The best new classical albums – September 2017

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

Recording of the month

Mendelssohn Symphonies Nos 1‑5

Sols; Chamber Orchestra of Europe / Yannick Nézet-Séguin 


Nézet-Séguin approaches the symphonies of Mendelssohn with an exploratory mind and deep care for colour, the COE responding with brilliance throughout this impressive set.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz


Brahms Symphonies Nos 1‑4 

Boston Symphony Orchestra / Andris Nelsons 

BSO Classics 

The second of this month’s big cycles from big names: on this evidence, the partnership between Nelsons and the Boston SO is very strong indeed.  

Read the review | Download from Qobuz


Carter ‘Late Works’ 

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Oliver Knussen 


Carter’s late works – he continued to write beyond his 100th birthday – are given vivid, reflective performances here by some of the composer’s leading champions.  

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Mozart Piano Concertos Nos 25 & 26 

Francesco Piemontesi pf Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Andrew Manze


If compelling evidence were needed that Mozart’s K503 concerto is underrated – as Piemontesi asserts in this month’s Musician and the Score – then here it is.

Read the review


Bartók Complete String Quartets 

The Heath Quartet 

Harmonia Mundi 

A year on from their Gramophone Awards success with Tippett, the hugely impressive young ensemble are equally as convincing in Bartók’s works for string quartet.

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Mozart Piano Sonatas, Vol 5

William Youn pf 


Other Mozart series and pianists may attract more profile, but few attract quite the praise that Youn’s beautiful and engaging approach to this music has. This is really worth hearing.  

Read the review

‘Dreams & Fancies’ 

Sean Shibe gtr 


Young guitarist – and like Piemontesi, a former BBC New Generation Artist – Shibe’s rich approach to tonal colour brings evocative depth to these (mainly) 20th-century works for his instrument.

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Rachmaninov Vespers, ‘All-Night Vigil’

Sols; MDR Radio Choir / Risto Joost 


When the author of our recent Collection feature on Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil places this newcomer among ‘the very best available’, admirers of this work need not hesitate. 

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R Strauss ‘Through Life and Love’

Louise Alder sop Joseph Middleton pf 


The debut recital album from a very promising singer reveals a wonderful affinity for the songs of Strauss: Alder is very much one to watch.

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Handel Ottone 

Sols incl Cencic; Il Pomo d’Oro / George Petrou 


A strong cast and a standout soloist in countertenor Cencic as Ottone – plus a well-paced realisation of the score by Petrou – makes for a dramatic listen and an enjoyable operatic experience. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz



‘The Opening Concert’ 

NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra / Thomas Hengelbrock 

C Major Entertainment 

‘A record of an extraordinary musical event … highly recommended’, as critic Charlotte Gardner puts it. She was there, and is thus well qualified to assess how the event has transferred to film. 

Read the review



Gundula Janowitz ‘The Last Recital’ 

First Hand 

The soprano’s final recital, nine years after she officially retired from the stage: a moving recording of a remarkable occasion. 

Read the review

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