Gramophone's Recordings of the Year: 2000-2014

Gramophone Tue 19th May 2015

Fifteen of the best classical music recordings of the 21st century, with links to the original Gramophone reviews

Every year at the Gramophone Awards our panel of critics vote for one of the category-winning recordings to be named the Recording of the Year. This is the ultimate accolade for any recording and Gramophone's strongest possible recommendation. The list below gathers all of the Recordings of the Year since 2000 with links to the original Gramophone reviews and opportunities to listen to the albums via Qobuz. 

2000

Mahler Symphony No 10

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Simon Rattle

(EMI/Warner Classics)

'Rattle makes the strongest possible case for an astonishing piece of revivification that only the most die-hard purists will resist. Strongly recommended.' Read review

2001

Vaughan Williams A London Symphony

LSO / Richard Hickox

(Chandos)

'Hickox and the LSO respond with an unquenchable spirit, generous flexibility and tender affection that suit VW’s admirably ambitious inspiration to a T, and Chandos’s sound is big and bold to match. Quite simply, an essential purchase for anyone remotely interested in British music.' Read review

2002

Saint-Saëns Complete works for piano and orchestra

Stephen Hough pf CBSO / Sakari Oramo

(Hyperion)

'Trying to single out a quality which makes Hough particularly admirable‚ I think it should be his acuteness of ear in all matters relating to sonority and balance. He conveys what makes these pieces tick: fine workmanship‚ fantasy‚ colour‚ and the various ways Saint­-Saëns was so good at combining piano and orchestra.' Read review

2003

Schumann String Quartets Nos 1 and 3

Zehetmair Quartet

(ECM New Series)

'Theirs is an agitated, combustible and loving view of Schumann, a credible trip into his troubled world that reflects older playing styles not by exaggerating or abandoning vibrato but by constantly varying tone, tempo, bow pressure and modes of attack.' Read review

2004

Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro

Sols; Ghent Collegium Vocale; Concerto Köln / René Jacobs

(Harmonia Mundi)

'Jacobs offers an orchestral balance quite unlike what we are used to. Those who specially relish a Karajan or a Solti will hardly recognise the work, with its strongly wind-biased orchestral balance: you simply do not hear the violins as the ‘main line’ of the music.' Read review

2005

Bach Cantatas, Vol 1

Sols; Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists / Sir John Eliot Gardiner

(SDG)

'As for the interpretations, they are consistently fine – often superb, in fact – with surprisingly few wrong steps or disappointments, especially given the unusually gruelling performance schedule that produced them.' Read review

2006

Mahler Symphony No 6

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Claudio Abbado

(DG)

'Abbado’s sweetly attenuated string sound is just as beautiful as Karajan’s more saturated sonority, a testament to the chamber-like imperatives of his latter-day music-making, not to mention the advantage of adequate rehearsal time!' Read review

2007

Brahms Piano Concertos Nos 1 and 2

Nelson Freire pf Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly

(Decca)

'This is the Brahms piano concerto set we’ve been waiting for. Nelson Freire and Riccardo Chailly offer interpretations that triumphantly fuse immediacy and insight, power and lyricism, and incandescent virtuosity that leaves few details unturned, yet always with the big picture in clear sight.' Read review

2008

Beethoven Piano Sonatas, Vol 4

Paul Lewis pf

(Harmonia Mundi)

'Like me, you may well cherish your beloved sets by Schnabel, Kempff and Brendel (to name but three), but Lewis surely gives you the best of all possible worlds; one devoid of idiosyncrasy yet of a deeply personal musicianship.' Read review

2009

Ravel. Debussy. Fauré String Quartets

Ebène Quartet

(Erato)

'There’s a fluidity to the Ebène’s playing of both works that suits the music’s character, a mood of wistfulness too that the Ravel especially benefits from. This improvisatory approach is hardly surprising from an ensemble that is also celebrated for its jazz performances.' Read review

2010

Byrd Infelix ego – Byrd Edition, Vol 13

The Cardinall's Musick / Andrew Carwood

(Hyperion)

'There is and has been much to praise, and at a time when early music ensembles are finding it increasingly difficult to get concerts or make records, the commitment of singers and label alike is a cause for gratitude, perhaps even optimism.' Read review

2011

Dvořák String Quartets Nos 12 and 13

Pavel Haas Quartet

(Supraphon)

'The Pavel Haas Quartet play with plenty of feeling and they also relish the rhythmic cut and thrust of the Molto vivace third movement, capturing to perfection the more relaxed Trio’s sunny spirit.' Read review

2012

Schütz Musicalische exequien

Vox Luminis / Lionel Meunier

(Ricercar)

'Though one might expect from that a certain coolness, their singing produces music-making of intimate, aching beauty. The recorded sound, gently resonant, is perfect.' Read review

2013

Bartók. Ligeti. Eötvös Violin Concertos

Patricia Kopatchinskaja vn Ensemble Modern; Hessen Radio Symphony Orchestra / Peter Eötvös

(Naïve)

'Patricia Kopatchinskaja performs these three concertos by composers born in Hungary with her trademark panache and the recorded balance gives her all due prominence. The importance of the orchestral contribution can’t be denied, however, and there’s an impressive sense of common purpose and collaborative zeal throughout.' Read review

2014

Brahms The Symphonies

Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly

(Decca)

'During his eight-year reign in Leipzig, the Gewandhaus Orchestra has become as articulate a Brahms ensemble as any in Austro-Germany. It helps, of course, that Chailly himself is a trusted Brahmsian.' Read review

Further reading Gramophone's Recordings of the Year: 1990-1999

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