The silly season of endless lists is upon us. You might notice that here at Deceptive Cadence, we don't even try to enumerate which albums were "best" — we use the word "favorite" quite intentionally, as you'll see from the pan-genre list painstakingly compiled with our NPR Music colleagues. We surely don't try to rank our lists in some impossibly subjective and ultimately totally arbitrary order; we find that the alphabet works quite nicely. We are bitterly aware of the piles of still-unheard albums that rest on our desktops (both real and digital), and we rue the onslaught of late-year releases that probably didn't get their due consideration.
And now that there are two of us hosting this blog, the lovely round number of ten is cleaved right in half, meaning that, at least in theory we each had just five spaces in which to pack 365 days' worth of listening. (In truth, there was quite a bit of happy overlap between our picks.)
Despite all those factors and caveats, however, a year-end summation, stock-taking, trend-marking, conversation-starting — whatever you might call it — feels both inevitable and irresistible. So what are the trends of 2011? Big voices, both expected (Joseph Calleja and Montserrat Figueras) and surprising (the Ebène Quartet's Mathieu Herzog); impassioned pianists (including two Kristian/Krystians — Bezuidenhout and Zimerman); and championing of severely under-heard composers (Zimerman again, playing Bacewicz, and Juri Belohlavek leading the symphonies of Martinu). Here's to many contented hours of listening in 2012!