Best new classical albums – December 2016

Gramophone Fri 2nd December 2016

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

Recording of the month

Beethoven Piano Sonatas, Vol 3 

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet pf 

(Chandos) 

This is a really remarkable achievement. Bavouzet’s playing seems to balance personality and precision, warm individuality with service to the score. A very fine Beethoven sonata series reaches its end.

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

Adams. Harris Violin Concertos 

Tamsin Waley-Cohen vn BBC Symphony Orchestra / Andrew Litton 

(Signum) 

An outstanding performance of the Adams Concerto, but it’s the addition of the beautifully played Harris Concerto which really makes this disc something special. 

Our Audio Editor writes: 'From the fanfare-like opening of the Harris violin concerto tempering down to the lyrical sound of the first entrance of the solo instrument, this recording grabs the listener’s attention. The hi-res 96kHz/24bit release from Qobuz makes the violin all the more thrilling, and the flow of the Adams is captivating. All-British forces, all-American music – yet this set works beautifully, helped in no small part by the superb recording.

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

Dvořák Slavonic Dances 

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra / Jiří Bělohlávek

(Decca) 

There’s a rich depth to these gloriously played Slavonic Dances, on which Bělohlávek floats the melodies with a wonderful sense of natural rhythm. 

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

Vivaldi Concerti per due violini 

Giuliano Carmignola, Amandine Beyer vns Gli Incogniti 

(Harmonia Mundi) 

A glance at the musicians behind this release tells all you need to know: a compelling sense of dance, and edge-of-seat drama. Very enjoyable indeed. 

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

Vivaldi. R Panufnik ‘A Violin for All Seasons’

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Tasmin Little vn 

(Chandos) 

Vivaldi-playing which draws on a modern orchestra’s weight, not to mention on Little’s virtuosity, while in Panufnik’s piece we’re taken on a rewarding and culturally rich journey. 

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

Krogulski Piano Octet Nowakowski Piano Quintet

Nelson Goerner pf et al

(Fryderyk Chopin Institute) 

Our critic cites this as ‘the most enjoyable chamber music disc – and the most interesting discovery’ he’s heard in some time. What better encouragement to hear for yourself? 

Read the review 

 

F Couperin Ariane consolée par Bacchus 

Les Talens Lyriques / Christophe Rousset 

(Aparté) 

‘A landmark recording to treasure’ writes our critic, and while this lost cantata is a must-hear for Couperin devotees, the atmospheric performance makes it equally so for all.

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

Mozart Mass in C minor, K427 

Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki 

(BIS) 

Masaaki Suzuki offers a wonderfully played, powerfully paced and superbly sung Mass in C minor, the prayerfulness, passion and joy palpable throughout. 

Read the review 

 

‘As Dreams’ 

Norwegian Soloists’ Choir, Oslo Sinfonietta / Grete Pedersen 

(BIS) 

Between moments of gripping high-wire skill and ethereal, fragile sound worlds, this is a fascinating, challenging and beautifully recorded example of just what a choir is capable of. 

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

‘Fire Music’ 

Capella de la Torre / Katharina Bäuml 

(DHM) 

Rhythmically gripping, playful, and entirely infectious – this disc from Capella de la Torre is early music at its most earthy, engaging and enjoyable. 

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

DVD/blu-ray

Elgar The Dream of Gerontius 

Sols incl Baker, Pears & Shirley-Quirk; London Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra / Sir Adrian Boult 

(ICA Classics) 

Our letters pages have expressed great excitement about this release of Boult conducting Gerontius in Canterbury Cathedral in 1968: here it is, and it doesn’t disappoint!  

Read the review

 

Reissue/archive

Bizet Carmen 

Beecham 

(Warner Classics) 

Picking a single set from these attractively presented opera reissues wasn’t easy, but this Carmen is an excellent example.   

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