The best new classical albums: November 2018

Friday, November 2, 2018

Martin Cullingford’s pick of the finest recordings from this month’s reviews

Recording of the month

JS Bach Solo Violin Sonatas – Nos 1 & 2. Solo Violin Partita No 1

Hilary Hahn vn


Hilary Hahn returns to solo Bach with the wisdom of experience, but with an astonishing freedom, virtuosity and vision that convinces you that this is the perfect way to play this sublime music.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

Audio Editor Andrew Everard writes: 'Superb playing, lovingly recorded over an extended period – some of the tracks date from early 2012, the rest from 2017 – makes this set a luminous treat, especially in 88.2kHz-24bit hi-res audio from Qobuz, which brings out all the vitality and expression of the performances.'


Langgaard Symphonies Nos 2 & 6 Gade Tango jalousie 

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Sakari Oramo


Unfamiliar but deeply rewarding music played by a great orchestra clearly relishing the opportunity to engage with this composer’s fascinating sound world. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz


Mahler Symphony No 5

Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Daniel Harding

Harmonia Mundi

Proof that the Swedish RSO is on fine form under Daniel Harding who gives a superb performance of this popular and great symphony.

Read the review


Tchaikovsky Swan Lake

State Academic SO of Russia ‘Evgeny Svetlanov’ / Vladimir Jurowski


Familiar – and glorious – music given a fresh approach under Jurowski who explained his thoughts on the score in last month’s ‘Musician and the Score’.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz


Watkins Flute Concerto. Violin Concerto. Symphony

Adam Walker fl Alina Ibragimova vn BBC SO / Gardner; Hallé / R Wigglesworth


Three major works from one of the most interesting of today’s composers, one well able to ‘enchant’ (in Guy Rickards’s word).

Read the review | Download from Qobuz


Debussy Les Trois Sonates – The Late Works

Various artists

Harmonia Mundi

Top-notch French players explore three sonatas from Debussy’s final years in a series – from our Label of the Year – that’s turning out to be impressive indeed.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz


Schubert String Quartets Nos 9 & 14 ‘Death and the Maiden’

Chiaroscuro Quartet


Two Schubert string quartets, early and ‘late’, played with enormous conviction and power by this very stylish ensemble.   

Read the review | Download from Qobuz


Bach Keyboard Works

Víkingur Ólafsson pf


Following his terrific recording last year of the music of Philip Glass, this engaging pianist turns his attention to JS Bach, with piano-playing of glowing lyricism and sparkling virtuosity.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz



Igor Levit pf

Sony Classical 

A musical meditation on death and absence by one of today’s most thoughtful and intense pianists. A triumph of imaginative programming that ranges from Bach to Frederic Rzewski, and elevated further by masterly pianism. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz


Duparc. Ravel ‘Aimer et mourir – danses et mélodies’

Magdalena Kožená mez DSO Berlin / Robin Ticciati


A wonderfully heady programme of French music that shows Ticciati’s developing relationship with his Berlin orchestra. Lovely singing from Kožená.

Read the review 



‘Through the eyes of Yuja’ 

Yuja Wang pf Camerata Salzburg / Lionel Bringuier

C Major Entertainment 

A disarmingly honest, and fascinating, glimpse into the life of one of today’s leading virtuosos, complete with performances of Gershwin and Ravel caught live in Salzburg.

Read the review



Wagner Die fliegende Holländer 

Sols; Bayreuth Festival / Wolfgang Sawallisch


Forget the mono sound, this is a superb performance of the Dutchman from 1959.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz


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