This was a particularly fine year for fans of singing, which would explain why half of the list below features vocal music.
We had at least two promising debut CDs. Early in the year, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky released her all-Verdi disc, proving that she could soon become a top contender in the lyrico-spinto repertoire, very much in the Renata Tebaldi mold. And in October, the exciting Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo's debut disc gives hope to all who patiently wait for the next Pavarotti. He's got that Pavarotti "ping" in his voice.
It was also a good year for indie-classical, and especially New Amsterdam Records. The enterprising alt-classical label released several pleasing discs by young composer-performers who adroitly straddle the post-rock and classical genres.
But perhaps the most surprising release for me was Alexander Melnikov's two-disc traversal of the Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87 by Dmitri Shostakovich. His recording lifted a veil from these sometimes misunderstood, underplayed works. Melnikov's combination of intelligence, insight and amazing fingers pushes this album straight to the top.