections have come in from 29 members of the team, reflecting a remarkable diversity of music: all periods and style of music are well represented. Demonstrating the health of the classical music industry when many are saying the opposite, is the observation that the selections come from 70 different labels.

The spread of choices is much wider than 2008, when 14 recordings were selected twice - this year, there are only half that number:
•  Edward German's Tom Jones on Naxos
•  Volume 11 of The Cardinall’s Musick Byrd Edition on Hyperion
•  the complete Haydn symphonies in mp3 format on Nimbus
•  Handel's Alcina on Archiv with Joyce DiDonato
•  choral music of William Mathias on Hyperion
•  Bernstein's Mass on Naxos (the Chandos recording of this also had one entry)
•  the very new Winterreise on Harmonia Mundi with Mark Padmore & Paul Lewis

As in 2008, Naxos is Label of the Year, with 18 nominations. While this is obviously helped by the number of Naxos recordings we review, it must also be said that if they weren't any good, they wouldn't have been chosen here. Chandos (12) and Hyperion (9) were next, with last year's runnerup - DG - falling to a single nomination.

Appropriately for the 200th anniversary of his death, the Composer of the Year is Joseph Haydn with six nominations.

Click on cover image to read the full review.

Gustav MAHLER The Complete Symphonies New York PO, London SO/Leonard Bernstein rec. 1960-68 SONY CLASSICAL SX12K89499

Those of us of a certain age will have learnt our Mahler through the recordings of Bruno Walter and Leonard Bernstein and I still recall the thrill the Bernstein Third gave me in my days as a student. I was never able to afford to collect all the rest of that cycle but bought my recordings piecemeal. I have always treasured that Third and it was a total delight to discover it anew with all the other symphonies in this brilliantly remastered edition. Tony Duggan's erudite review is not to be missed as it carries copious sound samples.
Jean SIBELIUS The Sibelius Edition – Vol.1 – Tone Poems Helena Juntunen (soprano) Göteborgs Symfoniker/Neeme Järvi, Lahti SO/Osmo Vänskä BIS BISCD1900/02

BIS, Vänskä and Järvi approach this momentous project with freshness, vigour and a poetry completely in sympathy with the Sibelian voice. There's nothing of the bleached academic exercise this could so easily have been. Not merely historic but deeply satisfying as a musical experience. The most important series of 2009.

William MATHIAS Choral Music Jonathan Vaughn (organ) Wells Cathedral Ch/ Matthew Owens rec. 2008 HYPERION CDA67740

I chose this ahead of the other six double-nominated recordings, because neither of its nominations came from the reviewer who had lauded it in July when it was awarded a Recording of the Month.



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