Best new classical albums – January 2017

Gramophone Tue 3rd January 2017

The finest recordings reviewed in the January issue of Gramophone magazine, introduced by Editor Martin Cullingford

Recording of the month

Sibelius. Tchaikovsky Violin Concertos 

Lisa Batiashvili vn Staatskapelle Berlin / Daniel Barenboim 

(DG) 

This is concerto-playing of the very highest order from Lisa Batiashvili and Daniel Barenboim. Every familiar phrase somehow manages to sound both authoritative and newly discovered. 

Our Audio Editor writes: This striking set, bringing together the luminous playing of Batiashvili and the Staatskapelle Berlin under Daniel Barenboim, is a delight from start to finish. The content may be familiar, and the orchestra’s approach definitely on the generous side, but the 96kHz/24bit Qobuz download brings extra clarity to the solo instrument, revealing the true wonder of Batiashvili’s technique, drama and lyricism. Listen to the CD-quality version and you get almost the whole story; step up to ‘hi-res’ and even more life is breathed into the recording, making it truly special.

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

Beethoven ‘The Solo Concertos’ 

Vienna Chamber Orchestra / Stefan Vladar pf 

(Capriccio) 

A complete set of Beethoven concertos – given the catalogue – is always a bold offering, but Vladar excels here, with performances full of colour and charm.

Read the review

 

‘Music for my Love, Vol 1’ 

Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra / Paul Mann 

(Toccata Classics) 

A moving project by label founder Martin Anderson to create a series of works in memory of his partner has resulted in this impressive collection of new pieces, with many more to come. 

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

Schubert. Sibelius String Quartets 

Ehnes Quartet 

(Onyx) 

An unexpected pairing that works really well, informing the context in which each is heard. The Ehnes Quartet’s Schubert is strong and searing, their Sibelius full of dramatic reflection.

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

‘Aspects’ 

Aquarelle Guitar Quartet 

(Chandos) 

This is a real joy to listen to, which isn’t to say it’s not also reflective in places too. But the virtuosity and rapport demonstrated by this guitar quartet is a genuine delight throughout this wonderfully varied recital.

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

‘Encores’ 

Alban Gerhardt vc Markus Becker pf 

(Hyperion) 

A perfect tribute to Rostropovich, quite biographical in a way, with which to open in style a year which marks a decade since the great cellist’s death, and which would have seen his 90th birthday.

Read the review

 

Chopin Piano Works 

Charles Richard-Hamelin pf

(Fryderyk Chopin Institute) 

‘Surely this is a young pianist of whom we will hear a great deal more’, concludes critic Patrick Rucker of this Canadian’s Chopin recital. It’s certainly a career we can look forward to following. 

Read the review

 

JS Bach Cantatas 

Iestyn Davies counterten Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen 

(Hyperion) 

One of today’s most acclaimed countertenors, Davies demonstrates the art and beauty of voice for which he’s become renowned, working once again with the superb Arcangelo.

Read the review

 

A Scarlatti Missa defunctorum 

Odhecaton / Paolo Da Col 

(Arcana)

Skilled singing from this fine ensemble underpin this fascinating premiere recording of an Alessandro Scarlatti work. The recording is atmospheric and engaging throughout. 

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

Hérold Le Pré aux Clercs

Sols; Gulbenkian Orchestra / Paul McCreesh 

(Ediciones Singulares) 

Another excellent revival by Palezzetto Bru Zane of a long-lost work – performed and packaged with equal devotion – earns a heartfelt ‘Chapeau!’ from critic Mark Pullinger.

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

DVD/blu-ray

Handel Alcina. Tamerlano 

Les Talens Lyriques / Christophe Rousset 

(Alpha) 

This Handel double bill from the sure hands of Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques really caught critic David Vickers’s imagination: ‘essential viewing for those who take Handel as a dramatist seriously’, he concludes. 

Read the review

 

Reissue/archive

JS Bach Complete Works 

Zuzana Růžičková hpd 

(Erato) 

A significant set celebrating this fine harpsichordist’s survey of Bach’s solo keyboard music.  

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© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2017