The Best Classical Music Albums of 2022 (So Far)
Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Our guide to the most outstanding new classical music albums of 2022 - so far! 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. The list will continue to grow as the year progresses, giving you a frequently-updated guide to the most life-enhancing classical music albums available today.
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
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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