A year in culture: Classical music

Critics' Choice: The Best of 2011

While 2011 has had some starry orchestras visiting - the Leipzig Gewandhaus with Riccardo Chailly, Pierre Boulez and his Ensemble intercontemporain - two of the year's finest orchestral performances were home-grown. John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique showed everyone (including Chailly) how Beethoven should be done, while the London Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda brought blistering heat to Britten's War Requiem. The Takács Quartet's Bartók and spirited song from Magdalena Kožená were the
gems of the recital hall while, onstage, little-known discoveries from Wexford (Ambroise Thomas's La cour de Célimène) and Garsington (Vivaldi's La verità in cimento) proved their worth. In a year of operatic provocateurs, it was Christopher Alden's inspired and unsettling Midsummer Night's Dream for English National Opera that will endure.

This article first appeared in the 12 December 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Unholy war