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Gramophone Editor’s Choice recordings – October 2014

Gramophone Mon 13th October 2014

Read the reviews and stream this month's Editor's Choice recordings

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

Recording of the Month

JS Bach Keyboard Partitas

Igor Levit pf

(Sony Classical)

'The distinction of this set of the Partitas will establish him in the minds of many, I’m sure, as a major artist' Read review

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Beethoven Piano Concertos Nos 3 & 4 

Maria João Pires pf Swedish RSO / Daniel Harding 

(Onyx)

'Pires’s performances are quite simply of another order.' Read review

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Strauss family Waltzes & Polkas, etc 

Vienna SO / Manfred Honeck 

(Wiener Symphoniker)

'Not since Fricsay and Kleiber have I heard better-prepared performances of Strauss family perennials.' Read review

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‘Perla Barocca’

Rachel Podger vn Marcin Świątkiewicz hpd/org Daniele Caminiti theo 

(Channel Classics)

'It would be hard to imagine a more enticing introduction to the delights of 17th-century Italian violin music.' Read review

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Medtner. Rachmaninov Piano Sonatas, etc 

Steven Osborne pf 

(Hyperion)

'A reading that is taut, highly dramatic and virtuoso without being showy.' Read review

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Dove Song-Cycles

Claire Booth sop Patricia Bardon mez Nicky Spence ten Andrew Matthews-Owen pf 

(Naxos)

'If you want to find out what has happened to English song since Britten, this is as good a place to start as any' Read review

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Janáček Glagolitic Mass, etc 

Soloists; Prague RSO / Tomáš Netopil 

(Supraphon)

'Tomáš Netopil’s performance seethes with nervous energy' Read review

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Moulinié ‘Meslanges pour la chapelle d’un prince’ 

Ens Correspondances 

(Harmonia Mundi)

'Miniature pieces are capable of real grandeur in the right hands' Read review

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Pärt Choral Works 

Polyphony / Stephen Layton 

(Hyperion)

'Outstanding renditions that exploit the ensemble’s crystalline upper voices to perfection' Read review

 

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Barry The Importance of Being Earnest 

Soloists; BCMG / Adès 

(NMC)

'The singers and actors, with the BCMG, combine into a phenomenally well-integrated musical ensemble' Read review

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R Strauss Elektra 

Soloists; Vienna State Opera / Karl Böhm 

(Orfeo)

'Both immensely exciting and deeply moving' Read review

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Gramophone Editor’s Choice recordings – Awards issue 2014

Gramophone Fri 19th September 2014

Read the reviews and stream this month's Editor's Choice recordings

Listen: Gramophone Editor’s Choice recordings – Awards 2014

Recording of the Month

Monteverdi Vespri solenni per la Festa di San Marco

Concerto Italiano / Rinaldo Alessandrini

(Naïve)

‛Their most essential Monteverdian work in donkey’s years' Review

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Beethoven 'Beethoven Journey, Vol 3'

Mahler CO / Leif Ove Andsnes

(Sony)

‘Having used up my stash of superlatives, all I can say is: go buy' Review


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Dvořák Symphony No 8

Pittsburgh SO / Manfred Honeck

(Reference Recordings)

‘Honeck’s interpretation is rich in imagination and the playing of the Pittsburgh Symphony scales the heights' Review

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Mozart String Quartets Nos 14, 16 & 19

Casals Quartet

(Harmonia Mundi)

‘Cuarteto Casals shatter a glass ceiling of historic inhibitions and camouflage nothing' Review

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Vivaldi Cello Sonatas

Marco Ceccato vc Accademia Ottoboni

(Zig-Zag Territoires)

‘A fine player with a genuine affinity for Vivaldi. His readings are elegant and much the most poetic I have heard' Review

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Leighton 'Organ Works, Vol 1'

Stephen Farr org 

(Resonus)

‘We experience with wonderful clarity Leighton’s clever manipulation of these familiar, comforting tunes' Review

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Scharwenka. Tchaikovsky Piano Sonatas

Joseph Moog pf 

(Onyx)

‘One of the modern era’s best recordings of this work' Review


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Byrd. Philips 'Adoramus te'

Clare Wilkinson mez Rose Consort of Viols

(Deux-Elles)

‘Clare Wilkinson turns in perhaps the finest performances I can remember from her in this repertory' Review

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Schubert 'Nachtviolen'

Christian Gerhaher bar Gerold Huber pf

(Sony)

‘Gerhaher catches the anguish and desolation without ever compromising beauty of tone and breadth of line' Review

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Schoenberg Moses und Aron

Soloists; SWR SO / Sylvain Cambreling

(Hänssler Classic)

‘Extraordinarily intense austerity' Review

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Gramophone Editor’s Choice recordings – September 2014

Gramophone Fri 15th August 2014

Read the reviews and stream this month's Editor's Choice recordings

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

Recording of the Month

'Dances'

Benjamin Grosvenor pf

(Decca)

‛This is a disc to prompt wonder and delight in equal measure...’ Review

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Haydn Piano Concertos

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet pf Manchester Camerata / Gábor Takács-Nagy 

(Chandos)

‘Make room for Bavouzet’s entirely personal take on these concertos...’ Review

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Biber Mystery (Rosary) Sonatas

Battalia; Sirkka-Liisa Kaakinen‑Pilch vn 

(Ondine)

‘The sound of playing in octaves is given a particularly powerful effect...’ Review

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Mendelssohn String Quintets

Mandelring Quartet; Gunter Teuffel vn 

(Audite)

‘The definitive set is complete....’ Review

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Scriabin ‘Extase’

Michèle Gurdal pf 

(Challenge Classics)

‘Thundering and caressing, her lavish pedalling allows her an exceptional breadth and colour...’ Review

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Ferrandini ‘Al Santo Sepolcro’

Roberta Invernizzi sop L’Opera Stravagante 

(Fra Bernardo)

‘She strikes the perfect balance between spiritual sincerity and dramatic narration...’ Review

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Haydn Die Jahreszeiten

Champs-Elysées Orchestra / Philippe Herreweghe 

(PHI)

‘Herreweghe yields to no one in the cataclysmic summer tempest...’ Review

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‘Canticles from St Paul’s’

St Paul’s Cathedral Choir / Andrew Carwood 

(Hyperion)

‘It’s thrilling to hear much-loved works by Stanford and Walmisley so well sung...’ Review

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Charpentier La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers

Boston Early Music Festival / Paul O’Dette, Stephen Stubbs 

(CPO)

‘Dorothee Mields is a compelling Amaranthe...’ Review

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‘Semiramide’

Anna Bonitatibus mez La Stagione Armonica / Federico Ferri 

(DHM)

‘This set, sumptuously illustrated, is an absolute must-have...’ 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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Composer: 

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 piano concertos

Gramophone Tue 15th April 2014

The top 10 piano concertos – from Mozart to Rachmaninov – with highly recommended recordings

Top 10 piano concertos

One of the richest corners of the repertoire (and one of the most popular) in which a solo piano is pitted against the orchestra – with invariably thrilling results. Mozart may have lifted the piano concerto into the modern age, but in the hands of the great Romantic masters it became a form for expression of colossal variety. Here are 10 of the greatest of all piano concertos.

No 1

Mozart Piano Concerto No 27

Andreas Staier (pf) Freiburg Baroque Orchestra / Gottfried von der Goltz

'A controversial point in the keyboard...' Read review

 

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No 2

Beethoven Piano Concerto No 5

Paul Lewis (pf) BBC Symphony Orchestra / Jiří Bělohlávek

'Lewis’s first entry in the Adagio has a slight catch...' Read review

 

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No 3

Brahms Piano Concerto No 1

Nelson Freire (pf) Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly

'This is the Brahms piano concerto set we’ve been waiting for...' Read review

 

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No 4

Schumann Piano Concerto

Leif Ove Andsnes (pf) BPO / Mariss Jansons

'I particularly like the free-flowing tempo for the central Andantino...' Read review

 

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No 5

Grieg Piano Concerto

Leif Ove Andsnes (pf) BPO / Mariss Jansons

'However many times he has performed the Grieg, Andsnes retains a freshness and expressiveness...' Read review

 

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No 6

Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 1

Martha Argerich (pf) BPO / Claudio Abbado

'Lyrical and insinuating, to a degree her performance seems to be made of the...' Read review

 

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No 7

Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 3

Martha Argerich (pf) BPO / Claudio Abbado

'There have been others to match the bustle and brilliance of Argerich's...' Read review

 

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No 8

Ravel Piano Concerto

Krystian Zimerman (pf) Cleveland Orchestra / Pierre Boulez

'Zimerman’s pianism is self-recommending. His trills in the first movement of...' Read review

 

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No 9

Bartók Piano Concerto No 2

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (pf) BBC PO / Gianandrea Noseda

'If you’re after a disc of Bartók’s piano concertos that maximises on the music’s...' Read review

 

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No 10

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 2

Leif Ove Andsnes (pf) BPO / Antonio Pappano

'Andsnes here gives the lie to those who find his playing on the cool side...' Read review

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Composer: 

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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