The Best Classical Music Albums of 2022
Monday, December 12, 2022
Our guide to the most outstanding new classical music albums of 2022. Featuring sensational new versions of Bach's St Matthew Passion, Beethoven's symphonies, Vivaldi's violin concertos and much more
This is our guide to the best classical music albums reviewed in Gramophone magazine in 2022.
Each album is linked to the original Gramophone review in Gramophone's Reviews Database. The best way to explore new classical recordings is to subscribe to Gramophone magazine. Find out more at: magsubscriptions.com
Beethoven Symphony No 3, ‘Eroica’ (transcr Liszt) Mozart Piano Concerto No 20, K466 (transcr Alkan)
Paul Wee pf
Pianist Paul Wee proves himself a master of these treacherously demanding transcriptions, sweeping aside the technical challenges to present these great works with consummate musicianship.
Brahms Symphony No 1 Dvořák Symphony No 6
Bamberg Symphony Orchestra / Jakub Hrůša
Mahler Symphony No 9
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle
Sir Simon Rattle brings to Mahler’s Ninth the sense of occasion, unique in the hearing and fresh in the discovery, that all great performances of this music should convey.
Beethoven. Franck. Schumann Violin Sonatas
Renaud Capuçon vn Martha Argerich pf
A record of a poignant occasion for two of today’s finest artists, captured together in an evening of wonderful music-making.
Shostakovich. Walton String Quartets
I was instantly stuck by the sheer vividness – both the compellingly committed playing and the immediacy of sound – of this superb chamber album from the Albion Quartet.
‘A Golden Cello Decade’
Steven Isserlis vc Connie Shih pf
Any programme by cellist Steven Isserlis is always chosen, prepared and ultimately performed with devotion; joined here by pianist Connie Shih, this is another wonderful album.
Chaminade ‘Piano Music, Vol 2’
Mark Viner pf
Wonderful music, performed with charm, affection and, when required, fabulous virtuosity, by pianist Mark Viner; a superb follow up to his equally impressive first volume of Chaminade.
Clare Hammond pf
The splendid music of this fascinating French composer, in many ways ahead of its time, deserves to be far better known – and receives gloriously eloquent advocacy from pianist Clare Hammond.
Cristo Missa Salve regina. Motets
Cupertinos / Luís Toscana
Gramophone Early Music Award-winners in 2019, Luís Toscano’s Cupertinos offer us a beautiful recording of Marian works by Renaissance Portuguese composer Pedro de Cristo.
Bruno de Sá counterten Il Pomo d’Oro / Francesco Corti
Sopranist Bruno de Sá demonstrates his brilliance of voice in a programme of 18th-century music written for castrato, with marvellous support from Il Pomo d’Oro.
Byrd Psalmes, Songs and Sonnets
The Sixteen / Harry Christophers (Coro)
As we look ahead to Byrd’s 400th anniversary next year, here’s a wonderful recording of his last full publication, a mixture of styles from psalms to madrigals, gloriously performed by The Sixteen.
Bruckner Symphony No 4
London Symphony Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle (LSO Live)
‘A beautifully articulated, free-flowing performance’ is how Richard Osborne describes this fascinating and perceptive account of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony.
Schubert Symphonies Nos 8 & 9
Le Concert des Nations / Jordi Savall (Alia Vox)
Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations follow their excellent Beethoven cycle with a period pairing of two Schubert symphonies, both receiving performances of persuasive power.
‘The Playhouse Sessions’
Barokksolistene / Bjarte Eike (Rubicon)
Bjarte Eike and his Barokksolistene approach this music and its cultural context with open hearts and minds. Catch Bjarte Eike discussing the album on a recent Gramophone podcast too.
Debussy ‘Early and Late Piano Pieces’
Steven Osborne pf (Hyperion)
Each new album from pianist Steven Osborne offers beautifully prepared interpretations with something distinctive to say about the repertoire – and this latest Debussy recital is no exception.
Szymanowski Piano Works
Krystian Zimerman pf (DG)
It is always a privilege to hear Krystian Zimerman on record, and this programme of Szymanowski’s music – recorded either side of a 15-year interval – is predictably stunning.
Steelant Two Requiems
CantoLX; B’Rock Orchestra / Frank Agsteribbe (Pentatone)
Two Requiems from the 17th-century composer Philippe van Steelant show the breadth of his style and, in this excellent recording, make a strong case for his music.
The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge / Andrew Nethsingha (Signum)
‘Psalm-singing informs everything else we do,’ says Andrew Nethsinga; this beautifully sung recording from St John’s takes us into that powerful and poetic heart of choral life.
Donizetti. Rossini ‘French Bel Canto Arias’
Lisette Oropesa sop Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra / Corrado Rovaris (Pentatone)
Here is a superb album of bel canto arias either written or revised for Paris performances from a star soprano.
Handel Amadigi di Gaula
Sols; Early Opera Company / Christian Curnyn (Chandos)
A lesser-known Handel opera, Amadigi di Gaula, given excellent advocacy by some superb soloists, Christian Curnyn and players, and our new Label of the Year.
Meyerbeer Robert le diable
Sols; Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine / Marc Minkowski
Initially a musical and theatrical sensation, but now rarely heard – surely something that this brilliantly performed recording, conducted by Marc Minkowski, will do much to address.
Sinfonia of London / John Wilson
A sumptuous sound world from a conductor and his ensemble who, album after album, impress and delight, making us relish the details of scores and the very art of recording afresh.
Augustin Hadelich vn WDR Symphony Orchestra / Cristian Măcelaru
Augustin Hadelich offers us a programme – Britten and Prokofiev concertos, plus takes on Carmen and Tárrega – that’s beautifully thought-through and gloriously played.
Mendelssohn ‘Complete String Quartets, Vol 1’
Van Kuijk Quartet
The Paris-based Van Kuijk Quartet follow their impressive Mozart surveys with an equally compelling start to a Mendelssohn string quartet cycle, one that looks to be well worth following.
JS Bach Six Solo Violin (Cello) Suites
Giuliano Carmignola vn
Such is their beauty, the Bach cello suites have often been borrowed by others to sublime effect; this wonderful set by violinist Giuliano Carmignola reveals all their spirituality.
Saint-Saëns Piano Transcriptions
Cyprien Katsaris pf
A chance to celebrate the music of Saint-Saëns – as well as, as Jeremy Nicholas rightly suggests in his review, the contribution made to musical life by this recording’s pianist, Cyprien Katsaris.
John Robinson org
A superbly recorded recital marking the 50th anniversary of the organ of Blackburn Cathedral from its Director of Music John Robinson, repertoire and – crucially of course – player both revealing it in all its sonic splendour.
The Marian Consort / Rory McCleery
Vicente Lusitano – a rare, and probably the first, example of a mixed-race Renaissance composer – is given hugely impressive and inspiring advocacy here, his music revealed for its variety and beauty.
Tippett The Midsummer Marriage
Sols; London Philharmonic Orchestra / Edward Gardner
Tippett’s opera is brought vividly to life by Edward Gardner, the LPO and a superb cast featuring many young British singers.
Jonas Kaufmann ten Ludovic Tézier bar Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia / Sir Antonio Pappano
A hugely enjoyable new tenor-baritone double-act album to add to your collection.
Jonathan Tetelman ten Gran Canaria Philharmonic Orchestra / Karel Mark Chichon
‘The most exciting tenor discovery to come my way since the appearance of Jonas Kaufmann,’ writes critic Mark Pullinger. What more can I add to that except to encourage you to discover him too!
JS Bach ‘Harpsichord Concertos, Vol 3’
Il Pomo d’Oro / Francesco Corti hpd
A fascinating series continues with Francesco Corti joined by colleagues – including on a second harpsichord – for Volume 3. Scintillating playing, and excellently recorded.
‘Secret Love Letters’
Lisa Batiashvili vn Philadelphia Orchestra / Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto receives a beautifully coloured performance here – just part of a compelling album from the superb Lisa Batiashvili.
Del Cinque Sonatas for Two and Three Cellos
Ludovico Minasi, Cristina Vidoni, Teodoro Baù vcs et al
Ermenegildo Del Cinque proved a joyous discovery for our esteemed critic – and for me too – thanks to this excellent advocacy.
F & F Mendelssohn Chamber Works
Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective
Another superb album from the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective, with a real rarity, and steeped throughout in a highly engaging collaborative spirit.
Prokofiev. A & N Tcherepnin Piano Works
Alexander Gadjiev pf
Alexander Gadjiev – the second-placed pianist at last year’s Chopin Competition – further enhances his reputation with an adventurous and brilliantly played Russian programme.
Senfl Choral Works
Singer Pur; Ensemble Leones
Singer Pur offer us a vivid and characterful programme of works by Ludwig Senfl, drawing on the Swiss Renaissance composer’s sacred and secular music for a highly engaging album.
Wolf Italienisches Liederbuch
Carolyn Sampson sop Allan Clayton ten Joseph Middleton pf
Carolyn Sampson and Allan Clayton’s ability to embody and communicate characters is well matched here in Wolf by the equally poetic pianist Joseph Middleton.
Matthias Goerne bar Daniil Trifonov pf
More superb lieder from another singer of intelligence and insight, baritone Matthias Goerne, his partner here in Schumann, Brahms, Berg and others the renowned virtuoso Daniil Trifonov.
Lampe The Dragon of Wantley
Sols; The Brook Street Band / John Andrews
A delightful piece of 18th-century comic opera heritage, The Dragon of Wantley couldn’t ask for a better introduction to modern audiences than John Andrews’s lively performance.
Mahler Symphony No 4
Sabine Devieilhe sop Les Siècles / François-Xavier Roth (Harmonia Mundi)
Last month’s cover artist discussed the rationale behind his period-performance of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, and the results are as revelatory as we might have hoped. A wonderful recording.
Schubert Symphonies Nos 8 & 9
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Herbert Blomstedt (DG)
Herbert Blomstedt, now 94, draws on a lifetime of Schubertian wisdom, experience and affection in what David Threasher calls ‘a rather special recording’.
‘Jurowski Conducts Stravinsky, Vol 1’
London Philharmonic Orchestra / Vladimir Jurowski (LPO)
Magnificent interpretations of The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, just two parts of a generous opening to a three-album series.
‘A Cembalo certato a Violino solo’
Johannes Pramsohler vn Philippe Grisvard hpd (Audax)
This intelligently programmed set places Bach’s six sonatas for violin and harpsichord in the context of his time with first recordings of many works from the era.
John-Henry Crawford vc Victor Santiago Asuncion pf (Orchid)
John-Henry Crawford’s love affair with Latin American music was sparked by winning First Prize in Mexico’s 2019 Carlos Prieto Competition, and this delightful release is the result.
Haydn Piano Sonatas, Vol 11
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet pf (Chandos)
A brilliant series ends on a note worthy of all the previous volumes – Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s desire to share his affection for Haydn’s music with us is infectious. A superb survey.
D Scarlatti Keyboard Sonatas
Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy pf (Piano Classics)
‘A deeply fulfilling and beautifully engineered Scarlatti programme,’ writes Jed Distler of this album from Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy. Do listen to it.
Blackford Mirror of Perfection
Britten Sinfonia / David Hill (Lyrita)
Two works by Richard Blackford – one a second recording, and wonderfully done at that, the second a response to Covid – earn admiration from our critic Guy Rickards.
Massenet ‘Songs with Orchestra’
Sols; Paris Chamber Orchestra / Hervé Niquet (Bru Zane)
A stylishly performed recital of 25 of Massenet’s songs, only four previously recorded, by a vocal line-up and conductor truly alive to the composer’s sound world.
Mouton Missa Faulte d’argent
The Brabant Ensemble / Stephen Rice (Hyperion)
There’s a vivid sense of excitement in the Brabant Ensemble’s approach to Mouton’s music, the late-medieval works full of variety, character and individuality.
Fauré Complete Songs
Cyrille Dubois ten Tristan Raës pf (Aparté)
An ambitious project – all of Fauré’s 103 songs recorded by the same singer – but one realised with real beauty and style by tenor Cyrille Dubois and pianist Tristan Raës. A superb achievement.
Beethoven Symphony No 6 Stucky Silent Spring
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Manfred Honeck (Reference Recordings)
Manfred Honeck and his Pittsburgh players offer a fascinating Pastoral and thought-provoking pairing, in first-class sound.
Liszt Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2. Piano Sonata
Alexander Ullman pf BBC Symphony Orchestra / Andrew Litton (Rubicon)
Alexander Ullman’s strong desire to present Liszt’s music as the extraordinary art it is, is evident throughout this wonderful album.
Beethoven Two Cello Sonatas, Op 102. Bagatelles
Roel Dieltiens vc Andreas Staier fp (Harmonia Mundi)
A glorious recording that reminds us of the many different styles and sound worlds period performance can delight us with, from two really excellent interpreters.
Holmboe String Quartets, Vol 2
Nightingale Quartet (Dacapo)
The brilliant Nightingale Quartet continue their exploration and advocacy of Holmboe’s music with this beautifully performed programme, including his final thoughts on the medium.
Hahn ‘Poèmes & Valses’
Pavel Kolesnikov pf (Hyperion)
A poetic survey of Hahn miniatures from pianist Pavel Kolesnikov which, writes Michelle Assay, brings us ‘closer to the core of these pieces than any other available recording’.
‘This is America’
Johnny Gandelsman vn (In a Circle)
Twenty four new works by American and US‑based composers – 21 of them commissioned for the project – rich in diversity but united by interpretative beauty and belief from violinist Johnny Gandelsman.
Ravel ‘Cantates pour le Prix de Rome’
Sols; Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire / Pascal Rophé (BIS)
The judges may not have crowned these early Ravel works with the Prix de Rome, but now, thanks to these superb soloists and performances, we can make up own minds!
The Sixteen / Harry Christophers (Coro)
A programme of music old and new built around the Meditations of John Henry Newman, and performed with customary power and precision by the ever-impressive Harry Christophers and The Sixteen.
‘Oh, ma belle brunette’
Reinoud Van Mechelen ten A Nocte Temporis (Alpha)
Baroque pastoral charm from Reinoud Van Mechelen, whose tenor voice offers listeners both grace and intimacy as we escape into a wonderful world of song.
Ravel Piano Concertos. Songs
Cédric Tiberghien pf Stéphane Degout bar Les Siècles / François-Xavier Roth
An album that wonderfully reveals Ravel’s originality; richly coloured pianism, performed on a beautiful sounding 1892 Pleyel, is echoed in Les Siècles’s period playing and Stéphane Degout’s songs.
Sibelius Symphony No 7
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Nicholas Collon
A Sibelius programme prepared with deep thought, a powerful reading of the final symphony sitting perfectly with the two accompanying suites.
Coleridge-Taylor Chamber Works
Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective
Three works written by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor aged 18, hardly heard until recent years, but given splendid advocacy by the ever exploratory Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective.
David Orlowsky cl David Bergmüller lute
An unexpected – and unexpectedly beguiling – album that blends the voices of the clarinet and lute together with extraordinary success, in a manner as mysterious as it is riveting.
Bolcom The Complete Rags
Marc-André Hamelin pf
A completely triumphant – and entirely authoritative – survey of William Bolcom’s rags, performances filled to the brim with all the character these glorious pieces require.
Messiaen Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus
Bertrand Chamayou pf
A deeply spiritual journey through a deeply spiritual work, a highly personal project by our recent Recording of the Year-winning pianist, and one you can read more about in the July issue.
Champion Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena
Cappella Pratensis / Stratton Bull
A fascinating exploration of performance practice and the role of improvisation in early music, but most important of all, the resulting recording is strikingly splendid.
Josquin ‘Tant vous aime …’
Doulce Mémoire / Denis Raisin Dadre
The atmosphere and sound world created by Doulce Mémoire’s gloriously presented performances of Josquin songs instantly transports us to an era far from our own.
‘Battle Cry – She Speaks’
Helen Charlston mez Toby Carr theorbo
Helen Charlston has crafted a superb programme of music old and new which perfectly plays to her strengths, greatly enhanced by the rapport shared with theorbo player Toby Carr.
Héloïse Werner sop
One of the most imaginative talents among today’s young generation of singers and composers, Héloïse Werner’s debut solo album explores language via vocal virtuosity, humour and heartfelt music-making.
Handel La Resurrezione
Sols; The English Concert / Harry Bicket
Handel’s operatic Easter oratorio gets a beautifully elegant reading from Harry Bicket, who leads an excellent English Concert and a superb all-British set of soloists in this truly wonderful recording.
Read more: Handel's message for the modern world
Beethoven Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 3
Kristian Bezuidenhout fp Freiburg Baroque Orchestra / Pablo Heras-Casado
Kristian Bezuidenhout completes his super set of the Beethoven concertos with this joyously spirited pairing of Nos 1 and 3.
Saint-Saëns Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2
Alexandre Kantorow pf Tapiola Sinfonietta / Jean-Jacques Kantorow
Another concerto set completion, and one that reveals exactly why Alexandre Kantorow graces this issue’s cover.
Weill Symphony No 2. Shostakovich Symphony No 5
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra / Lahav Shani
A fabulous opportunity to hear Kurt Weill’s Second Symphony from young conductor Lahav Shani, partnered with a dramatic reading of Shostakovich Symphony No 5.
Schnittke. Shostakovich. Silvestrov ‘Outcast’
‘A genuinely remarkable disc,’ writes Ivan Moody of the Matangi Quartet’s recording, their playing revealing a powerful and vivid sense of focus in a well-chosen programme.
Beethoven. Brahms. Mozart ‘Variations’
Simon Trpčeski pf
Rachmaninov Piano Sonata No 1. Moments musicaux
Steven Osborne pf
Where today would one turn ‘for more idiomatic, more intelligent, or more beautiful Rachmaninov-playing’ asks Patrick Rucker after hearing Steven Osborne’s new release?
Read more: Top 10 Sergei Rachmaninov recordings
‘An Old Belief’
The Sixteen / Harry Christophers
A hugely varied programme musically and powerfully united thematically, this album shows the impeccable approach to interpretation Harry Christophers and The Sixteen bring to everything they perform.
‘A Room of Mirrors’
Emiliano Gonzalez Toro, Zachary Wilder tens Ensemble I Gemelli
From the opening number, Emiliano Gonzalez Toro, fellow tenor Zachary Wilder, and Ensemble I Gemelli have us gripped with irresistible music-making.
Véronique Gens, Sandrine Piau sops Le Concert de la Loge / Julien Chauvin
Two of today’s finest sopranos, Véronique Gens and Sandrine Piau, reveal their complete mastery of bringing this sort of repertoire to compelling theatrical life.
Beethoven ‘Diabelli’ Variations
Mitsuko Uchida pf
This revelatory recording of the Diabelli Variations – Mitsuko Uchida’s first solo album for almost a decade – stands out as a dazzling addition to this work’s rich interpretative history. A superb release.
‘Mozart Momentum 1786’
Mahler Chamber Orchestra / Leif Ove Andsnes pf
Volume two of ‘Mozart Momentum’ is every bit as brilliant as the first; focusing on works from 1786, it’s as rich in collaborative spirit as in pianistic refinement.
JS Bach ‘The Complete Works for Keyboard, Vol 6’
Benjamin Alard clav/hpd
Book one of The Well-Tempered Clavier is brought to us by Benjamin Alard on a remarkable sounding (and looking) harpsichord. A superb performance.
JS Bach Goldberg Variations
Klára Würtz pf
Klára Würtz’s Goldbergs explores Bach’s extraordinary and revered set of variations with selfless commitment and personality, bringing delicacy, drama and architectural splendour to this great music.
Handel ‘Winged Hands’
Francesco Corti hpd
Our second harpsichord album of the month, and this time it’s Handel, and Francesco Corti, a player who can draw glorious interpretative colour from both his instrument and his chosen repertoire.
Schubert Piano Sonatas Nos 13 & 18
Stephen Hough pf
Really lovely playing from Stephen Hough, who offers us the most beautifully shaped sound, and a vision of Schubert’s music that feels as exploratory as it does rich in understanding of those wonderful works.
R Clarke ‘Sempiternam’
State Choir Latvija / Māris Sirmais
This, the second release by the Métier label devoted to the music of Rhona Clarke, perfectly pairs the composer’s choral music with the superb State Choir Latvija’s richly resonant sound.
Jóhannsson Drone Mass
Theatre of Voices; American Contemporary Music Ensemble / Paul Hillier
The compelling sound world of the late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson is powerfully captured in this epic work.
Listen to Paul Hillier discuss Drone Mass on the Gramophone Podcast:
Nesbit Sacred Choral Music
The Choir of King’s College London / Joseph Fort
Edward Nesbit’s music entrances with a distinctive voice that pairs a mysterious melodic beauty, superbly sung by Ruby Hughes, with a beautifully crafted texture.
Vaughan Williams On Wenlock Edge and Other Songs
Nicky Spence ten Julius Drake pf Timothy Ridout va Piatti Quartet
Nicky Spence and colleagues deliver this set of Vaughan Williams songs with the passion and conviction of true storytellers.
JS Bach St Matthew Passion
Sols; Pygmalion / Raphaël Pichon
This recording of Bach’s St Matthew Passion has extraordinary impact – rich in remarkable singing which conveys an intense humanity, and a superb sense of pace and drama, all beautifully recorded.
Lapland Chamber Orchestra / John Storgårds
The sound world of Abrahamsen’s Schnee – ‘snow’ – is beguiling in its balance of mysterious fragility and strength, and masterfully performed and recorded here.
Gershwin. Rachmaninov Rhapsodies
Martin James Bartlett pf London Philharmonic Orchestra / Joshua Weilerstein
Martin James Bartlett makes a superb statement with playing of joy and virtuosity.
Listen to Martin James Bartlett discuss 'Rhapsody' on the Gramophone Podcast:
Nielsen. Sibelius Violin Concertos
Johan Dalene vn Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra / John Storgårds
The violinist Johan Dalene further impresses with performances of two great concertos that sit among the very finest.
Vivaldi L’estro armonico JS Bach Concertos after L’estro armonico
Concerto Italiano / Rinaldo Alessandrini
‘I can’t remember when I last enjoyed a Vivaldi album as much as this,’ writes Charlotte Gardner: discover it for yourself!
Sibelius Complete Symphonies
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra / Klaus Mäkelä
This is an extraordinary debut from a remarkable young conductor; Klaus Mäkelä offering us an absolutely compelling journey through Sibelius’s symphonies.
● Klaus Mäkelä interview – ‘You don’t have to play for the hall; you just have to seduce the microphones’: Still in his twenties, the Oslo Philharmonic’s Chief Conductor Klaus Mäkelä is remarkably clear-sighted about what he wants to achieve and how – even after lockdown required a different approach to recording his debut album of the Sibelius symphonies, writes Andrew Mellor.
Mendelssohn String Quintets
Doric Quartet with Timothy Ridout va
The Doric Quartet regularly impress, their collegiate sense of shared vision evident in drama and delicacy alike; this Chandos set of Mendelssohn quintets is as fine as we’d hope and expect.
Bruhns ‘Cantatas & Organ Works, Vol 1’
Yale Institute of Sacred Music / Masaaki Suzuki
Masaaki Suzuki – always a brilliant guide for us in the major musical figures – here introduces us to the lesser-known Nicolaus Bruhns, and it’s an invitation well worth accepting.
Asmik Grigorian sop Lukas Geniušas pf
From the opening bars of each song, Asmik Grigorian brings passion, personality and drama to these Rachmaninov gems, matched at every step by Lukas Geniušas’s superb pianism.
Emőke Baráth sop Artaserse / Philippe Jaroussky
A fabulous soprano of our own age pays tribute to two stars of Handel’s day, and in so doing offers a wonderful programme of arias, spell-binding in its theatricality and virtuosity.
Leclair. Locatelli. Vivaldi Violin Concertos
Théotime Langlois de Swarte vn Les Ombres
A name already familiar in this space from a re-creation of a Proust recital (read the review), Théotime Langlois de Swarte’s glorious new album is Baroque music-making at its most beautiful and joyful.
Sols; Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz / Modestas Pitrėnas
A superbly performed selection of Dohnányi works from players entirely immersed in his musical voice, led by a conductor who inspires them all the way.
Ravel Orchestral Works
Sinfonia of London / John Wilson
John Wilson brings his extraordinary ability to find the colour and soul in an orchestral score to bear on Ravel: together with his hand-picked soloists he offers us ravishing riches indeed.
Moeran Chamber Works
That Moeran’s music means so much to the players of the Fidelio Trio is clear from the very beginning of this delightful album, the lyrical lines delivered with evident affection, as well as musical excellence.
‘Horn & Piano’
Teunis van der Zwart hn Alexander Melnikov fp
What a feast of sounds! Teunis van der Zwart’s natural horn and Alexander Melnikov’s fortepiano offer us a captivating and wholly glorious tribute to the 18th-century virtuoso Giovanni Punto.
Bacewicz Piano Works
Peter Jablonski pf
Following up his superb Stanchinsky album last year, Peter Jablonski turns his attention to Bacewicz, offering equally fine advocacy to a composer whose music is coming to be much more widely recognised.
Simon Johnson org
An extraordinary instrument – that of St Paul’s Cathedral, London – in repertoire perfectly chosen to show off its sonic splendour, all performed by an artist of formidable skill and musicality.
JS Bach St John Passion
Sols; Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists / John Eliot Gardiner
‘An immersive Passion which takes no prisoners’, says Jonathan Freeman‑Attwood of this performance, from one of the foremast Bach conductors of our age.
Joyce DiDonato mez Il Pomo d’Oro / Maxim Emelyanychev
An album to focus us on our relationship to nature, delivered with passion by Joyce DiDonato and her colleagues – a powerful example of how music can relate so well to our wider world.
● Joyce DiDonato’s bold new musical mission – ‘I’m not really interested in superficiality right now, there’s plenty of that’: DiDonato’s new project asks us to reconnect with the natural world, finds Martin Cullingford – and what better way to do that than simply to stop and listen?
Katharina Konradi sop Trio Gaspard
Kyrgyzstan soprano Katharina Konradi and Trio Gaspard offer us a diverse range of Russian-related works spanning centuries – from Beethoven to Auerbach, via Weinberg – all brilliantly performed.
Beethoven ‘Révolution, Vol 2’ Symphonies Nos 6-9
Le Concert des Nations / Jordi Savall
This is a thrilling, physical, probingly musical and invigoratingly alive-feeling period performance set of Beethoven symphonies, and a triumphant second half of conductor Jordi Savall’s full cycle.
Respighi. Schoenberg. R Strauss ‘Métamorphoses nocturnes’
Appassionato / Mathieu Herzog
Extraordinary string sound here from the former Ébène Quartet member’s ensemble.
Brahms Clarinet Sonatas
Michael Collins cl Stephen Hough pf
The third recording of the Brahms’s Clarinet sonatas from Michael Collins – see the January issue for his reasons for returning to the works – and a very beautifully performed one too.
Weinberg ‘Light in Darkness’
Linus Roth vn et al
Linus Roth’s invaluable contribution to the Weinberg discography is here added to with another fine album, encompassing most of the works involving violin he’d not previously recorded.
CPE Bach Sonatas & Rondos
Marc-André Hamelin pf
Music of the ‘maverick of the Bach dynasty’, as reviewer Michelle Assay puts it, brought splendidly to life by a master pianist in both the reflective and the rhythmically joyous pieces alike.
Liszt ‘Vol 1: Death and Transfiguration’
Kenneth Hamilton pf
Kenneth Hamilton offers a richly rewarding and brilliantly played Liszt survey, clearly deeply thought-through, and furthermore recorded on a fabulous sounding piano.
‘Maria & Maddalena’
Francesca Aspromonte sop I Barocchisti / Diego Fasolis
Music exploring the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene, communicated with compelling engagement, in a superb Baroque recital.
The Hermes Experiment
An entrancing album of songs, at times disarmingly moving, the group’s unique line-up (harp, clarinet, soprano, double bass) lending them all, despite their diversity, an intimate shared sound world.
Rameau Acante et Céphise
Les Ambassadeurs – La Grande Écurie / Alexis Kossenko
An ‘enthralling triumph’ writes reviewer David Vickers, owing as much to perfect principal casting as to the impeccable instrumental playing throughout.
Jeanine De Bique sop Concerto Köln / Luca Quintavalle
A glorious showcase for Jeanine De Bique, whose rich and characterful voice displays jaw-dropping precision in passages of thrilling virtuosity, and poignant grace in the slower numbers.
Listen to Jeanine De Bique discuss 'Mirrors' on the Gramophone Podcast:
Lise Davidsen sop Leif Ove Andsnes pf
This magazine’s admiration for the young soprano Lise Davidsen has led to a number of accolades already – and this album, on which Leif Ove Andsnes proves a perfect partner, deserves another.
Messiaen Orchestral Works
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Kent Nagano
This superb collection of large-scale works by Messiaen, including Poèmes pour Mi and a remarkable La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus‑Christ, is brilliantly recorded.
Arensky. Shostakovich Piano Trios
Trio Con Brio Copenhagen
Two trios from Shostakovich – including his extraorindary Second – and one from Arensky, played with compelling conviction by Trio Con Brio Copenhagen.
Bartók String Quartets, Vol 2
Incredibly vivid Bartók-playing from the Ragazze Quartet, full of gripping physicality (superbly captured) which always seems to probe the music’s extremes in a way which feels utterly enticing.
Saint-Saëns ‘Chamber Music with Winds’
Soloists of the Orchestre de Paris
A truly delightful contribution to Saint-Saëns anniversary events – a survey of his chamber music for wind instrument, from the players of the Orchestre de Paris.
‘Sol & Pat’
Patricia Kopatchinskaja vn Sol Gabetta vc
Two brilliantly individual soloists bring their personalities to a partnership (and to incredibly diverse repertoire!) and an album that delights from beginning to end.
‘Time Traveler’s Suite’
Inon Barnatan pf
A fascinating and thought-provoking piece of programming – spanning the Baroque to the 21st century – that works wonderfully, thanks of course to Inon Barnatan’s hugely impressive pianism.
Monteverdi ‘Daylight – Stories of Songs, Dances and Loves’
Concerto Italiano / Rinaldo Alessandrini
A sequel to Concerto Italiano’s 2017 album of nocturnal-themed madrigals again spans Monteverdi’s life to build an inspired recital.
Cecilia Bartoli mez Basel Chamber Orchestra / Muhai Tang
These ‘Unreleased’ Cecilia Bartoli tracks date from back in 2013 – but, full as they are of the mezzo’s famed dramatic presence and jaw-dropping virtuosity, they are well worth the wait!
Handel ‘Handel’s Unsung Heroes’
Sols; La Nuova Musica / David Bates
A splendid line-up of Handel soloists – including Iestyn Davies and Lucy Crowe – joins players on equally stunning form for another triumph masterminded by conductor David Bates.
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