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The US #2 classical best-seller this week is…. a mandolin

We’ve just had the Nielsen ratings in, showing actual sales of classical recordings across the USA.

Nos 1 and 3 are Dominican and Benedictine chant. No 4 is Ana Netrebko. But the shock is #2:

chris thile

Go figure.

It can’t just be the jacket.

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  1. Norman, give it a listen. Thile is an incredible musician!

  2. jeremy sams says:

    this is adorable!

  3. It’s a piece of crap, of all the mandolinists out there the US audience goes for the least classical one.

    It’s not even difficult to find better recordings of it on youtube

  4. I’m waiting for the ukelele version.

  5. John Soloninka says:

    As a violinist, I love this transcription!

  6. At least it wasn’t a saxophonist.

  7. You’re right, it ain’t the jacket. And Thile is no novelty act.

  8. amazing musician, just won a macarthur genius grant

  9. He might be fresh news in the classical world, but he’s been around for a while (he won a MacArthur “Genius” award last year), the rare prodigy whose every step as he has aged (he’s 32 now) has been perfect. I first wrote about him for the Chicago Trib nearly 19 years ago (, and he has surpassed what were already huge expectations.

  10. Robt. Switzer says:

    If guitar can be accepted as a classical instrument, why not mandolin? If the instrument in question here were a lute, I doubt there’d be any surprise. And anything that draws people to classical musical should be applauded.

  11. I have this recording–it is pretty good!

  12. marguerite foxon says:

    Im more shocked to learn religious chant is #1 and #3.

  13. He has been getting a lot of press here. I heard two separate long, adoring appraisals of this album on two separate NPR shows in the past couple weeks. His label and PR people are doing a great job.

  14. I can’t imagine a musician begrudging Chris Thile the curiosity and dedication that led him to make these recordings. Lots of incorrigible back-seat drivers and purse-lipped arbiters, perhaps, but not any musician I know.

  15. The whole album is really good. I’ve bought it and listened to it many times already.

  16. says:

    Yes, this is an excellent record.

    BTW, no posts today? We’re going through Slipped Disc withdrawl here!

  17. Lovely morning tune from Facebook post. I wonder how this would sound on ukelele?

  18. Not a shock after a listen – Great album!!

  19. Mr. Boolez says:

    I remained unmoved by his interpretation. It was big on the marketing front, but lacking in anything approaching an authentic baroque style. Sadly, for many, this will be their first introduction to classical music.

  20. Norman probably already knows this. Mandolin player Chris Thile is a young star in the world of “new acoustic”/”Americana” music, from the bands Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers. And I believe this is on the Nonesuch label, whose bread and butter is marketing music-for-grownups. I’m surprised Thile’s Bach album isn’t #1 on the classical chart… how many copies did it sell?

  21. Beth Sperry says:

    I’ll tell you what it is, Chris Thile is a beautifully musical , shockingly talented musician! And the next frontrunner may well be banjoist Bela Fleck’s recording of Bartok…

  22. Norman, please write a review of this recording!

  23. Ah Norman …
    but when the mandolin is played by Don Giovanni in
    “Deh Viene Alla Finestra “?

  24. Chris Thile is a very great musician. He uses mandolin skills to communicate emotions in ways that I’ve never heard before. Every track on this recording is beautiful even though Thile didn’t train at Juilliard or Berklee. I’m eagerly looking forward to his recording of the rest of Bac’s S & Ps.

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