Queue 'Gramophone Top 10s'

Top 10 Karajan recordings

Gramophone Thu 10th July 2014

Herbert von Karajan was the first artist to be inducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame. Here are 10 of his most outstanding recordings

Top 10 Karajan recordings

No 1

Beethoven Symphonies Nos 1-9

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Karajan

'How anyone could listen to these performances and then say that Karajan...'  Read review

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No 2

Wagner Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Sols; Staatskapelle Dresden / Karajan

'When this set first appeared Andrew Porter...' Read review 

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No 3

Strauss Four Last Songs

Janowitz sop Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Karajan

'Three celebrated Karajan recordings of...' Read review

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No 4

Strauss Salome

Sols; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Karajan

'Karajan’s reading of this seminal work has always been noted for its glorious sensuousness...' Read review

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No 5

Schoenberg Pelleas und Melisande

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Karajan

'For all its length, this is a tightly-argued score, and Karajan, taking...' Read review

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No 6

Prokofiev Symphony No 5

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Karajan

'Karajan’s 1968 Prokofiev Fifth is a great...' Read review

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No 7

New Year's Concert, 1987

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Karajan

'A splendid and indispensable issue for all admirers of Karajan and Johann...' Read review

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No 8

Strauss Der Rosenkavalier

Sols; Philharmonia Chorus and Orch / Karajan

'A landmark in the history of the gramophone, Karajan’s 1956 EMI recording of...' Read review

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No 9

Verdi Falstaff

Sols; Philharmonia Chorus and Orch / Herbert von Karajan

'After one has grown up with a much-loved recording, no other ever seems to match it. That is the...' Read review

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No 10 

Wagner Parsifal

Sols; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Karajan

'Great pains have evidently been taken about balance, and indeed about the acoustic...' Read review

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Top 10 Bach recordings

James McCarthy 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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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 song-cycles (with piano)

Guest Fri 2nd May 2014

Beethoven may have invented the song-cycle but Schubert raised it to extraordinary heights of expression and beauty

Top 10 song-cycles (with piano)
Top 10 song-cycles (with piano)

Beethoven, with his An die ferne Geliebte, may have invented the concept of the song-cycle (a group of songs linked by a theme, and usually a poet, that are performed as a sequence without a break), but the composer who raised it to extraordinary heights of expression and beauty was Schubert. Here are some of the greatest of all song-cycles with piano accompaniment in some of the finest recordings ever made.

No 1

Beethoven: An die ferne Geliebte

Matthias Goerne bar Alfred Brendel pf

'The Beethoven cycle moves in a steady progress not into the usual triumphant...' Read review

 

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No 2

Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin

Werner Güra ten Jan Schultsz pf

'An absolutely enthralling account of the cycle on virtually every count...' Read review

 

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No 3

Schubert: Winterreise

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau bar Jörg Demus pf

'On the verge of his fifth decade, the singer was in his absolute prime - and it shows. Indeed listening...' Read review

 

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No 4

Schumann: Dichterliebe

Ian Bostridge ten Julius Drake pf

'It would be difficult to overpraise this issue given its manifold revelations concerning the setting of...' Read review

 

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No 5

Fauré: La bonne chanson

Anne Sofie von Otter mez Bengt Forsberg pf

'She has one of the most beautiful voices of our time and is also one of...' Read review

 

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No 6

Mussorgsky: Songs and Dances of Death

Gerald Finley bar Julius Drake pf

'Gerald Finley can do no wrong at present, and this Wigmore Hall Live offering...' Read review

 

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No 7

Britten: Songs and Proverbs of William Blake

Gerald Finley bar Julius Drake pf

'Sternly, even fiercely standing its ground, the...' Read review

 

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No 8

Mahler: Kindertotenlieder

Christianne Stotijn mez Joseph Breinl pf

'The soul of the disc is Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder in one of the more convincing...' Read review

 

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No 9

Messiaen: Harawi

Hetna Regitza Bruun sop Kristoffer Hyldig pf

'Naxos’s recording equally reveals that Kristoffer Hyldig is a fine new...' Read review

 

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No 10

Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel

Dietrich Henschel bar Fritz Schwinghammer pf

'The first German baritone to record Vaughan...' Read review

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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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Top 10 piano concertos

Guest 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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Top 10 Mozart recordings

James McCarthy 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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Top 10 modern classics

Guest Wed 2nd April 2014

Daunted by contemporary music? Look no further...

Top 10 Modern Classics

Time is often the best judgement of art’s longevity; however much the critics heap adulation of a new play, book or piece of music, if it doesn’t start a life there and then, it’s future can’t be guaranteed. The history of music is littered with pieces that were heard just once – and have never seen the light of day since. Here’s a list of 10 pieces, composed since 1982, that have established a hold on the repertoire and in some cases notched up a fair number of recordings. It’s not exhaustive, but it does speak eloquently of what ignites public appreciation…

No 1

Adams Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986)

Bournemouth SO / Marin Alsop

'This attractive Adams disc presents several...' Read review

 

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Adams Alsop

No 2

Tavener The Protecting Veil (1988)

Steven Isserlis (vc) LSO / Gennady Rozhdestvensky

'First impressions of The Protecting Veil are of a consonant...' Read review

 

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Tavener The Protecting Veil

No 3

MacMillan Veni, Veni, Emmanuel (1992)

Evelyn Glennie (perc) Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Jukka-Pekka Saraste

'Now coming up to 40, James MacMillan has...' Read review

 

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No 4

Maxwell Davies An Orkney Wedding, With Sunrise (1985)

Atlanta SO / Donald Runnicles

'The release of this all-British programme coincided with the...' Read review

 

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No 5

Turnage Blood on the Floor (1993-96)

Ensemble Modern / Peter Rundel

'The title comes from a painting by Francis Bacon (whose distinctive facial features are bizarrely recalled in the composer’s own), while the music ranges widely in its references and...' Read review

 

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Turnage

No 6

Adès Asyla (1999)

BPO / Rattle

'In not much more than 18 months, EMI has now recorded 19 works by Thomas Adès...' Read review

 

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No 7

Ligeti Violin Concerto (1990/92)

Patricia Kopatchinskaja (vn) Ensemble Modern; Hessen RSO / Peter Eötvös

Read review

 

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No 8

Lieberson Neruda Songs (2005)

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (mez) Boston SO / James Levine

'Not so long ago, “lush” and “romantic” were...' Read review

 

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No 9

Whitacre Sleep (2000)

Polyphony / Stephen Layton

'Eric Whitacre came relatively late to classical music; he was converted by Mozart’s Requiem...' Read review

 

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No 10

Pärt Passio (1982)

Tonus Peregrinus / Anthony Pitts

'Arvo Pärt’s Passio is a shining beacon among countless late-20th century...' Read review

 

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Top 10 Elgar recordings

James McCarthy Tue 14th January 2014

Elgar's lyrical side conjures up tranquil pastoral beauty; his pomposity and ebullience remind us of the British bulldog – one with teeth.

No 1

Cello Concerto

Jacqueline du Pré (vc) London Symphony Orchestra / Sir John Barbirolli

'Issued in 1965 and one...' Review


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No 2

Violin Concerto

Nigel Kennedy (vn) London Philharmonic Orchestra / Vernon Handley

'Nigel Kennedy now comes to...' Review


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No 3

Pomp and Circumstance Marches

BBC Philharmonic / Sir Andrew Davis

'Davis’s dashingly articulate, meticulously observant and...' Review


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No 4

Symphony 2

Philharmonia Orchestra / Sir Andrew Davis

'Andrew Davis’s new recordings of the Elgar symphonies along with...' Review


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No 5

Enigma Variations

London Symphony Orchestra / Sir Adrian Boult

'Plenty of Enigma recordings have been added to the catalogue since...' Review


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No 6

In the South, ‘Alassio’

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Sir Andrew Davis

'Hearing again Sir Andrew Davis’s magnificently unforced...' Review


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No 7

Serenade for Strings

Philharmonia Orchestra / Sir Andrew Davis

'Not since Nigel Kennedy’s 1997 remake with Sir Simon Rattle and...' Review


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No 8

Piano Quintet

The Nash Ensemble

'As ever, the playing of the Nash Ensemble evinces consummate refinement and total...' Review


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No 9

Sea Pictures

Janet Baker (mez) London Symphony Orchestra / Sir John Barbirolli

'Issued in 1965 and one of EMI's best-sellers ever since, this Elgar...' Review


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No 10

The Dream of Gerontius

Bryn Terfel (bass-bar) Hallé Orchestra and Choir / Sir Mark Elder

'It is only fitting that the Hallé should be the source of the only...' Review

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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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© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2014