With the change of a decade, all the media got flooded with charts and evaluations of the past decade. That has inspired me to look at music of the last ten years and choose albums, that I liked the most. The music on these albums has not necessarily been composed and produced during the last decade, but they were released in that period. Each one of them is unique and has become integral part of my listening list.
1. Mumford & Sons – Babel (2012)
I couldn’t start with anyone else than Mumford & Sons. I discovered them in 2013 when they got Grammy for The Album of the Year. The energy contained in their music has given me hope that music will keep its power to energize us and to surprise us for the future. This album and their first one the Sigh No More (2009) are the best these guys have released to this day.
2. Adele – 25 (2015)
Again a proof of the quality of music coming from the British Isles. The very first tones on a piano in the ballad Hello grabbed me and didn’t let go for the rest of the album. That same music still holds strong five years later and I believe it’s become timeless. Adele is a singer that belongs among the best.
3. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker (2016)
Leonard Cohen has a special place in my music list. And especially in my musical heart. It was hard listening to this album and knowing that the great singer has not been among us anymore. I like how this album is described at the Apple Music – ‘At 35, he sounded like an old man – at 82, he sounds eternal’.
When news started appearing, indicating that this album may not be the last, I got really excited. So on November 22nd 2019, when the posthumous album Thanks For The Dance appeared, I couldn’t wait. And the fact is, that when listening to this album, it was one of the strongest musical experiences I’ve ever had. Or, I should better say, it was an ‘aural’ experience. Unforgettable!
4. Avicii – True (2013)
It is a sad fact, that unlike Leonard Cohen, who had an artistic career spanning six decades, Tom Bergling, professionally known as Avicii, quit his own career and life at the age of 28. But his music keeps giving us energy and good mood whenever we need it. For years now, every morning, when the weather is not that inviting to jump out of bed, I inspire my kids with Avicii’s hit song Wake Me Up. And it always works!
5. Cecilia Bartoli – Farinelli (2019)
The truth is that I ‘dig’ Cecilia in any form and shape – even ‘hairy’ with a full moustache … (as she is depicted on this album cover). This is her way to pay tribute to the greatest Baroque castrato singer Farinelli. Cecilia is not your traditional opera star singing mostly popular operas of the 19th century. Instead, she keeps uncovering treasures of the Italian music from previous centuries. This music, especially Porpora’s compositions, and Bartoli’s interpretation have as much energy as the best rock concert.
6. Petr Hapka – Zlatá Kolekce (2015)
My ‘Best of the Decade’ wouldn’t be complete without the Czech composer and singer Petr Hapka. Similar to a few other entries, his career has been closed in 2014, at the age 70. During the communist era in the former Czechoslovakia, he was mostly active as a composer of film scores. Once he joined forces with the lyricist Michal Horáček, his songs reached chart tops many times. The album Zlatá Kolekce (Gold Collection) brings 58 of famous songs covering almost 50 years of his career.
7. Ludovico Einaudi – Islands: Essential Einaudi (2011)
Ever since I got my Apple Mac computer in 2008, a whole month of every summer I would spent glued to the computer. The iTunes/Apple Music Festival throughout ten years of its existence, was for me like a window to the music world, that opened and showcased every possible genre and interesting music artist. That’s how I discovered Swedish House Mafia, Sigur Rós, Avicii, or Seasick Steve … and also Ludovico Einaudi. He represents what the piano music can be about in the 21 century.
8. Enya – Dark Sky Island (2012)
I have been following Enya since her debut album Watermark released in 1988. In her specific genre, she keeps releasing music, that is attractive and recognizable, but never boring. Even more than 30 years later her music is pleasant and nice to listen to.
9. Ola Gjeilo (2016)
Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo’s eponymous album represents for me the best in the choral music, that has been composed in the 21 century. No surprise, that his compositions became popular and performed by many choirs all over the world. This is that type of contemporary music, that one can really enjoy singing as well as listening.
10. Jan Garbarek & Hilliard Ensemble – Remember Me, My Dear (2019)
Usually I don’t like concert recordings of classical music, where unexpected noises from the audience are often very disturbing. This album is different. It must be the fantastic acoustic of the Collegiate Church in Bellinzona, Switzerland, where this was recorded in 2014. But also the unique combination of the British male vocal quartet singing and enhanced by the ephemeral jazz saxophone of Garbarek. I loved their first album Officium from 1994. Unfortunately, twenty years later, this one is their last as the Hillard Ensemble disbanded shortly after the concert.
11. Above & Beyond – Acoustic II (2016)
Trance music cannot be missing, if this list is to reflect my music tastes. The British trio Above & Beyond belongs to the best in this genre of electronic music. But this album is different, as its name already reveals. While the first acoustic album sounds for me more cinematic, I like this second acoustic album more. For me this one is the best “translation” of the trance music to the world of acoustic sounds.
12. Tommy Emmanuel – Little By Little (2010)
There is not much guitar music in this list, but the Australian master of acoustic guitar Tommy Emmanuel can ballance it on his own. His unique picking style allows him to play bass lines, chords, melodies, and harmonies simultaneously. The result is a fantastic hurricane of music, which has drive, is technically brilliant, and at the same time full of emotions and attractive melodies.