Noting the recent articles of our esteemed publication on the "Top 10 classical music recordings" and "Music for Holy Week: a specialist's guide", I could not resist to create this thread as a minor reaction and further contribution to this matter.
As for the "specialist's guide", I have no particular problem with the chosen works (and recordings), if we understand that it is only a very small fraction of an abundance of wonderful works one can find in this field (e.g. Telemann's Lukas Passion of 1728, in a masterful reading on CPO, or Homilius' Johaness Passion, in an idiomatic performance and quite good production on Carus, or Palestrina's Lamentations in a solemn recording on Chandos etc.). I admire the chosen recording of Bach's St. Matthew Passion with Klemperer. I fully agree with the view that...it is a star reminder that we "ignore older recordings in outmoded styles at our peril"!
Regarding the article on "top 10 classical music recordings for Easter" (prudently, this time the definte article "the" is avoided), I can welcome the inclusion of Mascagni's "Easter Hymn" from Cavaleria Rusticana in the legendary by now Karajan's recording (as one of the few secular contributions to this subject).
It is interesting that only one Cantata (BWV31) has been chosen (in the solid performance and recording with Gardiner, on SDG). It is pity that neither of the two great Passions is chosen. Actually, the St. Matthew Passion has been honoured, only the last year, by two quite interesting and more than adequate recordings and in marvelous productions: a) the one with Fred Bernius (also in SACD format), on Carus, and b) the more than welcome latest recording of Gardiner, on SDG. For those interested, there is also the 2015 recording (also in SACD) of the arrangement of this Passion by Mendelssohn, in a fascinating performance with de Vriend and excellent production on Challenge.
The amazing thing is with St. John Passion. There have been seven recordings since last Jan. 2016! These are: a) the quite interesting one with Peter Dijkstra, on BR Klassik (Jan.2016), b) the then highly hailed Rene Jacobs (SACD, on HM, March 2016), c) the more straightforward and germanic one with Rainer Johannes Homburg (on MDG, in SACD, Febr. 2017), d) the more British-oriented one with Jeannette Sorrell (on Avie, March 2017), e) one with the seasoned Minkowski (on Erato, March 2017), f) the new exciting recording of Stephen Cleobury (on Kings College, in SACD, April 2017) and g) for those who wanted it in English, Chandos released in March a 2SACD-set with David Temple!
The "Seven Last Words" by Haydn is a clear must for getting into the deeper meaning and sense of this Season, but the recording that makes the clear difference is the superb SACD by Praga with the brilliant Prazak Quartet. It is also quite important to listen to the other three versions of the work (for Pianoforte, Orchestra and the Choral one). They all give another significant perspective to the work.
For the Stabat Mater, apart from the obvious ones mentioned, I would suggest also the lovely one by Boccherini, particularly in the fine brand new recording with the ravishing Dorothee Mields and the Salagon Quartet (on Carus) and the rarely chosen one by Szymanowski for a more radical change (in the classic recording with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta S.O. and Ch., on Telarc).
Biber's Mystery Sonatas are an intriguing instrumental effort to serve such a...purpose. There were a good number of very fine new releases (e.g. the one, on Aeolus, with the excellent Helene Schmitt or the one on Channel with the always exciting Rachel Podger, on Channel, both in SACD format).
Finally, Haendel's Messiah is an "all-weather" work and fine, solid recordings are plenty. Only last October, we witnessed two fine and interesting new ones: a very lean but quite carefully prepared, performed and produced one, on Pan, with the ensemble Musica Fiorita under Daniela Dolci and a new "heavy" rendition (and edition) prepared by Andrew Davis for those who want the work majestic and colourful (on Chandos, in SACD). This March, Gramola released a more mainstream but quite competitive live recording with the Bach Consort Wien under Ruben Dubrowsky. An all-time recording, at least for me, is the live one with Harnoncourt, on DHM.
So, there is plenty of great music in an unusually (and perhaps unnecessary) variety of recordings to indulge in. May you have a Happy (musical) Easter.