The best new classical albums: Awards issue 2018

Gramophone Fri 14th September 2018

Martin Cullingford’s pick of the finest recordings from this month’s reviews

Recording of the month

Rossini Semiramide 

Sols; Opera Rara Chorus; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / Sir Mark Elder 

(Opera Rara) 

A superb triumph for Opera Rara, a label whose championship of (often neglected) operas – by brilliant performers and in studio conditions – can’t be commended highly enough.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Brahms Four Symphonies 

Berlin Staatskapelle / Daniel Barenboim 

(DG) 

Barenboim’s superb leadership of the Berlin Staatskapelle – primarily an opera orchestra – reaps more dividends here in powerful performances of Brahms’s orchestral masterpieces.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

Audio Editor Andrew Everard writes: 'Barenboim’s Brahms cycle sounds big, lush and romantic, all characteristics heard to the maximum in the 96kHz/24bit Qobuz download, which also has wonderfully effortless dynamics and some very powerful bass. Every detail is apparent, from the climaxes right down to the tiniest nuances, making this a real demonstration-quality set – as one has come to expect from the Barenboim/Staatskapelle/DG combination. It’s very delicious stuff!'

 

Korngold. Nielsen Violin Concertos 

Jiyoon Lee vn Odense Symphony Orchestra / Kristiina Poska 

(Orchid) 

Our One to Watch in July more than justifies us drawing your attention to her: a Nielsen and Korngold pairing of real drama and virtuosity.  

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Stenhammar Symphony No 2, etc 

Antwerp Symphony Orchestra / Christian Lindberg 

(BIS) 

The scope and moving themes of Swedish composer Stenhammar’s symphony are brilliantly conveyed here by Christian Lindberg and his Antwerp musicians. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Gál. Shostakovich Piano Trios 

Briggs Piano Trio 

(Avie) 

This wonderful album is another beautifully played addition to the Hans Gál catalogue, early 20th-century chamber music which charms and engages throughout. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Paganini Sonatas for Violin and Guitar 

Fabio Biondi vn Giangiacomo Pinardi gtr 

(Glossa) 

Both the instruments – violin and guitar – and interpreters feel delightfully paired here, in sound and in spirit. A lovely and lively listen.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

JS Bach Six Solo Cello Suites 

Yo-Yo Ma vc 

(Sony Classical) 

The acclaimed virtuoso’s third traversal on record through Bach’s profound Solo Cello Suites is one rich in character and sensitivity; personal and deeply reflective music-making.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Lourié Piano Works 

Christian Erny pf 

(Ars Produktion) 

This is a captivating programme of refined and evocatively coloured piano works by the 20th-century Russian composer, beautifully played by Christian Erny and captured in a gorgeous-sounding acoustic.  

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Debussy ‘Harmonie du soir’ 

Sophie Karthäuser sop Stéphane Degout bar Alain Planès, Eugene Asti pf 

(Harmonia Mundi) 

As ‘Debussy year’ passes into its autumnal phase, here’s a delightful vocal addition to the celebrations; singing and playing throughout are wonderful.  

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

‘Decades – A Century of Song’ 

Sols; Malcolm Martineau pf 

(Vivat) 

Vivat’s imaginative approach to exploring 19th-century song, a decade at a time, reaches the 1830s: nine composers, three languages, a number of rarities and some outstanding singing.  

Read the review 

 

DVD/blu-ray

Dean Hamlet 

Sols; Glyndebourne Opera; London Philharmonic Orchestra / Vladimir Jurowski

(Opus Arte) 

A new opera which earned much praise when premiered at Glyndebourne last year – not least for its lead performer, Allan Clayton – is now available to watch at home.  

Read the review 

 

Reissue/archive

Busoni Piano Concerto 

Pietro Scarpini pf Bavarian Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra / Rafael Kubelík 

(First Hand) 

Rob Cowan declares this ‘an essential purchase’ for anyone interested in Busoni.

Read the review

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