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Lara Downes - America Again makes IPR's 2016 Mega-Meta-List

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With no snafus, IPR's 2016 classical mega-meta-list gave its coveted "top choice of the year" honor to the breakout Let Me Tell You and correctly named the other albums that got 10 votes or more. But don't let anyone tell you that the meta-list picks the "best" albums, since there can be no such thing. The term "classical" covers music so inconceivably varied that any year's finest albums can't be ranked in a defensible way. The justification for a meta-list, then, is not to find the musical equivalent of the Koh-I-Noor diamond, but to cast light on as many gems as possible. This year, almost 70 albums reached the threshold of being chosen on four or more best-of-year lists, and gems they certainly are.  My first post on this (Part 1) covered the releases chosen by 10 or more lists; now, I'll cover the numerical "next tier" of albums in this post (Part 2), and in one more post to come (Part 3).

A quick recap: the 2016 mega-meta-list aggregated 70 "best classical of the year" lists from 27 countries, way more than in previous years. (They are listed here, and include votes from hundreds of music critics.) The expanded range might help us see global trends, but also might give undue prominence to releases from multinational conglomerates, since they can afford worldwide promotion and distribution. Indeed, with the exception of Let Me Tell You, the "top-tier" albums all came from Sony or Universal. By contrast, in the "second tier" list below, indie labels play as big a role as the majors.

COLLECTIONS THAT WERE MORE THAN THE SUM OF THEIR PARTS - LARA DOWNES, piano, America Again - Lara Downes (Sono Luminus 92207 8) - An Iowa favorite, Lara Downes has a rare skill: she knows how to make little-known music fascinating to ordinary listeners. The key has been innovative programs organized around themes we can all relate to. For this new recording, she took her title from Langston Hughes's Let America Be America Again. Her selections span a huge range of American genres and eras, some well known but much of it new or neglected. Anyone would find it engaging, and eight critics found it among the highlights of 2016. 

SEE FULL IPR Mega-Meta List