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Canada’s top 21 classical albums of 2021

As 2021 draws to a close and the COVID-19 pandemic shows signs of receding, there’s reason to hope that music-making and classical concert life will return to normal (or something close to it) before long.

Getting to this point hasn’t been easy, but Canada’s classical musicians were undeterred and in many cases used the pandemic hiatus to learn new repertoire and make records they may not have had time to make under normal circumstances. And for that, we’re truly grateful.

With physical-distancing restrictions in place for much of the year, it’s understandable that the majority of new releases in 2021 were solo projects, especially solo piano and violin. (But hats off to Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain, which somehow managed to record and release the next instalment in its Sibelius symphony cycle.)

Below, discover the Canadian classical albums that grabbed the attention of hosts and producers here at CBC Music in 2021. Click on the album titles for information on how to purchase and download them.


5. Music for Self-Isolation, Frank Horvat, various musicians

Of composer Frank Horvat’s three 2021 releases, this double album of works for solo instruments struck a particularly resonant chord during the darkest days of the pandemic. « There is a sense of loss and shared spirit in this music, » CBC Music’s Paolo Pietropaolo noted upon its release. « It’s saying, we might not be able to be together, but let’s be together. » The album comprises 32 miniatures for a whole range of instruments — tuba, accordion, bassoon, electric guitar and vibraphone among them — written in an engaging, approachable style and played by a talented roster of musicians.