While there have been some fine releases this year, it would be silly to pretend that classical music recording is in good health. With a glut of cheaply remastered "classic" reissues from the past on the market, record companies prefer to put their money into pseudo-classical crossover releases rather than into fostering new talent. There is some good sense in this - why, after all, would record companies squander cash making new recordings when they will only end up competing with their own back catalogues? Sensible or not, this reluctance has a deadening effect on production, as while some excellent new releases struggle through, they are often of live performances rather than proper studio recordings.
Reports of the death of classical music on CD, however, have been much exaggerated. The stream of genuinely new albums may have slowed to a trickle (around 100 annually, compared with 700-odd 20 years ago), but there are still some fantastic new performances finding their way to public ears. With superb rediscoveries of lesser-known British music, great new recordings of this year's birthday boys Chopin and Mahler and some solid contemporary proof that brilliant scores are still being written, this year's releases proved anything but dull. Here is a round-up of some of the best.
Haydn: 12 London Symphonies. Les Musiciens Du Louvre-Grenoble conducted by Marc Minkowksi (Naïve)
This gutsy, playful take on Haydn's London symphonies has certainly ruffled the feathers of some conservative listeners, with words like "grotesque" and "vulgar" being bandied about in the classical blogosphere........