Editor's Choice recordings – December 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

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

Recording of the Month

Handel Partenope

Sols incl Karina Gauvin & Philippe Jaroussky; Il Pomo d’Oro / Riccardo Minasi 


Brilliant singing and thoughtful characterisation from Gauvin and Jaroussky, and a conductor in Minasi who relishes the score’s dramatic potential, make this a superb release. Read the Gramophone review / Buy from Qobuz

‘Dancing Day’

St Thomas Choir of Men & Boys / John Scott 


A moving tribute to the late John Scott’s wonderful leadership of his New York choir: Britten’s and Rutter’s celebrations of traditional carols are all beautifully performed. Read the Gramophone review / Buy from Qobuz

Bartók Chamber Works Ligeti Concertos 

Ensemble Intercontemporain / Matthias Pintscher 


A generously filled and superbly performed survey of works by Bartók and Ligeti, not least the three solo instrumental concertos by the latter. Read the Gramophone review / Buy from Qobuz

Audio Editor Andrew Everard writes: 'This two-disc set, the first fruits of a collaboration between the Outhere Group’s classical label and the Ensemble, has a programme placing plenty of demands on the recording team, but in the Qobuz 24-bit/96kHz download it’s readily apparent how well it has risen to the task, with dramatic dynamics, remarkable clarity revealing even subtlest nuances, and superb rhythmic drive and attack. It’s a challenging, exciting and totally involving listen.'

Beethoven Symphonies Nos 5 & 7 

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Manfred Honeck 

(Reference Recordings) 

A new release of two of music’s most famous (and recorded) works, but a compelling one, really worth hearing. Read the Gramophone review / Buy from Qobuz

Prokofiev. Tchaikovsky Piano Concertos 

Beatrice Rana pf Saint Cecilia Orchestra / Sir Antonio Pappano 

(Warner Classics)

The concerto debut of a young pianist garnering much praise – and on the strength of this disc, quite right too! Read the Gramophone review / Buy from Qobuz




A fascinating disc: sonatas from a late-17th-century manuscript which offer a real insight into violin music of the era. Superbly played, and featuring a wonderful-sounding chamber organ. Read the Gramophone review

JS Bach Magnificat 

Dunedin Consort / John Butt 


Another intriguing and excellently performed project from Butt and his Dunedin Consort: a delightful recreation of what Bach’s first Christmas in Leipzig might well have sounded like. Read the Gramophone review

JS Bach Mass in B minor 

Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists / Sir John Eliot Gardiner


Thirty years since his pioneering first version, Gardiner returns to re-record the mighty Mass in B minor; the impressive result draws on all his great knowledge and experience of Bach’s music. Read the Gramophone review / Buy from Qobuz

Liszt Petrarch Sonnets Shostakovich Michelangelo Songs

Dmitri Hvorostovsky bar Ivari Ilja pf


A fine communicator – not to mention a baritone of real warmth – Hvorostovsky offers powerful performances of these settings of Italian poetry. Read the Gramophone review / Buy from Qobuz

‘Arie napoletane’

Max Emanuel Cencic counterten Il Pomo d’Oro / Maxim Emelyanychev 


‘An exceptional recital,’ writes our critic; this superb countertenor brings excellent drama and emotion to a thoughtfully programmed survey of Neapolitan Baroque arias. Read the Gramophone review / Buy from Qobuz


Mahler Symphony No 7 

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly


A chance to watch Chailly and his musicians explore Mahler’s Symphony No 7 in another fine film from Accentus. Read the Gramophone review


Sibelius Historical Recordings and Rarities 

Various artists 


An excellent-value insight into some of the great maestros of the past performing Sibelius’s music. Read the Gramophone review

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