Ranked lists are intended to lend what sure feels like objective authority to a retrospective appraisal of the year (why else involve numbers?). But, reader, never do I feel more distinctly subjective than when attempting to sort my year of musical experiences into a tidy top 10. Although orchestras and opera companies are still struggling to regain and retain their pre-pandemic audiences, 2023 was a year with so much to hear — big performances, exciting premieres and promising signs for the state of the art in the year to come.
10. Apple Music Classical
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Maybe it’s just because of what I do for a living, but I’m really smitten with Apple’s wildly handy solution to classical music’s historically troubled relationship with metadata. This spinoff/companion to Apple Music may seem a little overdressed for the occasion with its bespoke serif fonts and cheesy portraits of canonical composers, but under the hood, Apple Music Classical is a gratifyingly granular search architecture that makes it possible to navigate and sort through hundreds of thousands of high-quality classical recordings, and easily engage with classical music and opera without the bugs, oversights, omissions and metadata morass of its competitors.