Has there ever been a year during which new albums were as vital to our survival as they were in 2020? CBC Music picks Canada best classical albums of the year, from solo piano to opera and everything in between
With concert halls shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the arrival of new music – along with quarantine videos and live streams – was the closest we got this year to the thrill of live performance. And while records will never replace the concert experience, we’re grateful to Canada’s classical musicians for the profusion of new music they continue to release for our enjoyment.
Of the scores of new classical albums that came out in 2020, here are the 20 that stood out to us. If you’ve got money to spend this holiday season, click on the album titles for information on how to purchase and download them. Canada’s classical musicians need your support more than ever.
While cellist Matt Haimovitz has been enjoying acclaim for his recent Grammy nomination for best classical compendium for Luna Pearl Woolf: Fire and Flood, we’re here to rave about his all-French recital album with pianist Mari Kodama that came out in early November. Debussy’s sonata, which can often seem like a bunch of disjointed episodes, is in their hands a coherent whole. Miniatures by Lili and Nadia Boulanger as well as the obligatory transcription of Gabriel Fauré’s “Après un rêve” show off Haimovitz’s creamy tone. He and Kodama seem to revel in the ever-shifting moods of Poulenc’s sonata, enjoying the humour and lively repartee, but also taking time to luxuriate in the lyricism.