Each year, the Web, and the blogs that seem to proliferate the Web, fruits "Best" and "Worst of" lists around this time. As a consumer of recorded music, I myself wonder: "This year, what's the best thing I bought?" When I review some of the music I purchase, I don't put quantifiable ratings on the albums. To do so would be difficult, and guesses at best. And of course, our opinions of the albums change over time. Does an album with one exquisite track automatically rise to the top of a list? I mainly review content here so that others who share my interest in this music may be making an informed buying decision, or even better, be able to engage in conversation about the music we both admire. The first thing that might be prudent is to list the albums I'm considering. I've organized these into three parts, the first a "hot" list, a "warm" list, and a "cool" list. The cold list items weren't as appealing as the hot ones. John's Hot List for 2010 * Accademia Bizantina - Vivaldi - op. 8, concerti 7-12 * Bruno Cocset et al - Bach - Sonatas, Chorals and Trios * Dave Holland and Pepe Habichuela - Hands * David Fray - Bach - Piano Concertos * Imaginarium Ensemble - Vivaldi - La Follia * Keith Jarrett Trio - My Foolish Heart * Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden - Jasmine * Bach Collegium Japan - Bach - Motets * Ensemble Sonnerie - Bach - Orchestral Suites * Richard Galliano - Bach - Concerti * Takacs Quartet - Bartók - String Quartets * Viktoria Mullova - Bach - Sonatas and Partitas * Paul Galbraith - Bach Sonatas and Partitas John's Warm List for 2010 * Sandrine Piau - Handel - Between Heaven & Earth * Alte Musik Köln - Roma * Amandine Beyer - Matteis - False Consonsances of Melancholy * Bach Collegium Japan - Bach - Cantata Series #s 29, 31, 39, 40 * Bruno Cocset - Bach - 6 suites for solo cello * L'Arpeggiata - Pluhar - Via Crucis * Dave Barnes - Very Merry Christmas * Dave Holland Octet - Pathways * Ensemble Zefiro - Handel - Venus & Adonis * Fabio Biondi - Vivaldi - 12 Manchester Sonatas * Europa Galante - Mozart - Violin Concertos 1-3 * Freiburg Barockorchester Consort - Bertali - Tausend Gülden * Harry Conick Jr., What a Night * Helene Schmitt - Uccellini - Sonatas * Keith Jarrett Trio - Changeless * Keith Jarrett Trio - Yesterdays * L'Estravante - Buxtehude - Sonatas, op. 2 * Sandrine Piau - Handel - Opera Seria * Maruice Steger - Corelli et al - Mr. Corelli in London * RIchard Yongjae O'Neill - Alte Musik Köln - Mysterioso * Pink Martini - Joy to the World * Musica Antiqua Roma - Veracini - Violin Sonatas John's Cool List for 2010 * Parnassi musici - Krieger - Trio Sonatas * Philip Glass Ensemble - Orion * Trio Hantai - Bach - Flute Sonatas * L'aura Soave Cremona - Vivaldi - Concerti per fagotto * Sonatori de la Giosa Marca - Vivaldi - Concerti per fagotto e oboe * Gunar Letzbor - Westhoff - Six violin partitas * Ceclia Bartoli - Sacrificium * Bruno Cocset et Les Basses Reuinies - Vivaldi - Suonata a cello solo * Bruno Cocset - et al - Geminiani - Sonatas for cello and continuo This isn't saying that the cool items were bad; what really stood out as I sorted these lists were how many times I returned to the albums. Take David Holland and Pepe Habicheula's album of latin jazz. That recording quality is pristine, it's warm, saucy music that's infectious. It would be near the top of my list for the year. Or the rich sound from the small Ensemble Sonnerie in their interpretation of Bach's orchestral suites. The Krieger sonatas weren't just great works of art. Orion is an interesting album, but it's not one I'll return to often. The only one that has me scratching my head is Letzbor's Westhoff album... I'm not sure if it's the composer or the performer... the music isn't calling me back. And I always love the color and energy in an album by Christina Pluhar, but this one wasn't up to par with her earlier releases. Please note all of these albums were not released in 2010... I simply acquired them this year. Happy new year - best wishes in 2011. (Oh, you were wondering if I was going to declare a favorite?) Surprise! I picked two. Likely my favorite is Keith Jarrett's My Foolish Heart on ECM. It's a nice album, great compilation of tunes! And for the baroque-set, I'm choosing French pianist (gasp, Bach on piano) David Fray's album. Real dynamics cutting through the chamber orchestra make the music a lot of fun.