The best new classical albums: April 2018

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

Recording of the month

Rachmaninov The Bells. Symphonic Dances 

Sols; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Mariss Jansons 


When the author of a Collection article elevates a new recording above his longstanding benchmark version – as reviewer Geoffrey Norris does here – you know it’s something very special indeed.

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Mahler Symphony No 1 

Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra / Adám Fischer 


There’s a palpable excitement from critic Edward Seckerson about this developing Mahler series, and justifiably so, the performances underpinned by an evident rapport between Fischer and his orchestra. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz


Vaughan Williams Symphonies Nos 5 & 6 

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Andrew Manze 


Andrew Manze discussed his deep and longstanding affection for Vaughan Williams’s music in last month’s issue; that insight bears rich fruit here. 

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Marais Pièces de viole 

La Rêveuse 


This is a truly delightful recording of early 18th-century French viol music, in which beauty of line and collegiality between players make for many exquisite moments, both delicate and joyfully lively.

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Mozart Violin Sonatas, Vol 5 

Alina Ibragimova vn Cédric Tiberghien pf 


A superb series, destined to become a benchmark in the repertoire, here closes with a disc that keeps up the exploratory approach and impeccable playing right to the very end.  

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Kian Soltani vc Aaron Pilsan pf 


Kian Soltani is very much a young cellist to watch – this album of well-chosen music, from Schubert and Schumann to Iranian composer Reza Vali, clearly draws deeply on his own artistic personality. 

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Beethoven Diabelli Variations 

Martin Helmchen pf 


The second Diabelli release from the same label in less than a year – but with a performance as virtuoso and imaginative as this from Martin Helmchen, it’s more than justified!

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Messiaen Catalogue d’oiseaux 

Pierre-Laurent Aimard pf 


A fascinating work, the demands it makes on performer and listener both great but rewarding, is brilliantly explored by a pianist, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, with a deep knowledge of the music of Messiaen.

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‘Four Pieces, Four Pianos’ 

Alexander Melnikov pf 

Harmonia Mundi 

Alexander Melnikov talked readers through his choice of piano for the Liszt piece in February; for Chopin, Schubert and Stravinsky he hand-picked three others. The results are hugely enjoyable.  

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‘Venezia Millenaria’ 

Hespèrion XXI; Le Concert des Nations / Jordi Savall 

Alia Vox 

Another compelling and ear-opening historical journey by Jordi Savall, this time a portrait of that most beguiling of cities, Venice, wonderfully portrayed in diverse music from across a millennium.  

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

Audio Editor Andrew Everard writes: 'A remarkably diverse range of musical styles in this survey of 1000 years of Venetian history in music – and it sounds intriguing, enthralling and consistently fascinating with the extra impact, ambience and detail of the 88.2kHz/24bit Qobuz download'


‘Les funérailes royales de Louis XIV’ 

Sols; Pygmalion / Raphaël Pichon

Harmonia Mundi 

A commemorative re-creation of the funeral service for the Sun King, filmed in (appropriately enough) Versailles: ‘fantastic music-making in action’, writes our reviewer David Vickers.   

Read the review



Liszt ‘RIAS Recordings, Vol 2’ 

Jorge Bolet pf 

Münchner Philharmoniker 

The second volume of this Jorge Bolet series, his virtuosity revealed in an all-Liszt programme. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

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