Stories » Renee Fleming & Emerson String Quartet's 'Lyric Suite & Sonnets of Elizabeth Barrett Browning' Makes Iowa Public Radio?s 2015 Mega-Meta-List

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Renee Fleming & Emerson String Quartet's 'Lyric Suite & Sonnets of Elizabeth Barrett Browning' 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.

Renee Fleming & Emerson String Quartet's 'Lyric Suite & Sonnets of Elizabeth Barrett Browning' received 6-7 votes in this pole.

A great American soprano and string quartet deliver evocative performances of masterpieces from interwar Vienna. Composer/violist Jonathan Blumhofer wrote, "Every once in a while you encounter a performance so well conceived, so finely executed, and so deeply expressive of the many faces of Viennese Modernism that the simple joy - yes, joy! - of hearing it all makes you forget the politics behind the period and /or the rigorous complexity of the compositional process. ...Fleming and the Emersons own these songs."

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