From mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli's ambitious revival of the early Baroque composer Agostino Stefani (and yes, she's got another outrageous album cover) to three very different roles for the violin, here's a clutch of classical albums I returned to again and again this year for sheer delight and aural inspiration. Bartoli lavishes extravagant attention on the music of a fascinating but forgotten link in the history of opera.
As 2012 winds down and the Top 10 game kicks into high gear, we're all replaying the past year in our heads. Hype recedes as we reflect and the industry begins to check out for the holidays. That doesn't mean the fires are out — Camille Paglia waded into the feminist conversation around Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, Geeta Dayal poked holes in Beck's latest project and a collection of quotes from Pitchfork interviews got under our skin all over again.