The best new classical albums: Editor's Choice, February 2021

Friday, January 22, 2021

A staggering new recording of Rachmaninov's Symphony No 1 and Symphonic Dances from The Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin is the Recording of the Month in the February, alongside a host of outstanding Editor's Choice albums

Recording of the month

Rachmaninov Symphony No 1. Symphonic Dances

The Philadelphia Orchestra / Yannick Nézet-Séguin


Last issue, we explored the legacy of Rachmaninov and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin proves himself not just a brilliant custodian, but a conductor creating an era of his own.

Read the Gramophone review

‘English Music for Strings’

Sinfonia of London / John Wilson


Once again John Wilson draws the most glorious sound from his hand-picked orchestra, lavishing care and devotion on repertoire that could have been written for him.

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Beethoven Violin Sonatas Nos 7 & 10

James Ehnes vn Andrew Armstrong pf


A brilliant sonata series closes on a high: James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong have proved themselves players in perfect dialogue throughout this memorable addition to catalogue.

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Mozart Gran Partita M Simpson Geysir

Mark Simpson cl et al


Another wonderful ‘Gran Partita’, from a particularly impressive line-up, is preceded here by a beautifully crafted work from composer and clarinettist Mark Simpson for the same forces.

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JS Bach Das wohltemperirte Clavier, Book 2 – selections

Piotr Anderszewski pf

Warner Classics

Thoughtful and thought-provoking programming by Piotr Anderszewski is paired with sensitive interpretation throughout, making for a compelling Bach album.

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Handel Harpsichord Suites

Pierre Hantaï hpd


With his exquisite playing on a delightful sounding instrument (and one recorded with engaging clarity), Pierre Hantaï brings Handel’s harpsichord suites stunningly to life.

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‘Vida breve’

Stephen Hough pf


Stephen Hough follows his Beethoven concerto album with a more intimate, personal meditation on life and death, a journey bookended with Bach-based reflections, and all performed with his usual intelligence and flair.

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Beethoven. Rihm. Schubert Vanitas

Georg Nigl bar Olga Pashchenko pf


A well-planned recital from Austrian baritone Georg Nigl of songs that draw on his voice’s reflective and humane sound, with pianist Olga Pashchenko at one with him in this journey

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Bruckner Latin Motets

Latvian Radio Choir / Sigvards Kļava


The acclaimed Latvian Radio Choir, their sound so immediately evocative and emotive, brings us beautiful Bruckner from the atmospheric acoustic of Riga Cathedral.

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‘Tyrannic Love’

Ensemble Les Surprises / Louis-Noël Bestion de Camboulas


A vibrant step into 18th-century English music from Ensemble Les Surprises sees the French group shine in works both familiar and lesser known from Purcell and peers.

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Beethoven Fidelio (1806 version)

Sols; Vienna Symphony Orchestra / Manfred Honeck


Manfred Honeck leads his fine singers and instrumentalists in a Fidelio that, says critic Peter Quantrill, is not to be missed. 

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‘The SWR Recordings 1956-84’

Henryk Szeryng vn

SWR Classic

Rob Cowan’s Replay draws our attention this month to ‘an artistically exceptional box on SWR Classic’ of violinist Henryk Szeryng.

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