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Andris Nelsons' 'Shostakovich Symphony No. 10' Makes Iowa Public Radio's 2015 Mega-Meta-List

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Today's output of classical albums is (pardon me while I scribble on the back of an envelope) something like triple what it was a generation ago. I won't vouch for that exact ratio, but I will for Anne Midgette's description of how it feels: "Keeping up with the stream of new releases is like trying to drink from a fire hose." Now imagine trying to capture a hose's jet-spray in a bucket, and you'll see why making a classical "best-of-year" list in 2015 struck many writers as a thankless task, even a hopeless one. Yet that didn't stop more of us than ever from trying - perhaps enough of us to be called a crowd. Could that crowd, taken together, have some kind of collective wisdom?

That was more or less the premise behind my "Classical Mega-Meta-List" last year (inspired by economist /blogger Tyler Cowen). I tallied every "best of year" list I could find - a total of 36, comprising about 100 writers.  This year I found far more: 64 lists, with at least 160 contributors, which makes this year's meta-list 60-77% more mega. It's not surprising that almost twice as many releases made the final cut, defined by being chosen for more than three best-of-year lists. Last year, 28 albums reached that threshold; this year, 50 albums did. That's a 78% increase.

Andris Nelsons' 'Shostakovich Symphony No. 10' received more than 12 votes in this pole.

When classical music was thought to be on life support, premature obits mentioned that major American orchestras no longer had contracts with the top international  labels. But not only do American orchestras outnumber European ones in this year's mega-meta-list, they also make the Top Five twice with recordings on the most major of labels, Deutsche Grammophon.  The Boston Symphony Orchestra sounds as golden as it did back in the day, and this performance of Shostakovich's greatest symphony is for the ages.