Queue 'Gramophone Top 10s'

Gramophone Editor’s Choice recordings – December 2014

Gramophone Thu 4th December 2014

The twelve most outstanding recordings reviewed in the December issue, chosen by Editor Martin Cullingford

Gramophone Editor’s Choice recordings – December 2014
Gramophone Editor’s Choice recordings – December 2014

Recording of the Month

No 1

Schumann Szenen aus Goethes Faust

Sols; Bavarian RSO / Harding

(BR-Klassik) 

'A version of Faust one can really indulge in' Read review

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No 2

Grime Night Songs

Hallé / Sir Mark Elder, Jamie Phillips 

(NMC) 

'A strong recommendation' Read review

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No 3

Vivaldi Concerti per flauto 

Maurice Steger; I Barocchisti / Diego Fasolis 

(Harmonia Mundi)

'It’s pure pleasure' Read review

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No 4

‘Visions Fugitives’ 

Camerata Nordica / Terje Tønnesen 

(BIS)

'The playing of the Camerata Nordica is, in a word, sensational' Read review

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No 5

Haydn String Quartets, Op 20 

Doric Quartet 

(Chandos) 

'This is Vol 1. Hold your breath for the rest' Read review

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No 6

Langgaard String Quartets, Vol 3 

Nightingale Quartet 

(Dacapo)

'Their playing on this final volume lives up to the sky-high standards' Read review 

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No 7

‘La fauvette Passerinette’ 

Peter Hill pf 

(Delphian)

'An outstanding recital disc' Read review

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No 8

Rameau Pièces de clavecin 

Mahan Esfahani hpd 

(Hyperion) 

'Unfailing wit, affection, fluency and pacing' Read review

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No 9

Howells ‘When first thine eies unveil’ 

Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir / Paul Spicer 

(Somm) 

'Sung with control and tranquillity' Read review

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No 10

Hartmann Simplicius Simplicissimus 

Soloists; Netherlands RPO / Markus Stenz 

(Challenge Classics) 

'Hartmann’s opera is viscerally powerful' Read review

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DVD/blu-ray

Berg Lulu 

Soloists; La Monnaie, Brussels / Paul Daniel 

(Bel Air Classiques) 

'The way that the Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan dominates Krzysztof Warlikowski’s nightmarish Brussels staging of Berg’s great unfinished masterpiece is remarkable' Read review

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Reissue/archive

Tavener Akhmatova Requiem 

BBC SO / Gennadi Rozhdestvensky 

(NMC)

'Tavener’s Akhmatova Requiem is a masterpiece' Read review

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Composer: 

Top 10 Vaughan Williams recordings

Gramophone Thu 11th December 2014

The 10 best ways to discover one of the great symphonists of the 20th century

Top 10 Vaughan Williams recordings

Vaughan Williams's The Lark Ascending and Tallis Fantasia are amongst the most popular works by any British composer, but it is in his nine symphonies that we feel the true substance of a composer who was far more than a mere painter of beautiful scenes.

No 1

A Sea Symphony 

LPO / Bernard Haitink 

(Warner Classics/EMI)

'A breathtakingly good recording in all respects' Read review

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No 2

A London Symphony

LSO / Richard Hickox

(Chandos)

'Quite simply, an essential purchase' Read review

 

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No 3

A Pastoral Symphony & Symphony No 4

LPO / Bernard Haitink

(Warner Classics / EMI)

'Interpretations of great intelligence' Read review

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No 4

Symphony No 5

LSO / Richard Hickox

(Chandos)

'An urgently communicative reading' Read review

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No 5

Symphony No 6

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Sir Colin Davis

(BR-Klassik)

'An outstanding and very welcome disc' Read review

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No 6

Sancta Civitas

The Bach Choir, Bournemouth SO / David Hill

(Naxos)

'Responsive to the beauty and the terror' Read review

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No 7

String Quartets

Maggini Quartet, Garfield Jackson va

(Naxos)

'They clearly love this music deeply' Read review

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No 8

The Lark Ascending

Tasmin Little vn BBC PO / Sir Andrew Davis

(Chandos)

'A feast of works for violin and orchestra' Read review

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No 9

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

BBC SO / Sir Andrew Davis

(Warner Apex)

'Ravishing string sonorities' Read review

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No 10

Five Variants of 'Dives and Lazarus'

LSO / Richard Hickox

(Chandos)

'Heart-warming, lucid and nicely flowing' Read review

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Composer: 

Top 10 recordings by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Gramophone Tue 9th December 2014

Choosing 10 of the finest recordings by the BPO is, of course, impossible, but here are 10 that simply demand to be heard...

Top 10 recordings by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

No 1

Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem

BPO / Sir Simon Rattle

(Warner Classics)

'This is a lovely performance, free-moving and sweetly sung' Read review

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No 2

Bruckner Symphony No 8

BPO / Günter Wand

(RCA)

'This new Eighth is exceptionally fine' Read review

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No 3

Haydn Symphony No 88

BPO / Wilhelm Furtwängler

(DG)

'Definitely one to rush out and buy' Read review

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No 4

Mahler Symphony No 6

BPO / Claudio Abbado

(DG)

'I can’t remember hearing a tauter, more refined performance than this' Read review

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No 5

Mahler Symphony No 9

BPO / Herbert von Karajan

DG (live recording)

'Karajan’s 1982 performance remains a remarkable one' Read review

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No 6

Mahler Symphony No 10

BPO / Sir Simon Rattle

(Warner Classics)

'Rattle's new version sweeps the board' Read review

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No 7

Prokofiev/Ravel Piano Concertos

Martha Argerich (pf) BPO / Claudio Abbado

(DG)

'Defying criticism' Read review

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No 8

Puccini La bohème

BPO / Herbert von Karajan

(Decca)

'Perhaps the best thing Pavarotti has ever done' Read review

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No 9

R Strauss Tod und Verklärung. Metamorphosen

BPO / Herbert von Karajan

(DG)

'A clear first-choice in both works' Read review

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No 10

Wagner Parsifal

BPO / Herbert von Karajan

(DG)

'Seems to grow in statute on each re-hearing' Read review

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Composer: 

Top 10 Chopin recordings

Gramophone Fri 28th November 2014

Our guide to the ten best ways to expand your Chopin collection

Top 10 Chopin recordings
Top 10 Chopin recordings

One of the most loved and frequently recorded composers of all, here is our guide to the ten best ways to expand your Chopin collection

No 1

Piano Concertos

Martha Argerich pf Montreal SO / Charles Dutoit

(Warner Classics)

'Allure, brilliance and idiosyncrasy' Read review

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No 2

Cello Sonata

Raphael Wallfisch vc John York pf

(Nimbus)

'The expressive weight of each phrase is carefully considered' Read review

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No 3

Piano Sonatas

Janina Fialkowska pf

(ATMA Classique)

'Lesser mortals may well weep with envy at such unfaltering authority' Read review

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No 4

Four Ballades

Murray Perahia pf

(Sony Classical) 

'Every intricacy is resolved with a translucency that few could equal' Read review

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No 5

Etudes

Jan Lisiecki pf

(DG)

'Lisiecki gives us tone-poems first and studies second' Read review

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No 6

Mazurkas

Vladimir Ashkenazy pf

(Decca)

'Ashkenazy memorably catches their volatile character, and their essential sadness' Read review

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No 7

Nocturnes

Maria João Pires pf

(DG)

'Among the most eloquent master-musicians of our time' Read review

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No 8

Polonaises

Arthur Rubinstein pf

(Naxos)

'Rubinstein played the piano as a fish swims in water or a bird flies through the air' Read review

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No 9

Preludes

Ingrid Fliter pf 

(Linn Records)

'Fliter seems to be able to achieve individuality seemingly effortlessly' Read review

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No 10

Waltzes

Dinu Lipatti pf

(Warner Classics)

'I doubt if the disc will ever find itself long absent from the catalogue' Read review

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Composer: 

Top 10 Rachmaninov recordings

Gramophone Fri 24th October 2014

There are many truly great recordings of Rachmaninov's passionate music, but these 10 recordings would grace any classical collection

Top 10 Rachmaninov recordings

No 1

Piano Concerto No 2

Krystian Zimerman pf Boston SO / Seiji Ozawa

'The verve and poetry of these performances somehow forbid comparison, even at the most exalted level' Review

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No 2

Symphony No 2

London Symphony Orchestra / Valery Gergiev

'The risks and challenges that live performances invite are taken up and negotiated with aplomb' Review

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No 3

Preludes

Steven Osborne pf

'Steven Osborne conveys both the monumentality of these pieces, even the most fleeting, and their very human qualities' Review

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No 4

Piano Concerto No 3

Vladimir Ashkenazy pf LSO / André Previn

'What nobility of feeling and what dark regions of the imagination he relishes and explores' Review

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No 5

The Bells

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle

'Individual movements probingly characterised and eloquently drawn together as a structural entity' Review

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No 6

Piano Sonata No 2

Steven Osborne pf

'What comes across is the ebb and flow of the work: the more inward passages are allowed to breathe; the extrovert ones are absolutely fiery' Review

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No 7

The Miserly Knight

Soloists; BBC PO / Gianandrea Noseda

'Noseda leads the BBC PO and a cast from the Mariinsky in delving deep into the score’s substance' Review

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No 8

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Yuja Wang pf Mahler Chamber Orchestra / Claudio Abbado

'An unteachable ability to tug at the emotions without recourse to sentimentality' Review

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No 9

Liturgy of St John Chrysostom

Choir of King's College, Cambridge / Stephen Cleobury

'If I had only this recording on my desert island, I’d consider it a foretaste of Paradise' Review

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No 10

Vespers, 'All-Night Vigil'

Latvian Radio Choir / Sigvards Kļava

'There is a wonderfully kaleidoscopic (though carefully graded) palette of vocal colours throughout' Review

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Composer: 

Top 10 Mahler symphonies

Gramophone Mon 7th July 2014

Gustav Mahler said, 'My symphonies represent the contents of my entire life.'

Top 10 recordings of Mahler's symphonies

No 1

Symphony No 1

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Rafael Kubelík

'This distinguished coupling has already been available at bargain price...' Review

 

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No 2 

Symphony No 2 

Royal; Kožená; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle 

'The first movement was something of a sticking-point in Rattle’s...Review

 

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No 3 

Symphony No 3

Lipton; Choir of the Transfiguration; NYPO / Leonard Bernstein 

'The courageous breadth of line (only Abbado on DG has since...' Review


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No 4 

Symphony No 4

Persson; Budapest Festival Orchestra / Iván Fischer

'What no one will deny is the amazing unanimity and precision of…' Review

 

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No 5 

Symphony No 5

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle

'The tutti sound Rattle draws from the orchestra is clean and sharply…' Review

 

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No 6 

Symphony No 6 

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Claudio Abbado 

'Whatever the revolution in playing standards since January…' Review

 

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No 7

Symphony No 7 

Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Claudio Abbado 

'Abbado' s view of Mahler's Seventh Symphony, like Haitink's on…' Review

 

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No 8 

Symphony No 8

London Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra / Klaus Tennstedt

'The Royal Festival Hall was never a natural venue for Mahler’s…' Review

 

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No 9 

Symphony No 9 

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Herbert von Karajan

'In 1980, Karajan and the BPO made a memorable LP recording of…' Review

 

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No 10

Symphony No 10 (ed Cooke)

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle

'Sir Simon Rattle previously recorded Deryck Cooke's performing…' Review

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Composer: 

Top 10 symphonies

Guest Wed 30th April 2014

For those seeking to build a classical collection, these 10 symphonies are an ideal place to start

Top 10 symphonies
Top 10 symphonies

A brief history of the symphony

The symphony first appeared on programmes – inevitably in aristocratic settings – during the early years of the 18th century, often a natural development from the Italian overture (which usually comprised three movements). By the 1770s, the four-movement form we usually think of was established and one of its earliest (and still one of the greatest) exponents was Joseph Haydn who wrote 104 symphonies. Mozart’s 41 took the symphony on a step and, as the 18th century dawned, Beethoven infused the form with a new expressivity and power. His Third Symphony, known as the Eroica, burst into the world in 1805 and extended the length of the symphony dramatically (its first movement alone is longer than many complete symphonies written a couple of decades earlier). Beethoven’s nine symphonies remain the pinnacle of the form, performed daily and still providing spiritual nourishment to audiences of every nationality and creed.

The 19th century found most of the great composers writing symphonies – Schubert (eight), Brahms (four), Schumann (four), Mendelssohn (five), Tchaikovsky (six, seven if you include the Manfred), Dvořák (nine) for example.

The four movements – usually fast, slow, faster, faster – often included a dance form as one of the central movements (usually third), and often a theme and variation form might be included (Beethoven’s Third) or a variant such as a passacaglia (Brahms’s Fourth). As a vehicle for expression, the symphony had assumed a major role and reached its apogee in the years surrounding the turn of the 20th century. Bruckner’s nine extended the length yet again, and Mahler, as he famously told Sibelius, believed the symphony ‘should embrace the world’: he used his 10 (or 11 if you include the song-symphony Das Lied von der Erde) to explore psychological states and philosophical questions that still mesh powerfully with audiences 100 years after his death.

The 20th century found the ‘centre of gravity’ of symphonic writing shift north from its Austro-German heartland to Scandinavia and Russia/Soviet Union. The Finn Sibelius wrote seven, the Dane Nielsen six, and the Soviets Shostakovich (14) and Prokofiev (seven) contributed greatly to the genre. The French and Italians largely ignored the form, though it was taken up enthusiastically in America (Copland, Hanson, Bernstein, Harris, Piston and others). In the UK – and largely from practitioners of late-Romantic, tonal writing – the symphony flourished in the 20th century: Elgar wrote two, Bax seven, Walton two, Vaughan Williams nine (continuing to write symphonies when the musical public had imagined he’d delivered his last word in the genre) and Malcolm Arnold (nine).

Today’s major symphonists – and the form has rather fallen from favour (partly no doubt to constraints of time and budgets!) – include Philip Glass (nine), Leif Segerstam (261! as of 2012), Maxwell Davies (nine), Per Nørgård (eight) and David Matthews (seven).

Width of Text & Centred

No 1

Mozart Symphony No 40

Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Sir Charles Mackerras

'There is no need to argue the credentials of Sir Charles...' Review

 

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No 2

Beethoven Symphony No 5

ORR / Sir John Eliot Gardiner

'So palpable is the excitement of these live performances that it...Review


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No 3

Dvořák Symphony No 9

Budapest Festival Orchestra / Iván Fischer

'Iván Fischer is truly “one on his own”, a fund of fascinating...Review

 

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No 4

Tchaikovsky Symphony No 6

Philharmonia Orchestra / Sir Charles Mackerras

'There is an immediacy and incisive, almost forensic clarity to this...Review

 

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No 5

Bruckner Symphony No 5

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Nikolaus Harnoncourt

'The word "vision" is much misused these days yet to talk of...Review

 

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No 6

Mahler Symphony No 5

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle

'It made a fine nuptial offering for Rattle and the Berliners...Review

 

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No 7

Sibelius Symphony No 5

Lahti Symphony Orchestra / Osmo Vänskä

'Every so often a CD appears which, by means of some...Review

 

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No 8

Copland Symphony No 3

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra / James Judd

'This time there’s no question about Naxos claiming these two...Review

 

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No 9

Prokofiev Symphony No 5

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle

'A Prokofiev Fifth as vibrant, intelligent and meticulously prepared...Review

 

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No 10

Shostakovich Symphony No 10

RLPO / Vasily Petrenko

'Petrenko’s Shostakovich cycle goes from strength to strength...' Review

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Top 10 violin concertos

Guest Mon 7th April 2014

An introduction to 10 of the greatest violin concertos with highly recommended recordings

Top 10 violin concertos

Along with the piano, the violin is the instrument best served with concertos, and what a variety there is! Here’s a violin concerto Top 10 that embraces all the great works at the centre of every violinist’s repertoire ranging from the poise of the Mozart via the red-blooded Romantic works like the Tchaikovsky to the modern language of the Prokofiev and Bartók…

No 1

Mozart Violin Concerto No 3

The English Concert / Andrew Manze (vn)

'Andrew Manze’s vivid notes stress the 19-year-old composer’s...' Read review

 

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No 2

Beethoven Violin Concerto

Isabelle Faust (vn) Orchestra Mozart / Claudio Abbado

'The Beethoven and Berg violin concertos aren’t commonly paired on...' Read review

 

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No 3

Mendelssohn Violin Concerto

Daniel Hope (vn) Chamber Orchestra of Europe / Thomas Hengelbrock

'Daniel Hope has a chameleon-like ability to...' Read review

 

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No 4

Brahms Violin Concerto

Julia Fischer (vn) Netherlands PO / Yakov Kreizberg

'Now well in her stride as a recording artist, German violinist Julia...' Read review

 

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No 5

Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto

James Ehnes (vn) Sydney SO / Vladimir Ashkenazy

'James Ehnes’s programme, complementing the Concerto with the rest of...' Read review

 

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No 6

Bruch Violin Concerto No 1

Julia Fischer (vn) Tonhalle Orchestra / David Zinman

'Her bright, attenuated sound, vibrantly expressive but never overbearing...' Read review

 

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No 7

Berg Violin Concerto

Isabelle Faust (vn) Orchestra Mozart / Claudio Abbado

'The Beethoven and Berg violin concertos aren’t commonly paired on...' Read review

 

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No 8

Bartók Violin Concerto No 2

Patricia Kopatchinskaja (vn) Frankfurt RSO / Peter Eötvös

'Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto has long since...' Read review

 

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No 9

Prokofiev Violin Concerto No 2

Patricia Kopatchinskaja (vn) LPO / Vladimir Jurowski

'In the last movement of Prokofiev’s...' Read review

 

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No 10

Shostakovich Violin Concerto No 1

Lisa Batiashvili (vn) Bavarian RSO / Esa-Pekka Salonen

'The new-found popularity of Shostakovich’s greatest concerto has...' Read review

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Top 10 Mozart recordings

Gramophone Tue 14th January 2014

Mozart was arguably the most naturally gifted musician in history; these are classic recordings of his 10 key works

No 1

Symphony No 41, ‘Jupiter’

Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Sir Charles Mackerras

'There is no need to argue the credentials of Sir Charles...' Review

 

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No 2

Piano Concerto No 22

Northern Sinfonia / Imogen Cooper

'The qualities that make Cooper quite simply one of the finest pianists this country has produced...' Review


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No 3

Sinfonia Concertante, K364

Carmignola; Waśkiewicz; Orchestra Mozart / Claudio Abbado

'their skilled dovetailing and intelligent use...' Review

 

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No 4

String Quartet in B flat, ‘Hunt’, K458

Jerusalem Quartet

'Bowing varies from precise attack to breathy delicacy; and lines...' Review

 

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No 5

Clarinet Concerto

Wolfgang Meyer; Concentus Musicus Wien / Nikolaus Harnoncourt

'There are happy and shapely performances of all three...' Review

 

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No 6

Piano Sonata No 15 in F, K533

Richard Goode (pf) 

'There’s nothing more demanding of mind and finger, heart and hand...' Review

 

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No 7

Requiem

Soloists; Arnold Schoenberg Choir; Concentus Music Wien / Nikolaus Harnoncourt

'Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s...' Review

 

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No 8

The Marriage of Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro)

Soloists; Concerto Köln / René Jacobs

'René Jacobs always brings...' Review

 

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No 9

Don Giovanni

Soloists; Philharmonia Chorus and Orchestra / Carlo Maria Giulini

'At last. The 1959 Giulini Don Giovanni has been digitally remastered...' Review

 

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No 10

The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte)

RIAS Chamber Choir; Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin / René Jacobs

'Jacobs sets out his stall...' Review

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Composer: 

Top 10 Bach recordings

Gramophone Tue 14th January 2014

Here are 10 works by Bach that are essential listening; and once bitten the Bach Bug will take you on a journey of almost limitless reward

No 1

Orchestral Suites

Ensemble Sonnerie / Monica Huggett

'“Orchestral Suites for a young prince” is what this release advertises, in reference to the fact...' Review

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No 2

Brandenburg Concertos

European Brandenburg Ensemble / Trevor Pinnock 

'When Trevor Pinnock first recorded the Brandenburgs with the English...Review


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No 3

Violin Concertos

Daniel Hope; Chamber Orchestra of Europe

'First impressions suggest a high-energy, tightly accented...Review

 

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No 4

Goldberg Variations

Glenn Gould (pf)

'This truly astonishing performance was recorded in 1981, 26 years...Review

 

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No 5

Partitas

Trevor Pinnock

'Hanssler’s eclectic approach to its ongoing complete Bach series...Review

 

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No 6

Cello Suites

Steven Isserlis

'Though these two new recordings of the Bach Cello Suites sound rather different, reading the...'Review

 

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No 7

Well-tempered Clavier

Angela Hewitt 

'Listening to Angela Hewitt’s latest thoughts on Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier alongside her...Review

 

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No 8

Solo Violin Sonatas and Partitas

Rachel Podger

'As a matter of tactics disregarding the printed order of the works...Review

 

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No 9

Mass in B minor

Soloists; Dunedin Consort and Players / John Butt

'There are few who strive sincerely to juxtapose the bedfellows...Review

 

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No 10

St Matthew Passion

Soloists; Arnold Schoenberg Choir; Concentus Musicus Wien / Nikolaus Harnoncourt

'Harnoncourt has waited over...' Review


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Composer: 

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