The best new classical albums: Editor's Choice, December 2020

Friday, December 4, 2020

Editor Martin Cullingford’s pick of the finest recordings from this month’s reviews, including Vox Luminis, Gidon Kremer, Marin Alsop, Tabea Zimmermann, Fatma Said and more...

Recording of the Month

Hammerschmidt ‘Ach Jesus stirbt’

Vox Luminis; Clematis / Lionel Meunier


From Passion through to festivities, this is a truly compelling choral album: Vox Luminis’s contributions both as individuals and an ensemble feel exquisite and heartfelt.

Read the Gramophone review

Beethoven. Ferré. Sollima ‘Searching for Ludwig’

Kremerata Baltica / Gidon Kremer vn Mario Brunello vc


An intriguing and stirring Beethoven album to conclude the anniversary year – two quartets performed by string orchestra.

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Clyne Mythologies

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Marin Alsop et al


Anna Clyne’s imaginative orchestral language, rich in melodic flights and enticing details, shines through in these five works spanning 15 years of creativity.

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Vaughan Williams Symphony No 5

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Martyn Brabbins


A performance of RVW’s Fifth of glowing orchestral richness and elegance, and a fascinating Bunyan-based coupling.

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‘To Roman Totenberg’

Nathan Meltzer vn Rohan De Silva pf

Champs Hill

A chance to hear exactly why we made Nathan Meltzer our One to Watch last issue – and also a chance to hear the 1734 Stradivarius once owned by the album’s dedicate, Roman Totenberg.

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JS Bach. Kurtág ‘Solo II’

Tabea Zimmermann va


Beautiful Bach playing from Tabea Zimmermann, an effortless fluidity of line wrapping around the listener, paired with the expressive soundworld of Kurtág’s miniatures.

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Sheppard Media vita

Choir of New College Oxford / Robert Quinney


Beautiful singing – impassioned, radiant and gloriously sculpted – from New College Oxford, in this wonderful programme of Sheppard’s music.

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‘El Nour’

Fatma Said sop

Warner Classics

A splendid debut from Egyptian soprano Fatma Said offers a truly cross-cultural journey embracing songs from France, Spain and Egypt and beyond, all performed with beauty and zest.

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Boismortier Les voyages de l’Amour

Sols; Purcell Choir; Orfeo Orchestra / György Vashegyi


‘Plenty to beguile’, as reviewer Richard Wigmore perfectly puts it – another triumphant operatic rarity recording courtesy of György Vashegyi.

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Rameau Les Boréades

Sols; Collegium 1704 / Václav Luks

Château de Versailles Spectacles

Rameau’s last opera receives a sparkling performance, soloists singing with drama, and Václav Luks driving proceedings along with a lovely sense of pace.

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Messager Fortunio

Sols; Champs-Élysées Orchestra / Louis Langrée


Another operatic rarity this month – this time from Paris’s Opéra Comique – which offers us a welcome dose of, as critic Mark Pullinger suggests, ‘gentle, escapist charm’.

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Haydn. Mozart ‘Recordings on Mercury Living Presence’

Various orchs / Antal Dorati

Decca Eloquence

A number of Dorati-conducted symphonies receiving their first Decca reissue on CD – and in excellent transfers too – courtesy of the ever-impressive Eloquence label.

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