The Best Classical Music Albums Of 2023 (So Far)
Monday, December 4, 2023
All of these outstanding classical albums were Editor's Choices in Gramophone magazine and are highly recommended. If you are searching for an inspirational new recording, look no further
In every issue of Gramophone, Editor Martin Cullingford chooses 10 new releases as his Editor's Choice selection. Below, you will find all of the albums selected as Editor's Choice in 2023 – so far.
We've included links to the album reviews in Gramophone's Reviews Database, a digital archive of all of our reviews from 1983 to today. To find out more about subscribing to Gramophone and the Reviews Database, please visit: magsubscriptions.com
Debussy Études. Pour le piano, etc
Steven Osborne pf
Steven Osborne brings extraordinary colour, characterisation and imagination to this album of Debussy’s works for solo piano, and the recorded sound is absolutely superb.
Mozart Piano Concertos Nos 20 & 23
Charles Richard‑Hamelin pf Les Violons du Roy / Jonathan Cohen
From the intense opening of No 20 to the joyful arrival of No 23, Charles Richard‑Hamelin and Jonathan Cohen form a compelling Mozart partnership.
Saint-Saëns Symphonic Poems
Les Siècles / François‑Xavier Roth
The diversity of Saint-Saëns’s sound world is gloriously brought to life in a generous survey performed with elegance and insight by François-Xavier Roth and his superb ensemble Les Siècles.
Weinberg Symphony No 12
BBC Philharmonic / John Storgårds
The ongoing reappraisal of Weinberg continues with this powerful recording by John Storgårds and the BBC Philharmonic, one alert to his rich orchestral textures.
Brahms Piano Trio No 1 Krenek Trio‑Fantasie
Two early chamber works by two Viennese composers of different eras, Brahms and Krenek, beautifully played by the Feininger Trio simply embodying collaborative charm.
Sean Shibe gtr
Sean Shibe once more offers audiences a breathtaking masterclass in tone, virtuosity, drama and delicacy as he presents an exquisite exploration of South American music, by Villa‑Lobos, Ginastera and Barrios.
Rachmaninov Piano Sonata No 1 (original version)
Lukas Geniušas pf
Lukas Geniu≈as offers the original version of Rachmaninov’s First Sonata, recorded on the composer’s Steinway at his Lake Lucerne Villa: a valuable, and muscially rewarding, album.
Beethoven Missa solemnis
Sols; La Capella Nacional de Catalunya; Le Concert des Nations / Jordi Savall
Jordi Savall draws on all his experience of Beethoven’s music to offer a Missa solemnis rich in dignity, drama and devotion.
Josquin Motets & Chansons
Cut Circle / Jesse Rodin
Musique en Wallonie
This is gloriously invigorating early music singing from Cut Circle, a survey of music by Josquin presented with precision, personality, individuality and yet also an attractive sense of intimacy.
Pickard Mass in Troubled Times
BBC Singers / Martyn Brabbins
Music by John Pickard spanning his career, the highlight the thought-provoking, ambitious Mass in Troubled Times, which you can hear Pickard discuss in a recent Gramophone Podcast.
Offenbach Le princesse de Trébizonde
Sols; Opera Rara Chorus; London Philharmonic Orchestra / Paul Daniel
Offenbach’s opéra-bouffe brought wonderfully to life by an expert cast, conductor and players; another triumph for Opera Rara, the superb champion of lesser-known works.
Brahms Double Concerto
Christian Tetzlaff vn Tanja Tetzlaff vc Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin / Paavo Järvi
A wonderfully played album, dedicated to Lars Vogt by friends and collaborators.
Mahler Symphony No 1
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra / Semyon Bychkov
A highlight in an ongoing Mahler series from Semyon Bychkov, one beautifully played by the Czech Philharmonic, ever-alert to the music’s inner themes and voices.
Ravel Daphnis et Chloé
Sinfonia of London / John Wilson
Can John Wilson do no wrong? From the initial and exhaustive study of the score, to the fine studio sound, this is hugely impressive recording from a stunning ensemble and conductor.
Respighi Roman Trilogy
Orchestra Nazionale Sinfonica della RAI / Robert Treviño
This is an immensely enjoyable recording of Respighi’s ‘Roman Trilogy’, Robert Treviño capturing every element of the work’s intensity and atmosphere.
Jewish Chamber Orchestra Munich / Daniel Grossmann
A powerful performance from the Jewish Chamber Orchestra Munich under Daniel Grossmann of Weinberg; a significant addition to the composer’s catalogue.
Beethoven Piano Trios, Vol 2
Two Beethoven trios brilliantly presented by the Sitkovetsky Trio: an excellent interpretation of an earlier work in the genre, and a tender, poetic performance of the magnificent Archduke.
Sergio Tiempo pf and guests
When Sergio Tiempo’s guests here include Mischa Maisky, Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire, you know you are in for a rather special album of collaborative music-making.
Daser Missa Pater noster
An album of Ludwig Daser’s music won this year’s Early Award, and here’s a brilliant way to continue the journey of discovery into the composer’s work, with Cinquecento on excellent form.
Luzzaschi Il concerto segreto
This is superb singing from La Néréide, a young ensemble of three wonderfully matched artists, who bring a haunting beauty to the music of Italian Renaissance composer Luzzasco Luzzaschi.
Monteverdi Vespro della Beata Vergine
Pygmalion / Raphaël Pichon
‘Gripping … impactful … bursting with energy and passion’ – the words of critic Edward Breen perfectly encapsulate this riveting performance of the Monteverdi Vespers from Raphaël Pichon.
Bartók Concerto for Orchestra. Viola Concerto
Amihai Grosz va Orchestre National de Lille / Alexandre Bloch
Alexandre Bloch and his Lille players offer a brilliant Bartók pairing, revealing their shared vision and cohesion as collaborators.
Mozart Piano Concertos Nos 9 (‘Jeunehomme’) & 24
Paris Chamber Orchestra / Lars Vogt pf
A wonderful Mozart concertos album from the late Lars Vogt – a moving tribute to the joy and love he brought to music-making.
Dvořák Complete Piano Trios
Veronika Jarůšková vn Peter Jarůšek vc Boris Giltburg pf
Chamber music-making at its finest - these Dvořák trios burst with the energy and spirit that makes such shared performance a pleasure to hear and, it sounds, to play too!
Liszt Études d’exécution transcendante
Haochen Zhang pf
A kaleidoscopic range of tone, virtuosity placed at the service of an exploratory interpretation, Haochen Zhang’s Transcendental Études are a supreme achievement.
Miloš Karadaglić gtr
Miloš brings a beautiful sense of searching and reflection to this music of the Baroque – whether Bach or Boccherini, Vivaldi or Weiss – throughout a thoughtfully chosen, wonderfully personal programme.
Igor Levit pf
Every work, every bar, from the tenderest Bach to the mightiest Liszt, feels so deeply, so carefully considered – another compelling triumph from Igor Levit, one of our era’s most thought-provoking virtuosos.
Hough Missa mirabilis
London Choral Sinfonia / Michael Waldron
The range and reflectiveness, the spirituality and humanity of Stephen Hough’s choral music is wonderful explored on this beautifully performed collection.
Puccini ‘The Great Puccini’
Jonathan Tetelman ten PKF Prague Philharmonia / Carlo Rizzi
‘The Great Puccini’ from, it’s quickly clear, a great Puccinian – his beauty of tone is paired by an instinctive sense of drama.
Purcell Dido and Aeneas
Sols; La Nuova Musica / David Bates
David Bates offers superbly engaging playing from La Nuova Musica plus a luxurious cast of soloists for a theatrically thrilling performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.
Parry Scenes from Prometheus Unbound. Blest Pair of Sirens
Sarah Fox, Sarah Connolly, David Butt Philip, Neal Davies, Crouch End Festival Chorus, London Mozart Players / William Vann
Parry’s compelling response to Shelley’s lyrical drama is given a superb performance of real conviction, conducted by William Vann and with a line-up of starry soloists.
Fuchs ‘Orchestral Works, Vol 1’
Sinfonia of London / John Wilson
The ever-excellent Sinfonia of London turn their virtuosity to new music, and to richly scored, beautifully crafted works by Kenneth Fuchs – all captured in super-stylish Chandos sound.
Liszt Eine Faust-Symphonie
Staatskapelle Weimar / Kirill Karabits
The atmosphere and unfolding narrative of Liszt’s epic choral symphony are wonderfully and vividly presented here by Krill Karabits and his excellent Weimar musicians.
‘From Mannheim to Berlin’
Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde vc picc
A fabulously enjoyable opportunity to enjoy the unique sound of the violoncello piccolo, an instrument Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde clearly understands intimately and relishes.
What a thought-provoking way to crown 40 years of excellence: joined by Barbara Hannigan and Bertrand Chamayou as guests, the Emersons sound as vital at the end as they did the start of their acclaimed career.
Fauré Complete Barcarolles and Nocturnes
Marc-André Hamelin pf
Hamelin’s survey of Fauré’s complete Barcarolles and Nocturnes allows us to hear and investigate these fascinating works in the most impressive pianism imaginable.
Sinfonia of London / John Wilson
John Wilson’s second appearance this month: Oklahoma! presented in full, and every single second infused with immense care, love and belief in its place as a pivotal 20th-century work.
Schubert Die schöne Müllerin
Konstantin Krimmel bar Daniel Heide pf
Konstantin Krimmel’s poetically evocative voice powerfully conveys his interpretation of Schubert’s tragic cycle, pianist Daniel Heide matching his compelling vision perfectly.
The Sixteen / Harry Christophers
One of this country’s finest choral ensembles brings us a collection of mostly a cappella, mostly 20th-century, British song. Another beautiful addition to The Sixteen’s ever-impressive catalogue.
‘You did not want for joy’
Carolyn Sampson sop Matthew Wadsworth lute/theorbo
These superb performers take music – and song styles – that span almost the entirety of classical music history and tie it together in a perfect, and perfectly beautiful, recital.
Tchaikovsky Symphony No 5 Schulhoff Five Pieces
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Manfred Honeck
I’ve come to expect excellence, in thrilling sound, from all new albums by Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh SO – this Tchaikovsky and Schulhoff recording is no exception.
Walton Violin Concerto Respighi Violin Sonata
Liya Petrova vn Adam Laloum pf Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Duncan Ward
A lyrical coupling of Walton and Respighi further adds to this violinist’s reputation.
L’Arte del Mondo / Werner Ehrhardt
New music to me, but what a glorious discovery – the 18th-century composer Schmittbaur couldn’t ask for better advocacy than from Werner Ehrhardt and L’Arte del Mondo.
Mozart Violin Sonatas
Renaud Capuçon vn Kit Armstrong pf
A very stylish album this, Renaud Capuc¸on and Kit Armstrong clearly relishing Mozart’s music and conveying their own joy in completely compelling performances.
James Ehnes vn Andrew Armstrong pf
No stranger to this page, violinist James Ehnes together with pianist Andrew Armstrong here offer us an intriguing programme as musically wide-ranging as it is beautifully performed and recorded.
Munich Opera Horns
The in-house label of the Bayerisches Staatsorchester has not rested on its laurels (three Gramophone Awards in its inaugural year), but continues to expand and explore; this album from the Munich Opera Horns is captivating.
Liszt Études d’exécution transcendante
Yunchan Lim pf
Steinway & Sons
Nobody who watched Yunchan Lim win the Van Cliburn competition will forget his awe-inspiring playing – this recording of the 12 Transcendental Studies is remarkable.
‘The Verbier Festival Debut Recital 2008’
Yuja Wang pf
With her 2008 Verbier Festival debut, aged just 21, this month’s cover star Yuja Wang truly made a mark – now available as a DG online album, it really is a recital to remember.
Liszt Orchestral Songs
Sols incl Thomas Hampson bar Vienna Academy Orchestra / Martin Haselböck
These orchestral versions of Liszt’s songs – including arrangements of Schubert – make for a fascinating, even revelatory, release.
Saariaho Choral Works
Helsinki Chamber Choir / Nils Schweckendiek
With the recent death of Kaija Saariaho the modern music world lost an inspirational and ever-inventive figure – this album of her vocal pieces makes for a poignant tribute.
Ysaÿe Six Solo Violin Sonatas
Hilary Hahn vn
An artist of intense virtuosity meets repertoire which pushes the violin to its communicative limits: Hilary Hahn’s album of Ysaÿe sonatas is an extraordinary achievement.
Bruckner Symphony No 7
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra / Lahav Shani
From his vision of this magisterial symphony to the orchestral sound world he draws from the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Lahav Shani’s Bruckner 7 is an impressive release indeed.
Rachmaninov Symphonies Nos 2 & 3
The Philadelphia Orchestra / Yannick Nézet-Séguin
The links between Rachmaninov’s music and the Philadelphia Orchestra were clear in the cycle’s riveting first set from 2021; the spirit of excellence is just as alive here.
Sancan ‘A Musical Tribute’
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet pf BBC Philharmonic / Yan Pascal Tortelier
This little-heard music is given sparkling advocacy by one of the composer’s pupils, the brilliant Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, superbly partnered by the BBC Philharmonic.
Vaughan Williams Job: A Masque for Dancing
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Andrew Manze
The textural detail from Andrew Manze and the RLPO in this Vaughan Williams album is compelling and beautiful.
Reich Music for 18 Musicians
Synergy Vocals; Colin Currie Group
Colin Currie Records
The extraordinary control that Steve Reich’s fascinating work requires is matched by exquisite musicality from Colin Currie and colleagues – the result is a sublime and reflective recording.
Ligeti Complete Études
Han Chen pf
The superb pianist Han Chen draws on an equal affinity with Romantic and contemporary repertoire to bring us a survey of Ligeti’s Études which, writes reviewer Jed Distler, stands among the best.
Schubert Piano Sonatas Nos 4 & 20 Schoenberg Drei Klavierstücke
Can Çakmur pf
A masterly and moving pair of Schubert sonatas from Can Çakmur, with an attractive attention to colour; in between comes equally inspiring Schoenberg.
The Choir of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge / David Skinner
This rare advocacy of 16th-century Jheronimus Vinders’s music from the Choir of Sidney Sussex College under David Skinner is fascinating and enjoyable.
Ravel L’heure espagnole. Boléro
Sols; Les Siècles / François-Xavier Roth
Everything that François-Xavier Roth and his superb Les Siècles musicians turn their hands to seems to emerge as riveting and revelatory, and this Ravel recording is no exception.
Sols; The English Concert / Harry Bicket
Highly engaging from the famous first aria onwards, this account of Serse – with a superb set of soloists led by Emily D’Angelo in the title role, all perfectly shaped by Harry Bicket – is a triumph.
Bacewicz Concertos for One and Two Pianos
Peter Jablonski, Elisabeth Brauss pfs Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Nicholas Collon
An excellent collection of Bacewicz’s works, from committed advocates of her music.
Beethoven Piano Concertos
Garrick Ohlsson pf Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra / Sir Donald Runnicles
We explored the background to these Beethoven concertos in May – the rapport between its artists is wonderful to hear.
Britten. Bruch Violin Concertos
Kerson Leong vn Philharmonia Orchestra / Patrick Hahn
Excellent Bruch is coupled with a truly impressive account of Britten’s Concerto, Kerson Leong exploring its paths and power with sheer panache.
Franck. Martin Piano Quintets
Martin Klett pf Armida Quartet
There’s a strong sense of composed control from the Armida Quartet and Martin Klett here, two different works receiving fascinating and thoughtful interpretations.
‘Piers Lane goes to Town Again’
Piers Lane pf
This return visit to a fascinating area of repertoire by a pianist, Piers Lane, who clearly loves and excels in it, gets an enthusiastic recommendation from our reviewer Jeremy Nicholas.
St Albans Cathedral Choir / Andrew Lucas
Bruckner’s Motets require a choir on top form – combining tonal beauty and sheer stamina, as reviewer Malcolm Riley puts it – and a conductor of impeccable insight, both of which they receive here.
Chesnokov All-Night Vigil
St John’s Voices / Graham Walker
This survey of music by the prolific Russian choral composer Pavel Chesnokov – the first full album of his music by an English choir – is rich in spiritual drama and gloriously recorded.
Sørensen St Matthew Passion
The Norwegian Soloists’ Choir / Grete Pedersen
Bent Sørensen’s work is a powerfully crafted portrayal of the Passion’s relationship between suffering and love, exquisitely performed by the superb Norwegian Soloists’ Choir.
‘Drop not, mine eyes’
Alexander Chance counterten Toby Carr lute
The countertenor Alexander Chance recently joined the Gramophone Podcast to discuss this album – in his voice, these centuries old songs speak afresh to modern audiences.
Ein Deutsches Barockrequiem
Vox Luminis / Lionel Meunier
The new project from Vox Luminis (Recording of the Year winners in 2012) takes the texts used by Johannes Brahms in A German Requiem as the inspiration for a new Baroque journey.
Bruch. Price Violin Concertos
Randall Goosby vn Philadelphia Orchestra / Yannick Nézet‑Séguin
Randall Goosby follows his 2021 debut ‘Roots’ with this impressive advocacy for Florence Price’s two violin concertos, alongside the more familiar one by Bruch.
Mahler Symphony No 5
Montreal Symphony Orchestra / Rafael Payare
Rafael Payare and his Montreal Symphony players offer a reading of Mahler’s Fifth of intensity and rich orchestral exploration, a real marker in their ongoing partnership.
Schreker Orchestral Works
Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra / Christoph Eschenbach
A ‘meticulously prepared and wonderfully idiomatic’ survey of Schreker works spanning the composer’s career, thoroughly recommended by critic Christian Hoskins.
Grime. Newland. Turnage ‘Bracing Change 2’
Bozzini, Heath & Piatti Quartets
The NMC label offers us another superb insight into contemporary quartet-writing – three composers, three ensembles, and three compelling performances.
Zlata Chochieva pf
Zlata Chochieva beautifully inhabits these composer’s very different sound worlds – including superb interpretations of Schumann’s Waldszenen and Ravel’s Miroirs – with pianism of elegance, insight and virtuosity.
Byrd 1589 – Songs of Sundrie Natures
Alamire; Fretwork / David Skinner
Byrd’s complete Songs of Sundrie Natures of 1589 in hugely impressive performances by Alamire and David Skinner, joined by Fretwork – a superb Byrd anniversary release.
Obrecht Missa Maria zart
Cappella Pratensis / Stratton Bull
We delved into the story behind this recording – and indeed the work itself, a Renaissance masterpiece of remarkable length – last month; the result is just as wonderful as we hoped.
Carolyn Sampson sop Joseph Middleton pf
Soprano Carolyn Sampson, pianist Joseph Middleton, Schubert songs: this album may be self-recommending on those facts alone, and to hear it is indeed to experience exquisite music-making.
Sols; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Martyn Brabbins
In this outstanding performance of a rarely heard choral work by Stanford, Martyn Brabbins guides the musicians with sensitivity and affection in a beautifully judged account.
Gesualdo Madrigals, Books 5 & 6
Les Arts Florissants / Paul Agnew
The gripping acoustic intimacy that defined this series from its Award‑winning start is again here in another compelling Gesualdo recording from Les Arts Florissansts.
Bruckner Symphony No 4, ‘Romantic’
Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra / François‑Xavier Roth
‘The best-realised, and best-recorded, account of the original version of the Fourth we have yet had’, writes a hugely impressed Richard Osborne.
Nordheim The Tempest – Suite from the Ballet
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra / Edward Gardner
The suite from Arne Nordheim’s ballet The Tempest is beautifully performed by Edward Gardner and his Bergen PO.
Stravinsky The Firebird. The Rite of Spring
Orchestre de Paris / Klaus Mäkelä
Named last issue as one of our artists shaping music-making for tomorrow, Klaus Mäkelä follows his superb Sibelius set with a riveting Stravinsky double-bill.
Klaus Mäkelä discusses this new recording on the Gramophone Podcast – listen here:
Saint‑Saëns Violin Sonatas, etc
Cecilia Zilliacus vn Christian Ihle Hadland pf Stephen Fitzpatrick hp
Wonderfully vivid, alive and completely committed – but most importantly beautiful – Saint-Saëns performances from violinist Cecilia Zilliacus and colleagues.
‘The Handel Project’
Seong-Jin Cho pf
Seong-Jin Cho’s immersion in the sound world of the Baroque in preparation for this project leads him to Handel – and then Brahms – performances that feel as deeply thought-out as they do instinctive.
‘Gradus ad Parnassum’
Jean Rondeau hpd
A fascinating and wonderfully recorded harpsichord album from Jean Rondeau in which his complete conviction about his approach to this wide range of music brings enjoyment and admiration alike.
JS Bach ‘Trinitatis’ – Cantatas
Damien Guillon counterten Le Banquet Céleste
Deeply engaging and moving performances of three Bach cantatas result in ‘an exceptional and original release’, as Jonathan Freeman‑Attwood puts it.
The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge / Andrew Nethsingha
This ongoing series has not only been a beautifully prepared and sung tribute to the Anglican canticle tradition, but also to Andrew Nethsingha’s brilliant leadership of music st St John’s.
Michael Spyres ten Il Pomo d’Oro / Francesco Corti
Michael Spyres’s now famous range coupled with his superb sense of drama and glorious technique singles him out – once again – as one of the finest opera singers before us today.
Mozart String Quintets Nos 3 & 4
Ébène Quartet with Antoine Tamestit va (Erato)
This is extraordinary playing from Quatuor Ébène, joined by viola player Antoine Tamestit, and offered in showcase sound. Vividness, transparency and virtuosity are all here in abundance.
Kapustin Piano Concerto No 5, etc
Frank Dupree pf Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra / Dominik Beykirch (Capriccio)
Frank Dupree’s mission to promote the jazz-infused music of Nikolai Kapustin continues with this glorious album.
Stravinsky Violin Concerto, etc
Isabelle Faust vn Les Siècles / François‑Xavier Roth (Harmonia Mundi)
Isabelle Faust, who always leaves us hearing even familiar works as if freshly discovered, joins forces with a conductor whose mission could be defined in exactly the same way.
Busch Chamber Works
Dimitri Vecchi fl Sarastro Quartet (CPO)
An enticing insight into the mind of a great interpreter, as Peter Quantrill puts it, one that rewards repeated listening, not least in these first-class performances by the Sarastro Quartet.
JS Bach ‘Clavichord’
András Schiff clav (ECM New Series)
The case is made both academically, but even more significantly musically, for the use of clavichord in this repertoire. The modern replica instrument sounds splendid, and András Schiff’s playing is revelatory.
Brahms. C & R Schumann Piano Works
Benjamin Grosvenor pf (Decca)
Benjamin Grosvenor, who has long consolidated his place as one our age’s finest pianists, explores this music’s inwardness in particular with colour and elegance.
Chopin Piano Sonatas Nos 2 & 3
Rafał Blechacz pf (DG)
It was in Chopin that Rafał Blechacz first made his name, and nearly two decades on his continued immersion in this music is our gain; his interpretative decisions are completely convincing.
Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet, etc
Yevgeny & Bella Sudbin pf (BIS)
Yevgeny Sudbin’s performances – and his arrangements too – are full of spirit, colour and delight; his ability to recreate and relish orchestral textures make for a truly splendid album.
‘Sola’ Music for Viola by Women Composers
Rosalind Ventris va (Delphian)
A journey through solo viola repertoire by women composers, performed with a commitment and depth of expression by Rosalind Ventris that’s absolutely compelling from first note to last.
Sansara / Tom Herring (Platoon)
A powerful programme of thought-provoking works, both timely and timeless, the impeccable performances by Sansara drawing us in and holding us throughout the deeply reflective journey.
Sols; Chorus and Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rome / Antonio Pappano Warner Classics
The great anticipation about this project has been happily fulfilled – superb soloists and inspired conducting by a brilliant Puccinian, Antonio Pappano, makes this an operatic success story.
Bartók Dance Suite. The Wooden Prince
WDR Symphony Orchestra / Cristian Măcelaru Linn
Christian Măcelaru and his WDR Symphony players capture Bartók’s sound world and the narrative’s journey splendidly: a terrific album indeed.
Nielsen Symphonies Nos 2 & 6
Danish National Symphony Orchestra / Fabio Luisi DG
Last month’s review of this series’s earlier instalments was a rave, and with this release of Symphonies Nos 2 and 6 Luisi brings to a close a thrilling new benchmark cycle.
‘Music for Strings’
Sinfonia of London / John Wilson Chandos
Praise for John Wilson’s Sinfonia of London will be nothing new to readers: the strength and beauty of the strings and Wilson’s instinct for ensemble makes for another triumph.
JS Bach ‘The Well-Tempered Consort, Vol 3’
A wonderful and stylishly played release from Phantasm, the third and final instalment of their enlightening albums featuring Bach arrangements for viol consort.
Henselt Complete Études
Daniel Grimwood pf Edition Peters
As Jeremy Nicholas outlines in his review, Henselt’s place in piano’s history is not reflected in recordings, something Daniel Grimwood sets out to challenge here: instant classic status, is JN’s verdict.
Nikolai Lugansky pf Harmonia Mundi
Nikolai Lugansky’s Rachmaninov recordings span his career, and his innate feeling for the composer superbly realised in the complete Études-tableaux, a truly impressive contribution to the catalogue.
Byrd ‘The Golden Renaissance’
Stile Antico Decca
Stile Antico begin the Byrd anniversary year in typically impressive style – an album which well captures their impeccable but characterful collegiality, and their glorious sense of sonic space.
Matthias Goerne bar Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen DG
Schubert songs in orchestral form, and when sung exquisitely by Matthias Goerne they lose none of their emotional intimacy.
Sandrine Piau sop David Kadouch pf Alpha
A philosophical, emotional and geographic journey told through a superb selection of songs; Sandrine Piau is a profoundly poetic guide, David Kadouch her perfect travelling companion.
‘Toutes les nuits’
Dulces Exuviae Ricercar
This is a beautiful album, programmed with great care, deeply atmospheric, and performed with a moving and sensitive emotional depth by baritone Romain Bockler and lutenist Bor Zuljan.
Elgar Viola (Cello) Concerto Bloch Suite
Timothy Ridout va BBC Symphony Orchestra / Martyn Brabbins Harmonia Mundi
Both works here draw out superb and intuitive performances from viola player Timothy Ridout and orchestral colleagues.
Kalabis. Krása. Martinů Harpsichord Concertos
Mahan Esfahani hpd Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra / Alexander Liebreich Hyperion
Another triumph from the ever-exploratory and brilliantly virtuosic Mahan Esfahani.
Nielsen Symphonies Nos 4 & 5
Danish National Symphony Orchestra / Fabio Luisi DG
This is truly thrilling Nielsen playing – equally so in Nos 1 and 3, also reviewed this issue – from a conductor, Fabio Luisi, and ensemble who clearly adore this music.
‘Les nuits de Paris’
Les Siècles / François‑Xavier Roth Bru Zane
Settle down for a delightful journey of discovery through lesser-known French dance music, from the ever-impeccable musical forces of François‑Xavier Roth and his period-instrument Les Siècles.
Bartók. Brahms. Janáček Violin Sonatas
Patricia Kopatchinskaja vn Fazıl Say pf Alpha
Here is music-making every bit as striking and individual and as we’d expect from such probing artists as Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Fazıl Say.
Marais Pièces de viole
Jean-Guihen Queyras vc Alexandre Tharaud pf Harmonia Mundi
Marais on cello and modern piano might be unexpected, but in the hands of Jean-Guihen Queyras and Alexandre Tharaud the experience proves to be compellingly beautiful.
Beethoven Piano Sonatas Nos 30‑32
Anne Queffélec pf Mirare
Drawing on decades of wisdom, Anne Queffélec offers us an album of Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas rich in imaginative personality and spiritual depth, and reflecting a clear joy in this timeless music.
Schumann Piano Works
Fabrizio Chiovetta pf Aparté
‘Strikingly original and yet perfectly idiomatic’, writes Patrick Rucker in praise of this splendid recital of well-known Schumann works by Fabrizio Chiovetta, lyricism and virtuosity in equal balance.
Poulenc La voix humaine
Véronique Gens sop Orchestre National de Lille / Alexandre Bloch Alpha
This is a really extraordinary performance of Poulenc’s devastating solo opera, Véronique Gens bringing both musical and dramatic perfection to the role.
Donizetti ‘Signor Gaetano’
Javier Camarena ten Coro Donizetti Opera; Gli Originali / Riccardo Frizza
Mexican tenor Javier Camarena offers a personal and musically thrilling tribute to Donizetti. A singer on top form, in repertoire he has a clear affection for and affinity with – a splendid album.
Beethoven Five Piano Concertos
Haochen Zhang pf Philadelphia Orchestra / Nathalie Stutzmann
Van Cliburn Gold Medal winner and Avery Fisher Prize recipient, Haochen Zhang now adds a hugely impressive Beethoven concerto set to his list of achievments.
Langgaard Symphony No 1
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Sakari Oramo
The Berlin Philharmonic premiered this work – Langgaard’s First Symphony – back in 1913; under Oramo, they bring immense understanding and instinct to it today.
Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra
Crystalline, clarity of texture – Andrew Mellor’s well-chosen words perfectly capture what makes Icelandic composer Hugi Gumundsson’s music so fascinating, and so worth hearing.
Martinů Two Cello Sonatas
Johannes Moser vc Andrei Korobeinikov pf
A perfect control of rhythm allows for beautifully expressive playing – Johannes Moser and Andrei Korobeinikov offer a wonderful set of Martin≤’s cello sonatas.
Rzewski The People United Will Never Be Defeated!
Vadym Kholodenko pf
Another Rzewski cycle to add to recent acclaimed recordings, but one every bit as personally thought-through as the composer might have hoped. Vadym Kholodenko is on fine form.
Handel ‘Eternal Heaven’
Lea Desandre sop Iestyn Davies counterten Jupiter / Thomas Dunford lute
A beautiful exploration of arias drawn from Handel’s English oratorios, from singers and players of immense distinction.
Monteverdi Madrigals, Book 7
Concerto Italiano / Rinaldo Alessandrini
A gorgeously performed and recorded album from an artist, Rinaldo Alessandrini, with a richly personal association with Monteverdi’s madrigals, their musicality and humanity.
Pascoe Secular Requiem
Truro Cathedral Choir; BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Christopher Gray
A powerful tribute both to Russell Pascoe’s work and to Christopher Gray’s leadership of Truro Cathedral’s music-making.
‘A Shropshire Lad’
Roderick Williams bar Hallé Orchestra / Sir Mark Elder
A singer of extraordinarily communicative skill, as composer Roderick Williams has wonderfully orchestrated these much-loved works with care and understanding.
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