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Jonas Kaufmann's 'Nessun dorma - The Puccini Album' 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.

Jonas Kaufmann's 'Nessun dorma - The Puccini Album' received 8-10 votes in this pole.

Kaufmann made the news when he used his Facebook page to urge us not to buy a Puccini recycling effort put out by his former record company (Decca) to compete with this new recital. But he needn't have worried, as this new disc has thrilled critics around the world. Personally, I just plain love Kaufmann's voice, which is duskier than some famous tenors - it has been described as "mahogany" - and that is indeed a subjective thing, but wow, what an artist!

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