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Charles Richard-Hamelin w/Les Violons du Roy - Mozart Piano Concertos makes CBC Music's 'Canada best classical albums of the year'

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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.


Charles Richard-Hamelin, Les Violons du Roy, Jonathan Cohen, Mozart Piano Concertos Nos. 22 and 24 (Analekta)


Hit play and bask in the golden aura emanating from these musicians who converged on Quebec City's Palais Montcalm to record this pair of piano concertos, chosen not only for their closely related keys but also their robust woodwind sections. Charles Richard-Hamelin's ease at the keyboard translates into seamless passage work, perfectly controlled dynamics and an uncanny symbiosis with conductor Jonathan Cohen and his orchestra, whether they're spreading Figaro-esque cheer in No. 22 or exploring the moody turbulence of No. 24. Hats off to the recording crew who captured these soulful performances so faithfully.