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MusicWeb Recommends 2011


Recordings of the Month

Franco ALFANO (1875-1954) Violin Sonata, Piano Quintet, Nenia & Scherzino - Mary Ann Mumm, Elmira Darvarova (violin) Scott Dunn (piano) Craig Mumm (viola) Samuel Magill (cello) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572753 [66:16] [RB] This is late-romantic music that sings with its face looking into radiance.

Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006) Cello Concerto, Flute Concertino, Fantasy, Saxophone Concerto, Symphony for Strings - Raphael Wallfisch (cello) Esther Ingham (flute) John Turner (recorder) Carl Raven (alto saxophone) Northern CO/Nicholas Ward, Manchester Sinf/Richard Howarth rec. 2003-11 NAXOS 8.572640 [73:17] [RB] A hands-down winner.

BACH Family Chamber Music for Two Flutes - Hansgeorg Schmeiser (flute) Jan Ostrý (flute) Eszter Haffner (viola) Othmar Müller (cello) Ingomar Rainer (harpsichord) rec. 2008 NIMBUS NI 5869 [79:22] [KS] Elegant chamber music perfect for your next dinner party or evening alone with a good book and a glass of fine wine. Fine playing all round by a well matched and collegial ensemble.

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) Hamburger Quartalsmusiken: Nun danket alle Gott, Herr lehr uns tun, Siehe! Ich begehre deiner Befehle, Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe - Himlische Cantorey, Les Amis de Philippe/Ludger Rémy rec. 2009 CPO 777 594-2 [48:03 + 51:27] [JV] Compelling performances of first-rate sacred cantatas by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.

Johann Ludwig BACH (1667-1731) Trauermusik - Anna Prohaska (soprano) Ivonne Fuchs (alto) Maximilian Schmitt (tenor) Andreas Wolf (bass) RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie für Alte Musik/Hans-Christoph Rademann rec. 2010 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 902080 [77:27] [JQ] A revelation. Johann Ludwig Bach’s masterpiece has been splendidly served in this superb performance.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) St. John Passion - Katharine Fuge, Joanne Lunn (soprano) Bernarda Fink (alto) Mark Padmore (tenor) Hanno Müller-Brachmann, Peter Harvey (bass) Monteverdi Ch, English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2003 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG712 [35:25 + 79:24] [JQ] A splendid new account of the St. John Passion, which all devotees of Bach’s vocal music should try to hear.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Easter Oratorio, Ascension Oratorio - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Iestyn Davies (counter-tenor) James Gilchrist (tenor) Peter Harvey (bass) Retrospect Ens/Matthew Halls rec. 2010 LINN CKD373 SACD [70:26] [JQ] An effervescent disc of Bach’s vocal music, containing distinguished and stylish performances.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations (arr. Sitkovetsky) - Leopold String Trio rec. 2010 HYPERION CDA67826 [74:45] [DC] Captivating, mesmerising, and life-enhancing.

Wilhelm Friedemann BACH (1710 - 1784) Cantatas 1 - Dorothee Mields (soprano) Gerhild Romberger (alto) Georg Poplutz (tenor) Klaus Mertens (bass) Bachchor Mainz L’arpa festante/Ralf Otto rec. 2010 CARUS 83.362 [69:01] [MS] Four of W.F. Bach's Halle cantatas given splendid world premičre recordings by a top team.

Mili BALAKIREV (1837-1910) Piano Sonata 2 & other piano works - Danny Driver (piano) rec. 2010 HYPERION CDA67806 [69:07] [DM] A pianist of exceptional skill and promise.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Violin Concertos 1 & 2, Viola Concerto - James Ehnes (violin/viola) BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2009-11 CHANDOS CHAN 10690 [77:45] [DC] Tremendous achievement.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Duke Bluebeard’s Castle - Laszló Polgár (bass) Ildikó Komlósi (mezzo) Budapest Fest O/Iván Fischer rec. 2002 CHANNEL CLASSICS SACD CCSSA90311 [55:27] [WH] A magnificent performance of Bartók’s masterpiece from all-Hungarian forces … not to be missed.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Symphonies, Coriolan & Egmont overtures + Discovering Beethoven: documentary on each symphony - Vienna PO/Christian Thielemann rec. 2010 UNITEL C MAJOR 705308 DVD [9 DVDs: Music: 446:00; Documentaries: 510:00] [ST] A bold attempt to recapture and redefine Beethoven for the 21st century.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 30-32 - Penelope Crawford (fortepiano) rec. 2010 MUSICA OMNIA MO0308 [64:25] [BR] Probably the top choice for Beethoven’s last sonatas on a period instrument: a magical choice of piano and artistry which can stand up to the greats. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Missa Solemnis - Krassimira Stoyanova (soprano) Elina Garanca (mezzo) Michael Schade (tenor) Franz-Josef Selig (bass) Sächischer Staatsopernchor, Dresden Staatskapelle/Christian Thielemann rec. 2010 UNITEL CLASSICA 705408 DVD [90:00] [ST] An undeniably big-boned approach. A performance of real stature.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 7-9 - Annette Dasch (soprano) Mihoko Fujimura (contralto) Piotr Beczala (tenor) Georg Zeppenfeld (bass) Wiener Singverein, Vienna PO/Christian Thielemann rec. 2008-2010 UNITEL/CMAJOR 705204 BLU-RAY [306:56] [RC] Among the best Beethoven cycles available today …In fact, this would probably be my top choice … an historic musical event. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 17, 21 & 31 - David Wilde (piano) rec. 2010 DELPHIAN DCD34090 [71:45] [BR] A huge surprise — superb Beethoven in the romantic mode, with great color and poetry.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Late String Quartets Vol. 2 - Cypress String Qt CYPRESS PERFORMING ARTS ASSOCIATION CSQ2010 [44:00] [BW] Joins the great recordings of these wonderful works.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Grande Messe des Morts - Robert Murray (tenor) Chetham’s School Brass Ens, Gabrieli Players & Consort, Wrocław PO & Ch/Paul McCreesh rec. 2010 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD280 [48:25 + 40:17] [ST] First class.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Grande Messe des Morts - Robert Murray (tenor) Chetham’s School Brass Ens, Gabrieli Players & Consort, Wrocław PO & Ch/Paul McCreesh rec. 2010 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD280 [48:25 + 40:17] [JQ] At last we have a recording that, in every respect, does full justice to the Grande Messe des Morts.

Arthur BLISS (1891-1975), Henry WALFORD DAVIES (1869-1941) & York BOWEN (1884-1961) Sonatas for Violin & Piano - Rupert Luck (violin) Matthew Rickard (piano) rec. 2010 EM RECORDS EMR CD001 [53:06] [RB] This is magnificent impassioned music-making in works of real and dazzling substance. We must hope to hear much more of Luck and Rickard.

York BOWEN (1884-1961) Rhapsody Alan BUSH (1900-1995) Concert Suite Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972) Cello Concerto - Raphael Wallfisch (cello) BBC Concert O/Martin Yates rec. 2010 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7263 [2CDs: 82:25] [RB] A fine anthology of rare English cello treasures.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Handel Variations, Two Rhapsodies, Piano Pieces - Murray Perahia (piano) rec. 2010 SONY CLASSICAL 88679 79469 2 [78:44] [DC] Do you really need to ask if this is any good?

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Concerto Antonín DVORÁK (1841-1904) Symphony 9 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Egmont Overture Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Overture The Sicilian Vespers - Gil Shaham (violin) Berlin PO/Claudio Abbado rec. 2002 EUROARTS 2051954 BLU-RAY [108:01] [DBi] A superb concert containing a top recommendation for the Dvorák New World. As great a performance as has ever been given.

Vienna Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Cello sonata 2 Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) “Arpeggione” sonata Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Cello sonata 3 - Thomas Carroll (cello) Llŷr Williams (piano) rec. 2009/10 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100016 [79:46] [OL] Definitive performances of ultimate beauty. My Disc of the Year.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphonies 1-4 - Tonhalle O Zurich/David Zinman rec. 2010 SONY/RCA RED SEAL 88697 933492 [3 CDs: 166:00] [ST] Traditional Brahms … excellent, rich and bloomy. 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Concerto, Hungarian Dances - Baiba Skride (violin) Lauma Skride (piano) Royal Stockholm PO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2009/2010, ORFEO C 829 112 A [41:14 + 52:58] [JQ] This winningly lyrical account of the Brahms Violin Concerto is worth serious consideration by collectors.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Die Schöne Magelone - Dominik Wörner (bass-baritone) Masato Suzuki (piano) rec. 2010 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38497 [53:59] [JS] A performance very much worth hearing.

Walter BRAUNFELS (1882-1954) Die Vögel - Désirée Rancatore (soprano) Brandon Jovanovich (tenor) Los Angeles Opera Ch & O/James Conlon rec. 2009 ARTHAUS MUSIK BLU-RAY 101530 DVD 101529 [138:54] [RC] A superb recording that merits the highest praise!

Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972) Symphony 1 The Gothic - Susan Gritton (soprano) Bach Ch, Brighton Festival Ch, CBSO Youth Ch, Huddersfield Choral Soc, London Symphony Ch, BBC National Ch & O of Wales, BBC Concert O/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67971/2 [54:07 + 60:41] [RB] A momentous and remarkable work receiving its finest performance and recording to date.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Billy Budd - John Mark Ainsley (tenor) Jacques Imbrailo (baritone) Glyndebourne Ch, London PO/Mark Elder rec. live 2010 OPUS ARTE DVD OA1051D [86:00 + 87:00] [ST] For my money this is the best opera DVD of the year so far, and quite possibly the best in a considerably greater time period.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Cello symphony, Symphonic Suite from Gloriana, Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes - Robert Murray (tenor) Paul Watkins (cello) BBC Philharmonic/Edward Gardner rec. 2010 CHANDOS CHAN10658 [76:22] [LW] Gardner and the BBC Philharmonic do Britten proud.

Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Violin Concerto 1, Romance, String Quintet - Vadim Gluzman, Sandis Šteinbergs (violin) Maxim Rysanov (viola) Ilze Klava (viola) Reinis Birznieks (cello) Bergen PO/Andrew Litton rec. 2009, BIS-SACD-1852 SACD [58.04] [CF] Quite the finest performance of the Bruch concerto I have ever heard.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 2 - Aachen SO/Marcus Bosch rec. 2010 COVIELLO COV31015 [66:21] [GD] It all comes together in a way that few manage with this work.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphonies 4 & 7 - Basle SO/Mario Venzago rec. 2010 CPO 777 615-2 [61:15 + 64:21] [CH] Venzago’s Bruckner may be for the 2020s as iconic as Wand’s was for the 1990s.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 5 - Berlin PO/Wilhelm Furtwängler rec. live, 1942 PRISTINE AUDIO XR PASC 255 [69:33] [MC] Spacious and eminently noble … quite splendid playing.

William BYRD (ca. 1540-1623) Complete Consort Music - Phantasm rec. 2010 LINN CKD372 SACD [79:42] [KM] The beauty of Byrd’s viol consort music, excellently performed, impeccably recorded. 

Joseph CANTELOUBE (1879-1957) Songs of the Auvergne - Netania Davrath (soprano) Unnamed O/Pierre de la Roche, Gershon Kingsley rec. 1963/1966 VANGUARD CLASSICS ATM-CD-1189 [68.04 + 51.29] [RB] One of the last century’s greatest recordings.

Erik CHISHOLM (1904-1965) The Forsaken Mermaid, The Hoodie Craw - Murray McLachlan, Graham Scott (pianos) rec. 2009 ECT RECORDS ECT 2010.1 [62:36] [JF] Stunning music, stunningly played.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) A Century of Romantic Chopin rec. 1895-2003 MARSTON 54001-2 [4 CDs: 319:07] [JW] Belongs on the shelves of every piano collector, and anyone seriously interested in Chopin interpretation on disc.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Ballades, Scherzi - Bernd Glemser (Piano) rec. 2009 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 758 [73:22] [RC] This disc is a treasure, a rarity to behold.

Jacobus CLEMENS non Papa (1510/1515-1555/6) Missa Pro Defunctis, Motets - Brabant Ens/Stephen Rice rec. 2010 HYPERION CDA67848 [72.52] [GH] Jacobus Clemens can be considered up there with the very best.

George CRUMB (b.1929) Complete Crumb Edition Vol.15: The Ghosts of Alhambra, Voices from a Forgotten World - Jamie van Eyck (mezzo) Patrick Manson (baritone) David Starobin (guitar) Daniel Druckman (percussion) Orchestra 2001/James Freeman rec. 2008/10 BRIDGE RECORDS 9335 [67:26] [DC] Superb release – atmospheric and highly original.

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Appalachia, The Song of the High Hills - Olivia Robinson (soprano) Christopher Bowen (tenor) Andrew Rupp (baritone) BBC SO & Ch/Andrew Davis rec. 2010 CHANDOS CHSA5088 SACD [64:24] [IL] Beautifully-shaped and sensitive readings.

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Double Concerto for Violin & Cello, Violin Concerto, Cello Concerto - Tasmin Little (violin) Paul Watkins (cello) BBC SO/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2010 CHANDOS CHSA5094 SACD [68:59] [IL] Spellbinding performances of three concertos of languid beauty.

Paul DESENNE (b.1959) Jaguar Songs - Nancy Green (cello) rec. 2008 CELLO CLASSICS CC1026 [55:00] [WH] Fascinating music for cellos, brilliantly played, challenging and deeply rewarding.

Charles DESMAZURES (1670-1736) Pičces de Simphonie Suites I & III - Vespres d'Arnadí/Dani Espasa rec. 2008 MUSIČPOCA MEPCD-001 [73:56] [Byz] Without doubt one of the finest CD releases of the year. 

Erno DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Sextet Krzysztof PENDERECKI (b. 1933) Sextet - Ens Kheops rec. 2010 FUGA LIBERA FUG585 [58:52] [BR] Great sound, great under-exposed music, an obviously excellent and good-humored ensemble: this one is a keeper.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841–1904) String Quartets 12 & 13 - Pavel Haas Qt rec. 2010 SUPRAPHON SU40382 [63:08] [BR] Just right to these ears.

Ross EDWARDS (b. 1943) Violin concerto Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Violin Concerto - Adele Anthony (violin) Adelaide SO/Arvo Volmer rec. 2009 CANARY CLASSICS CC09 [57:20] [NB] A very rewarding disc.

Frédéric d'ERLANGER (1868-1943) Violin Concerto, Poëme Frederic CLIFFE (1857-1931) Violin Concerto - Philippe Graffin (violin) BBC Ntl O Wales/David Lloyd-Jones rec. 2010 HYPERION CDA67838 [69:45] [RB] Delightful, exciting and often touching concertos presented with total conviction and every appearance of unfaltering technique.

Friedrich Ernst FESCA (1789-1826) Flute Quartets - Linos Ens rec. 2005 CPO 777 126-2 [69:04] [CR] Charming repertoire. Enjoyable sound. Breathtaking flute playing.

Christopher FOX (b. 1955) Catalogue Irraisoné - Christopher Fox (speaker) Exaudi/James Weeks rec. 2006 METIER MSVCD92103 [53:00] [CR] Not to be missed.

Cheryl FRANCES-HOAD (b.1980) The Glory Tree - Nicholas Daniel (oboe) Lendvai String Trio, Ensemble na Mara, London Mozart Trio rec. 2008 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD021 [77:00] [CR] Refreshingly engaging and unapologetic, with a strong sense of identity and emotional depth.

John GARDNER (b.1917) Music for Brass & Organ - Paul Archibald (trumpet) Stephen King (organ) Cosmopolitan Brass/Chris Gardner rec. 2010 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0048 [67:10] [JS] This music has given me immense pleasure and I am very keen to get to know more of this strangely under-performed and recorded composer.

George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Songs - Sarah Vaughan (vocalist) Los Angeles PO/Michael Tilson Thomas rec. 1982 SONY CBS MASTERWORKS MK 37277 [61:11] [IL] A concert of Gershwin songs not to be missed. 

Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1937) Complete Concertos - Rachel Barton-Pine (violin) Alexander Romanovsky (piano) Wen-Sinn Yang (cello) Marc Chisson (saxophone) Alexey Serov (horn) Russian Ntl O/Jose Serebrier rec. 2010 WARNER CLASSICS 2564679465 [56:11 + 57:48] [RB] Straight to the top of the recommended versions of the concertos. I cannot imagine this set being surpassed, so strong and sympathetic are these performances and recordings.

Louis Moreau GOTTSCHALK (1829-1869) Complete Solo Piano Music - Philip Martin (piano) HYPERION CDS 44451/8 [8 CDs: 578:13] [DM] It’s an unqualified success, a winning blend of fine pianism and infectious music, and all presented in top-notch sound.

Christoph GRAUPNER (1683-1760) Concertos for bassoon, strings & bc - Sergio Azzolini (bassoon) Ens il capriccio/Friedemann Wezel rec. 2007 CARUS 83.443 [73:16] [JV] A wonderful disc which brings the unique qualities of Graupner's music to the fore.

Edvard GRIEG (1843 - 1907) Violin Sonata 1 Béla BARTÓK (1881 - 1945) Sonata for solo violin Richard STRAUSS (1864 - 1949) Violin Sonata - Vilde Frang (violin) Michail Lifits (piano) rec. 2010 EMI CLASSICS 9476392 [78:49] [GF] Give us more of Vilde Frang, please, EMI!

Johan HALVORSEN (1864 - 1935) Orchestral Works Vol. 3: Symphony 3, Fossegrimen, Bergensiana - Ragnhild Hemsing (Hardanger fiddle) Bergen PO/Neeme Järvi rec. 2009/10 CHANDOS CHAN10664 [79:53] [NB] Utterly beguiling.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Water Music, Rodrigo Overture and dances - Les Musiciens du Louvre, Grenoble/Marc Minkowski rec. 2010 NAÏVE V 5234 [68:00] [MG] A disc of vividly realized and thoroughly entertaining performances.

Hans-Leo HASSLER (1564-1612) Sacred and secular music - Currende/Erik Van Nevel, rec. 1999-2000 ET'CETERA KTC1409 [75:14 + 67:11] [JV] This production underlines Hassler's importance and the variety and quality of his output.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Missa Sanctae Caeciliae - Lucia Popp (soprano) Doris Soffel (contralto) Horst Laubenthal (tenor) Kurt Moll (bass) Bavarian RSO & Ch/Rafael Kubelik rec. 1982 ARTHAUS MUSIK 101533 DVD [73:00] [DBi] A great performance of great music in a beautiful German abbey. 

Hans Werner HENZE (b. 1926) Hans Werner Henze and the Requiem - Dimitri Vassilakis (piano) Reinhold Friedrich (trumpet) Bochumer Symphoniker/Steven Sloane rec. 2010 CYBELE KIG003 SACD [3 SACDs: 159:02]   [MS] A strange but strangely captivating Requiem by Henze given a superb and memorable performance with bonuses.

Johann Wilhelm HERTEL (1727-1789) Bassoon concertos, Sinfonia - Sergio Azzolini, Miho Fukui (bassoons) Capriccio Barockorchester/Dominik Kiefer rec. 2010 TUDOR 7182 [82:11] [JV] If there is any way to demonstrate that a little-known composer deserves more attention, this is the way to do it.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Planets York BOWEN (1884-1961) Suite in Three Movements - Fiona York & John York (piano) rec. 2010 NIMBUS NI5871 [70:28] [JF] An excellent recording from a totally committed duo. Utterly sympathetic and inspired.

Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) The Winchester Service - Simon Bell (organ) Winchester Cathedral Ch/Andrew Lumsden rec. 2010 HYPERION CDA67853 [68:30] [WH] A superb, unmissable recital of Howells’ later choral and organ works.

Vincent d’INDY (1851-1931) Orchestral Works Vol. 4: Počme des rivages - Suite symphonique en quatre tableaux, Symphonie italienne - Iceland SO/Rumon Gamba rec. 2010 CHANDOS CHAN 10660 [76:53] [DM] Sheer, unadulterated pleasure. Go on, treat yourself.

Charles IVES (1874-1954) A Concord Symphony Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Organ Symphony - Paul Jacobs (organ) San Francisco SO/Michael Tilson Thomas rec. 2010 SFS MEDIA 82193600382 SACD [77:07] [KM] A must for any fan of Ives. The Concord Symphony is a magnificent realization, and the performance here is top-notch.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Suite for String Orchestra, String Quartet 1 Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Sextet Pavel HAAS (1899-1944) Study for string orchestra - Janáček CO rec. 2009/10 CHANDOS CHAN 10678 [64:36] [BR] For fans of Janáček, Haas, and Martinů, an hour of guaranteed satisfaction.

Vasily KALINNIKOV (1866-1901) Symphonies 1 & 2 - Malaysian PO/Kees Bakels rec. 2000 BIS-CD-1155 [77:29] [DM] A very special disc indeed.

Nikolai KAPUSTIN (b.1937) 2 + 2 4 Kapustin Concerto for two pianos and percussion, Eight Concert Etudes, Sonata 14 - Daniel del Pino, Ludmil Angelov (pianos) Neopercusión NON PROFIT MUSIC SACD NPM1011 [6446] [RB] CDs of Kapustin are far too rare and it is a delight to welcome this one. 

Johann KUHNAU (1660–1722) & Vincenzo ALBRICI (1631-1696) Soprano Cantatas - Barbara Christina Steude (soprano) Concerto con voce/Jan Katzschke rec. 2009 CPO 777 531-2 [67:32] [MS] There are few enough recordings of Kuhnau to make this a recommendable recording even if it did not have the vibrancy and immediacy that it does.

Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952) Music of the Spheres Danish Ntl Ch, Vocal Ensemble & SO/Thomas Dausgaard rec. 2009-10 DACAPO 6.220535 SACD [71:53] [DM] A real cracker. Absolutely not to be missed.

Denis LEVAILLANT (b.1952) La Petite Danseuse de Degas - Ballet & O de l’Opéra National de Paris/Koen Kessels EUROARTS DVD 108 026 [112:00] [IL] An inspired and visually ravishing creation. This ballet deserves to go from success to success.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Harmonies du soir - Nelson Freire (piano) rec. 2011 DECCA 478 2728 [56.09] [RBe] An absolutely superlative recital.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Venezia e Napoli, Années de Pčlerinage III: Troisičme Année - Michael Korstick (piano) rec. 2010 CPO 777 663-2 [72:18] [DC] Nothing but admiration and wonder for this achievement.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Piano Sonata, Aprčs une Lecture de Dante, Hungarian Rhapsodies 12 & 13 - Mykola Suk (piano) rec. 2004-08 MUSIC AND ARTS CD-1234 [79:15] [JW] One of the most compelling and amazing performances of the Sonata imaginable. Tremendous. 

Witold LUTOSLAWSKI (1913-1994) Silesian Triptych, Paroles Tissées, Les Espaces du Sommeil, Chantefleurs et Chantefables - Lucy Crowe (soprano) Toby Spence (tenor) Christopher Purves (baritone) BBC SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2011 CHANDOS CHAN10688 [67:40] [WH] Magnificent music, superbly performed by an all-British team, and with outstanding Chandos sound and presentation to match.

James MacMILLAN (b. 1959) A Different World - Gregory Harrington (violin) Simon Mulligan (piano) Caroline Stinson (cello) rec. 2009 ESTILE RECORDS 391651 [63:56] [MS] A compelling and wonderfully-executed recital of James MacMillan's smaller-scale music for piano, violin and cello in a variety of combinations that are not to be ignored. Buy this CD!

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 1 - Pittsburgh SO/Manfred Honeck rec. 2008 EXTON EXCL-00026 SACD [57:59] [MC] Manfred Honeck is on course to be a great Mahlerian. 

Gustav MAHLER (1860–1911) Symphony 2 - Kate Royal (soprano) Magdalena Kožená (mezzo) Rundfunkchor Berlin, Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2010 EMI CLASSICS 6473632 [86:23] [JQ] Acquire this superb new Mahler Second – but hang on to your copy of Rattle’s 1986 recording too!

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 2 - Kathleen Battle (soprano) Christa Ludwig (mezzo) Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor, Vienna PO/James Levine rec. 1989 ORFEO C837112B [23:28 + 65:37] [DM] Surely one of the great Resurrections of our time. 

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 2 - Michaela Kaune (soprano) Dagmar Pecková (alto) NDR Ch, Staatschor Latvija, Philharmoniker Hamburg/Simone Young rec. 2010 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 412 [79:27] [DM] Hugely impressive, a must for all Mahlerians.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 4, Rückert-Lieder - Magdalena Kožená (mezzo) Lucerne FO/Claudio Abbado rec. 2009 EUROARTS 2057988 DVD [79:24] [DM] A must-have for all Mahlerians.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 4 - Sarah Fox (soprano) Philharmonia O/Sir Charles Mackerras rec. 2006 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD219 [56:43] [JQ] This is a very fine Mahler Fourth and a treasurable example of the work of a great conductor in repertoire with which he was not automatically associated.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 5 - Lucerne Fest O/Claudio Abbado rec. 2004 EUROARTS 2054074 BLU-RAY [74:00] [DBi] An essential purchase that places itself firmly with the top few of a long list of Mahler Fives. 

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 6 - Philharmonia O/Esa-Pekka Salonen rec. 2009 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD275 [80:35] [TP] Unbridled excellence … tiny price tag.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 8 - Soloists, London PO/Klaus Tennstedt rec. 1991 LPO 0052 [26:19 + 60:42] [JQ] This extraordinary, visionary reading of the Eighth is an unforgettable experience.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Kindertotenlieder, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Rückert-Lieder - Katarina Karnéus (mezzo) Gothenburg SO/Susanna Mälkki rec. 2007/2010 BIS-SACD-1600 SACD [64:11] [GF] Don’t miss this issue, dear reader.

Frank MARTIN (1890-1974) Der Sturm - Soloists, Netherlands Radio PO/Thierry Fischer rec. 2008 HYPERION CDA67821/3 [3 CDs: 54:48 + 53:35 + 44:25] [RB] Magically re-imagined and brought to harvest.

Bohuslav MARTINU (1890-1959) Le Jour de Bonté - Prague Chamber Ch, Pilsen PO/Milan Kanák rec. 2009 ARCO DIVA UP 6121-2 131 [73:16] A delight. Charming and interesting and leaves you hungry for more. [ST] One of the highlights and discoveries of the Martinu celebrations. [RB]

Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809-1847) Symphonies 3 & 4 - Musikkollegium Winterthur/Heinz Holliger rec. 2010 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM 9011663-6 SACD [67:33] [JS] An important and immensely enjoyable disc.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Violin Concerto, Octet - James Ehnes (violin) Philharmonia O/Vladimir Ashkenazy, Seattle Chamber Music Soc rec. 2010 ONYX 4060 [57:31] [KS] Flawless, perfect, profound; James Ehnes scores another home run with this incomparable performance.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Exultent caeli - O of Age of Enlightenment/Robert Howarth rec. 2010 SIGNUM SIGCD237 [49:08 + 47:59] [JS] In a word: magnificent.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Horn Concertos 1-4 - Alessio Allegrini (horn) O Mozart/Claudio Abbado rec. 2005-7 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 8083 [53:20] [MG] Glorious horn playing with alert, sensitive orchestral backing. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-91) Piano Concertos 20 & 27 - Mitsuko Uchida (piano and director) Cleveland O rec. 2010 DECCA 4782596 [65:46] [PBW] An outstanding CD by one of the greatest Mozart players of our time, beautifully recorded.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Concertos 3 & 5, Sinfonia Concertante - Richard Tognetti (violin & leader) Christopher Moore (viola) Australian CO rec. 2009 BIS-SACD-1754 SACD [79:52] [DC] Mozart brought to life …extremely communicative.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Die Entführung aus dem Serail - Eva Mei (soprano) Rainer Trost (tenor) Patrizia Ciofi (soprano) Ch & O Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Zubin Mehta rec. 2002 ARTHAUS MUSIC 107109 DVD [136:00] [RJF] High picture quality and sound, elegantly staged and well sung … a first choice for me in this opera.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Arias - Ildebrando d’Arcangelo (bass-baritone) O del Teatro Regio di Torino/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2010 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 9297 [60:45] [GF] One of the most thrilling bass recitals that has come my way.

Thea MUSGRAVE (b. 1928) An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, Green, Wild Winter I - Scottish Ens, Red Byrd, Fretwork, London Sinf/Thea Musgrave rec. 1981-2008 NMC D167 [64:54] [WH] Three magnificent works, superbly performed and recorded by the BBC.

Pehr Henrik NORDGREN (1944-2008) Concerto for Saxophone Quartet Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935) Fratres Áskell MÁSSON (b. 1953) Quatrain Kalevi AHO (b. 1949) In Memoriam Pehr Henrik Nordgren - John Storgårds (violin) Raschčr Saxophone Qt, Lapland CO/John Storgårds rec. 2010 ALBA ABCD 322 SACD [64:06] [DM] Sheer, unalloyed pleasure.

Gösta NYSTROEM (1890-1966) Sinfonia breve, Sinfonia del mare - Malena Ernman (mezzo) Malmö SO/Christoph König rec. 2006/2007 BIS-CD-1682 [57:04] [RB] Neo-romantic music-making with a dramatic spine.

Hans OTTE (1926-2007) Das Buch der Klänge - Ralph van Raat (piano) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572444 [67:24] [DC] An open door into magical worlds.

Hans PFITZNER (1869-1949) Violin Concerto Siegfried WAGNER (1869-1930) Violin Concerto Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Träume - Juraj Cizmarovic (violin) WDR RSO Cologne/Marcus Bosch rec. 2009 COVIELLO CLASSICS COV31104 [64:03] [MC] Quite a discovery. 

Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Tiempo del Angel - Astoria FUGA LIBERA FUG603 [51:30] [DJB] Unless you have a complete aversion to the accordion and/or the tango, this is wonderful.

Gabriel PIERNÉ (1863–1937) Variations en ut mineur, Etude de concert, Trois pičces formant suite de concert, Passacaille - Laurent Wagschal (piano) rec. 2009 TIMPANI 1C1178 [61:41] [HC] A very fine survey of Pierné’s mature output for piano.

Mario PILATI (1903-1938) Preludio, Aria e Tarantella, Four Italian Folksongs, Bagatelles, Divertimento - Moscow SO/Adriano rec. 2007/8 INEDITA PI 2757 [52:32] [IL] A thoroughly delightful, light-hearted collection.

Giovanni Benedetto PLATTI (1697 - 1763) Oboe sonatas, Cello sonatas, Trios - Ensemble Cordia rec. 2005 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94007 [65:36] [JV] The best possible recording of Platti's music.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Concerto 2 Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Piano Concerto - Anna Vinnitskaya (piano) Deutsches SO Berlin/Gilbert Varga rec. 2010 NAÏVE V5238 [54:30] [GD] I can't wait to hear some more.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) The Gambler - Misha Didyk (tenor) Kristine Opolais (soprano) Vladimir Ognovenko (bass) Stefania Toczyska (mezzo) Staatsopernchor & Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim rec. 2008 UNITEL CLASSICA/KULTUR 701708 DVD [136:15] [RC] This is a major triumph.

Sergey PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Romeo and Juliet - Tamara Rojo, Carlos Acosta, Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Boris Gruzin rec. 2007 DECCA 074 3336 BLU-RAY [138:00] [DM] Nureyev and Fonteyn will always be iconic but this is in another league entirely. 

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concertos 1 & 4, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini - Simon Trpceski (piano) Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2009-2011 AVIE AV2191 [77:09] [JQ] If you haven’t already sampled this fine partnership of Trpceski and Petrenko in Rachmaninov, don’t delay any longer!

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concerto 2 Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Liebestraum 3, Mephisto 1, Hungarian Rhapsody 2 - Nobuyuki Tsujii (piano) Deutsches SO Berlin/Yutaka Sado rec. 2007/8 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72371 [59:50] [MC] Tsujii is a force to be reckoned with.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) A Tribute to Rachmaninoff - Vladimir Feltsman (piano) Russian Ntl SO/Mikhail Pletnev rec. 1992/2010 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6148 [65:14] [RMo] A collector’s disc where it is very easy to make allowances for the sonic deficiencies in the concerto.

Einojuhani RAUTAVAARA (b. 1928) Kaivos - Hannu Niemelä, Johanna Rusanen-Kartano, Jorma Hynninen, Kaivos Ch, Tampere PO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2010 ONDINE ODE1174-2 [75:52] [HC] A magnificent performance of Rautavaara’s first and finest opera. 

Max REGER (1873-1916) Piano Concerto Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Burleske - Marc-Andre Hamelin (piano) Berlin RSO/Ilan Volkov rec. 2010 HYPERION CDA67635 [56.53] [RBe] Absolutely outstanding. 

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Fontane di Roma, Pini di Roma, Feste Romane - Săo Paolo SO/John Neschling rec. 2008 BIS-SACD-1720 SACD [63:41] [DC] Bravo!

Johann ROSENMÜLLER (1619-1684) Sonatas Giovanni LEGRENZI (1626-1690) Sonatas Alessandro STRADELLA (1639-1682) Sinfonias - Rare Fruits Council/Manfredo Kraemer rec. 2010 AMBRONAY AMY028 [81.53] [GH] Not just a disc for specialists. Exemplary musicianship, breath-taking virtuosity and superb presentation. Sheer musical pleasure.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Petite Messe Solennelle - Gewandhaus Ch & O/Riccardo Chailly rec. 2008 EUROARTS 2057428 DVD [85:00] [RJF] This performance not only elevates this rarely heard work to stand alongside the composer’s better-known Stabat Mater, but also the great Mass by his fellow Italian opera composer, Verdi.

Johann Christoph ROTHE (1653-1700) St Matthew Passion - Cantus Thuringia, Capella Thuringia/Bernhard Klapprott rec. 2009 CPO 777 554-2 [63:05 + 34:07] [JV] This St Matthew Passion is a major discovery - the performance fully explores its expressive qualities.

Ludomir ROZYCKI (1883-1953) Ballade, Piano Concerto 1 - Krystyna Makowska-Lawrynowicz (piano) Polish Radio & TV SO Cracow/Szymon Kawalla, Andrzej Straszynski rec. 1984-90 ACTE PREALABLE AP0217 [42:11] [RB] I liked this music a great deal and hope that there will be much more Rozycki.

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) Keyboard Sonatas - Alexandre Tharaud (piano) rec. 2010 VIRGIN CLASSICS 6420160 [70.45] [RBe] Absolutely superb … a glorious addition to the Scarlatti discography.

Heinrich SCHEIDEMANN (c.1595-1663) Magnificat settings for organ - Karin Nelson (organ) rec. 2010 INTIM MUSIK IMCD 116 [53:34 + 62:42] [Byz] An outstanding disc in every regard.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Accompanying Music to a Film Scene, Chamber Symphony 1 Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Quartet 1 (orch. Schoenberg) - Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2009 EMI CLASSICS 4578152 [73:40] [MC] Without doubt, this release will be a strong contender for my Recordings of the Year.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphony 9 Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Rienzi overture Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) In a Summer Garden - Royal PO/Sir Thomas Beecham rec. 1955/6 SOMM BEECHAM29 [75:38] [JW] A fantastic performance of Schubert 9.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Schwanengesang, Auf dem Strom, Die Sterne - Mark Padmore (tenor) Paul Lewis (piano) Richard Watkins (horn) rec. 2010 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907520 [67:25] [JQ] A magnificent reading of Schwanengesang.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828) Schwanengesang - Thomas Oliemans (baritone) Malcolm Martineau (piano) rec. 2010 ET’CETERA KTC 1420 [69:04] [GF] One of the most thrilling young baritones around.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797 - 1828) Winterreise - Natalie Stutzmann (contralto) Inger Södergren (piano) rec. 2003 SAPHIR LVC1153 [76:21] [GF] No performance of Winterreise has touched me as much as this one. 

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Duets - Paul Lewis, Steven Osborne (piano) rec. 2010 HYPERION CDA67665 [76:06] [DC] A perfect partnering: Schubert in all his brilliance and emotive power.

Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942) Suite, Sonatas 1 & 2, Sonata for solo violin - Tanja Becker-Bender (violin) Markus Becker (piano) rec. 2010 HYPERION CDA67833 [67:10] [DC] Can only be described in superlatives.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphonies 1-4 - Robert-Schumann-Philharmonie/Frank Beermann rec. 2009/10 CPO SACD 777 536-2 [64:19 + 57:00] [RB] A glorious Schumann cycle for the ages.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Album für die Jugend - Alessandra Ammara (piano) rec. 2010 ARTS 47756-8 SACD [73:52] [RBe] The best performance of Album for the Young I have ever heard and probably one of the best discs of Schumann piano music I have ever listened to.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Humoreske, Studien Fur Den Pedalflugel, Gesänge der Frühe - Piotr Anderszewski (piano) rec. 2010 VIRGIN CLASSICS 9486252 [63.31] [RBe] This is a really wonderful Schumann recital and one of the most moving piano recitals I have ever heard.

Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585-1672) Musicalische Exequien, Motets - Vox Luminis/Lionel Meunier rec. 1999/2010 RICERCAR RIC311 [55:07] [JV] One of the best recordings of Schütz' Musicalische Exequien.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 4 - Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie, Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Mainz/Daniel Raiskin rec. 2009, C-AVI 8553235 [65:30] [DM] Shattering, unforgettable Shostakovich.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Trios 1 & 2, Seven Romances on Poems of Alexander Blok - Susan Gritton (soprano) Florestan Trio rec. 2010 HYPERION CDA67834 [61:53] [LW] A superb disc of Shostakovich’s piano trios and Blok songs by the Florestan Trio and guest. 

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) New Babylon - Basel Sinf/Mark Fitz-Gerald rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572824-25 [43:15 + 48:08] [SA] It is a great addition to any collector of his music and is superbly played on this disc.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) New Babylon - Basel Sinf/Mark Fitz-Gerald rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572824-25 [43:15 + 48:08] [NB] Without doubt this is one the finest all-round achievements by Naxos. 

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Lemminkäinen Suite Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Peer Gynt Suite 1 - Philadelphia O/Eugene Ormandy rec. 1947-51 PRISTINE PASC 299 [56:52] [RB] A  Lemminkainen Suite to remind us of Ormandy's Sibelian fire and of why he was rated so highly by the composer himself.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) The Sibelius Edition - Vol. 13: Miscellaneous Works BIS BIS-CD-1936-38 [4 CDs + DVD: 285:12] [RB] The valedictory volume to a momentous 21st century monument to music.

Roberto SIERRA (b.1953) Piano Trios 1-3, Fanfarria, Aria y Movimiento Perpetuo - Trío Arbós rec. 2009 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559611 [53.05] [Byz] This must be the most immediately attractive 'serial' music ever written!

Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Piano Trio 1, Legend, Jig, Hush Song, Piano Quartet 2 - Gould Piano Trio, David Adams (viola) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572452 [79:48] [CH] Major works, finely performed. Deserves to be a bestseller.

Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Piano Trio 1, Legend, Irish Fantasies, Piano Quartet 2 - Gould Piano Trio, David Adams (viola) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572452 [79:47] [JF] How anyone could listen to this CD and still believe that Stanford’s music is ‘as dry as dust’ totally evades me.

Max STEINER (1888-1971) The Classic Film Scores - National PO/Charles Gerhardt rec. 1973 SONY/RCA RED SEAL 88697 812702 [53:12] [IL] A fine tribute to one of the leading film music pioneers of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Allan STEPHENSON (b.1948?) Double bass concerto, Burlesque, Cello concerto - Leon Bosch (double bass) Peter Martens (cello) Cape PO/Allan Stephenson rec. 2010 MERIDIAN CDE84602 [62:00] [RB] Power-floated melodies of sumptuous breadth and superb emotional impact.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Capriccio - Renée Fleming, Anne Sofie von Otter, Robert Tear, Paris Ntl Opéra O/Ulf Schirmer rec. 2004 ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD 107 327 [2 DVDs: 148:00] [ST] Watching it helped me to rediscover afresh the joys of Strauss’s final masterpiece, and that’s high praise to give to any recording.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Elektra - Iréne Theorin (soprano) Eva-Maria Westbroek (soprano) Waltraud Meier (soprano) René Pape (bass) Vienna PO/Daniele Gatti rec. 2010 ARTHAUS MUSIK 101 559 DVD [109:00] [ST] It is as good a staged Elektra as you are likely to find.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Pétrouchka, Le Sacre du Printemps - Bergen PO/Andrew Litton rec. 2008/9 BIS BISSACD1474 SACD [69:00] [DC] Stop press: crusty old cynic declares recording as ‘near definitive’.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) L’Oiseau de Feu, Petrouchka, La Sacre du Printemps, Pulcinella - Monte Carlo PO/Yakov Kreizberg rec. 2010 OPMC CLASSICS OPMC001 [3 CDs: 159:54] [BW] Individually these performances are at or near the top of the pile; collectively this is an irresistible offering.

Alessandro STRIGGIO (c.1536/7-1592) Missa Ecco sì beato giorno Thomas TALLIS (c.1505-1585) Spem in alium - I Fagiolini/Robert Hollingworth rec. 2010 DECCA 478 2734 [CD: 68:53 + DVD: 57:55] [DC] Truly magnificent.

Josef SUK (1874-1935) Asrael Symphony - Czech PO/Sir Charles Mackerras rec. 2007 SUPRAPHON SU 4043-2 [60:01] [RB] The best modern version.

Svend Erik TARP (1908-1994) Theme with variations, Suite, Sonatinas, Improvisations, Sonata - Tonya Lemoh (piano) rec. 2010 DACAPO 8.226053 [58:32] A quality artefact that all but recommends itself [Byz] Do try this most intriguing and musically valuable disc [RB]

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 4 Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) A Night on the Bare Mountain Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) The Love for Three Oranges Suite - BBC Singers, BBC SO & Ch/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky rec. 1979/81 ICA CLASSICS ICAC5035 [68:34] [DM] A most entertaining collection. Another fine issue from ICA.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 5, 1812 Overture Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936) Sten'ka Razin - Berlin State Opera O, Berlin PO/Alexander Kitschin rec. 1928-29 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 268 [72:21] [JW] A rather amazing disc.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Piano Concerti 1-3 - Viktoria Postnikova (piano) Wiener SO/Gennady Rozhdestvensky rec. 1982 NEWTON CLASSICS 8802027 [56:23 + 49:50] [RB] Bold as brass, red-blooded, wide-stage and almost luridly exciting in the grandest Decca FFRR tradition.

Jukka TIENSUU (b. 1948) Vie Missa, False Memories I-III - Kari Kriikku (clarinet) Helsinki PO/John Storgĺrds rec. 2009/10 ONDINE ODE 1166-2 [64:34] [HC] A most desirable addition to Tiensuu’s discography … magnificent.

Manfred TROJAHN (b. 1949) String Quartets 3 & 4, Fragments for Antigone, Song to Insomnia III - Henschel Qt rec. 2009 NEOS RECORDS 11017 [66:04] [MC] A cast-iron certainty to be one of my ‘Recordings of the Year’ for 2011.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) A Sea Symphony - Geraldine McGreevy (soprano) Tommi Hakala (baritone) MDR SO & Radio Ch/Howard Arman rec. 2007 MDR KONZERTE VKJK 0731 [66:19] [WH] Mainly German forces combine for a very fine performance of the Sea Symphony – this disc is an unexpected gem.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphony 2, Oboe concerto - Stéphane Rancourt (oboe) Hallé O/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2010 HALLÉ CDHLL7529 [65:56] [JQ] This disc continues the rich vein of recordings of English music by Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901) La traviata - Patrizia Ciofi (soprano) Roberto Saccŕ (tenor) Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone) Eufemia Tufano (mezzo) Ch & O Teatro La Fenice/Lorin Maazel rec. 2004 ARTHAUS DVD 107 227 [146:00] [GF] This Violetta has looks, acting ability and voice placing her among the best.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678 - 1741) Complete Cello Sonatas - David Watkin (cello) Helen Gough (cello continuo) David Miller (theorbo, archlute, guitar) Robert King (harpsichord, organ) rec. 1993 HYPERION DYAD CDD22065 [65:35 + 50:02] [JV] Don’t delay; purchase this reissue today.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) L'Estro Armonico Concertos - Mercury Baroque/Antoine Plante rec.2010 MERCURY BAROQUE/HPR 84501 38529 [66:14] [DB] Eight concertos from Vivaldi's great L'Estro Armonico, performed as well as it is possible to imagine and excellently recorded. 

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Ercole dul Termodonte - Rolando Villazon (tenor) Patrizia Ciofi, Diana Damrau (sopranos) Joyce DiDonato, Vivica Genaux (mezzos) Philippe Jaroussky (counter-tenor) Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi rec. 2008-10 VIRGIN CLASSICS 6945450 [65:05 + 78:56] [ST] Whether you buy this set for some magnificent singing or to get to know a once lost opera, you will find plenty to enjoy. 

Richard WAGNER (1813–1883) The Ring Without Words – A Symphonic Synthesis (arr. Lorin Maazel) - Berlin PO/Lorin Maazel rec. 2000 EUROARTS 2057604 [88:00] Blu-ray [DM] Early days yet, but this is already on my list of picks for 2011.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg orch. excerpts César FRANCK (1822-1890) Symphony Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Pelléas et Mélisande – Boston SO/Charles Munch rec. 1959-1961 ICA CLASSICS DVD ICAD 5015 [70:28] [RM] A very significant musical record.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Das Rheingold - Terje Stensvold, Dietrich Volle, Frankfurter Opern & Museums O/Sebastian Weigle rec. 2010 OEHMS CLASSICS OC935 [77:46 + 76:48] [GD] The closest to the almost mythical ideal of a Wagner recording in which both performance and engineering are of the highest quality.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Children’s Notebooks 1-3, Piano Sonata 1 - Elisaveta Blumina (piano) rec. 2008 CPO 777 517-2 [60:54] [SA] Blumina approaches this music with great understanding and appreciation and it makes for a wonderfully illuminating experience.

Earl WILD (1915-2010) Grand Fantasy, Virtuoso Études, Someone to Watch over Me, Piano Sonata - Xiayin Wang (piano) rec. 2010 CHANDOS CHAN10626 [79:01] [NB] A tribute to the much-missed art of Earl Wild and a herald of things to come from the remarkable Xiayin Wang.

Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) Mörike-Lieder - Wolfgang Holzmair (baritone) Imogen Cooper (piano) WIGMORE HALL LIVE WHLIVE0029 [73:25] [CC] Magnificently focused, with little or no sense of strain … seemingly infinite sensitivity. A very special disc.

Jan Dismas ZELENKA (1679-1745) Officium defunctorium, Requiem - Collegium 1704 & Vocale/Václav Luks rec. 2010 ACCENT ACC 24244 [61:26 + 40:04] [DC] Drop dead gorgeousness.

Johann Rudolph ZUMSTEEG (1760 - 1802) Die Geisterinsel - Kammerchor Stuttgart, Hofkapelle Stuttgart/Frieder Bernius rec. 2010 CARUS 83.229 [3 CDs: 139:26] [JV] Enjoyable Singspiel in a fine performance with an impressive cast.

Of Another Time Yun Kyong Kim (organ) rec. 2009 MSR CLASSICS MS1362 [70:14] [JS] A programme lovingly compiled and played, excellently recorded.

Martha Argerich Edition: Chamber Music rec. 1991-2008 EMI CLASSICS 0940142 [8 CDs: 9:51:00] [SA] A set that no chamber music lover should be without.

British Women Composers Ethel SMYTH (1858-1944) Violin Sonata Elizabeth MACONCHY (1907-1994) Three Preludes Irène Regina WIENIAWSKA (1879-1932) Violin Sonata Phyllis TATE (1911-1987) Triptych Clare Howick (violin) Sophia Rahman (piano) rec. 2008 NAXOS 8.572291 [78:09] [GH] An imaginative programme, brilliantly handled … a very generously filled CD.

Cantiones Sacrae 1575 Motet sequence by Tallis & Byrd - Alamire/David Skinner rec. 2009/10 OBSIDIAN OBSID-CD706 [74:37 + 55:47] [JQ] An exceptionally fine complete recording.

Capricho Latino Rachel Barton-Pine (violin) rec. 2009-11 CEDILLE RECORDS CDR 90000124 [79:38] [NB] Even by Barton-Pine’s formidable standards this is of staggering quality.

Cello Master Class Maria Kliegel (cello) Lynn Kao (piano) NAXOS 2.110280-81 DVD [2 DVDs: c. 8 hrs] + book (198pp) [JS] Surely an essential purchase for any aspiring player.

La Chasse Royale Keyboard Manuscript of Antoine Selosse - Terence Charlston (clavichord, harpsichord, organ) rec. 2009 DEUX-ELLES DXL1143 [59:19 + 33:30] [JV] Terence Charlston has done it again: another fine recording of unknown but high-quality repertoire.

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky - Soundtrack to the Film by Jan Kounen Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Rite of Spring, piano pieces Gabriel YARED (b. 1949) Filmscore - Christophe Bukudjian, Gabriel Yared (piano) Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle, Film O/Jeff Atmajian rec. 2003 NAĎVE V 5223 [71:15] [MC] Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic in quite magnificent form.

Come Away, Death Wolfgang PLAGGE (b.1960) Södergran-sanger Maja Solveig Kjelstrup RATKJE (b.1973) HVIL Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Songs and Dances of Death - Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo) Sergej Osadchuk (piano) rec. 2009 2L 2L064SACD SACD [63:32] [OL] This disc gave me one of the strongest musical experiences I have ever had.

Diva, Divo Joyce DiDonato (mezzo) Ch & O l’Opéra National de Lyon/Kazushi Ono rec. 2010 VIRGIN CLASSICS 6419860 [80:41] [JQ] Simply sensational!

Duos for Violin & Cello Works by Martinů, Süss, Klein, Dünser, Schulhoff & Toch - Eufonia Duo Vienna rec. 2010 VMS MUSICAL TREASURES VMS224 [76.00] [SA] 76 minutes of aurally sublime and fascinating music.

English Spring Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Spring Fire (1913) [32:33] Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Idylle de Printemps (1889) [10:45]; North Country Sketches: The March of Spring (1914) [10:08] Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Enter Spring (1927) [20:50] - Halle O/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2010 HALLE CD HLL 7528 [74:30] [RB] A winner on all counts.

Festival Music from the Düben Collection Göteborg Baroque/Magnus Kjellson rec. 2009 FOOTPRINT FRCD 053 [68:14] [JV] This programme of music from the Düben Collection is given spirited performances by Göteborg Baroque.

Flights of Fantasy Early Italian Chamber Music - Irish Baroque Orch. Chamber Soloists/Monica Huggett, rec. 2009 AVIE AV2202 [78:56] [JV] The Italian composers of the 17th century let their fantasy fly, and so do Monica Huggett and her colleagues.

The Grand Organ of Canterbury Cathedral John Robinson (organ) rec. 2010 PRIORY PRDVD6 DVD [78:06] [ST] Will give tremendous pleasure to any discerning music-lover.

In the Beginning Works by Jackson, Weelkes, Palestrina, Whitacre, Holst, Gombert, Lukaszewski & Copland -  Natasha Tyrwhitt-Drake (organ) Ch Merton College, Oxford/Peter Philips, Benjamin Nicholas rec. 2011 DELPHIAN DCD34072 [69:14] [JQ] A most auspicious debut on CD for the Merton College Choir.

The Italian Intermezzo Music Without Words from operas by Cilea, Puccini, Catalani, Giordano, Ponchielly, Mascagni, Verdi, Wolf-Ferrari & Leoncavallo - BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2008-10 CHANDOS CHAN 10634 [72:32] [IL] Magical, uninhibited heart-on-sleeve performances delivered in the very best Chandos sound.

Kaleidoscope Maria Forsström (contralto) Andreas Edlund (harpsichord) Matti Hirvonen (piano) rec. 2010/11 MUSICA REDIVIVA MRSACD020 SACD [71:32] [GF] A varied and fascinating and superbly executed disc. 

Lamentarium Works by Rossi, Marazzoli & Pasqualini - Atalante/Erin Headley rec. 2010 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6152 [67:17] [JV] One of the best recordings I have heard all year.

Lettere Amorose Magdalena Kožená (mezzo) Private Musicke/Pierre Pitzl, rec. 2009 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 8764 [61:33] [GF] Kožená and Private Musicke convey their love for this music in readings filled to the brim with feeling and passion.

Peter Mattei Great Baritone Arias - Royal Stockholm PO/Lawrence Renes rec. 2008-10 BIS BISSACD1749 SACD [63:51] [OL] A glorious disc!

My True Love Hath My Heart Songs by British composers - Sarah Connolly (mezzo) Malcolm Martineau (piano) rec. 2011 CHANDOS CHAN 10691 [63:00] [JQ] An outstanding recital of English song.

Anna Netrebko - Live at the Metropolitan Opera Metropolitan Opera Ch & O rec. 2002-2010 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 9903 [66:01] [OL] A great souvenir of a most wonderful voice.

North German Organ Music Vol. 1 Works by Tunder, Peter Hasse, Buxtehude, Schiefferdecker, Bach & Bruhns - Martin Rost (organ) rec. 2010 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 320 1624-2 [65:52] [JV] An impressive portrait of one of Europe's most glorious historical organs.

Note by Note - The making of Steinway L1037 Ben Niles (director) - Featuring Pierra-Laurent Aimard, Hélène Grimaud, Lang Lang & Harry Connick Jnr rec. 2007 DOCURAMA FILMS DVD NNVG146510 [81:00 + extras] [DJB] Inspirational and illuminating.

On Christmas Night Ch St John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha rec. 2011 CHANDOS CHSA5096 SACD [74:22] [JQ] This excellent and most enjoyable disc will be a high quality Christmas present for a musical friend - or to give to yourself!

Organ Fireworks Vol. 14 Christopher Herrick (Melbourne Town Hall grand organ) rec. 2009 HYPERION CDA67758 [72:16] [BW] Another very successful fireworks display.

The Queen’s Music Italian vocal duets & trios by Rossi, Frescobaldi & Carissimi  - Emma Kirkby, Susanne Rydén (sopranos) Peter Harvey (baritone) Mikarl Bellini (counter-tenor) Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (cello) Lars Ulrik Mortensen (harpsichord) rec. 2008 BIS BIS-CD-1715 [68:16] [BW] Essential listening for Emma Kirkby’s many fans: if you’re not one already, this may well win you over.

Rhythms & Blues Works by Barber, Rubin, Scherzinger, Adams, Bolcom, Morton & Swigger - Jocelyn Swigger (piano) rec. 2009 CON BRIO RECORDINGS CBR21046 [70:33] [BR] What a great surprise: American rags, blues, and minimalism together in a superb program.

Scandinavian Classics - Vol. 3 Edvard GRIEG (1843–1907) Symphonic Dances, Norwegian Dances Harald SĆVERUD (1897–1992) Peer Gynt Jean SIBELIUS (1865–1957) Violin Concerto, Lemminkainen Legends - Emil Telmányi (violin) Danish State RSO/Erik Tuxen, Thomas Jensen rec. 1949-53 DANACORD DACOCD697/8 [75:46 + 78:26] [BBr] A well deserved Bravo!, and three cheers to Danacord for making these recordings available once again. 

The Art of Andres Segovia - Vol. 6 rec. 1944-56 IDIS 6603 [56.40] [ZT] A historical treasure.

Grigory Sokolov - Live in Paris Grigory Sokolov (pno) rec. 2002 MEDICI ARTS 3073888 DVD [123:02] [CC] A rare opportunity to savour the art of Grigory Sokolov, that most reclusive of pianists.

Sonatas and Scenes Danish works for solo cello by Nørgård, Fundal, Brødsgaard, Nielsen & Helweg - John Ehde (cello) rec. 2009/10 CDKLASSISK CDK1061 [61:09] [Byz] Brilliance of technique, sureness of tone and depth of expression.

That’s Entertainment - A Celebration of the MGM Film Musical - Kim Criswell, Matthew Ford, Seth MacFarlane, Curtis Stigers, Maida Vale Singers, The John Wilson O/John Wilson rec. 2011 EMI CLASSICS 028 8452 [77:20] [IL] Fans of those spectacular MGM musicals shouldn’t hesitate.


Bargains of the Month

Jehan ALAIN (1911-1940) Complete Works for Organ - Jean-Baptiste Robin (organ) rec. 2009/2010 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94233 [3 CDs: 71:58 + 71:37 + 79:26] [DC] Not quite perfect, but still worth every penny.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cello Suites 1-6 - Luigi Piovano (cello) rec. 2008 ELOQUENTIA AL 1021 [80:30 + 78:00] [GA] A stunning recording of the Six Cello Suites of Bach. It has it all: beauty of sound, musical intelligence and emotional depth.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Piano Concertos 1-3 - András Schiff (piano) Budapest Fest O/Iván Fischer rec. 1996 WARNER APEX 2564 67437-8 [76:04] [DM] Peerless performances, alert, alive, astounding.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, Out of Doors Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Andante & variations Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) En blanc et noir - Martha Argerich, Stephen Kovacevich (pianos) rec. 1969/77 DECCA 478 2467 [68:59] [LW] This disc is not to be missed.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 8, 17 & 23 - Ingrid Fliter (piano) rec. 2011 EMI CLASSICS 094573 2 [72:58] [WH] Outstanding performances of three favourite minor-key Beethoven sonatas.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Roméo et Juliette - Olga Borodina (mezzo) Thomas Moser (tenor) Alastair Miles (bass) Bayerischen Rundfunks Ch, Vienna PO/Sir Colin Davis rec. 1993 NEWTON CLASSICS 8802046 [53:12 + 43:07] [JQ] If you haven’t got a recording of this Berlioz masterpiece in your collection, you really can’t do better than this.

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918–1990) Mass - Jubilant Sykes (tenor) Morgan State U Ch, Peabody Children’s Ch, Baltimore SO/Marin Alsop rec. 2008 NAXOS 8.559622-23 [64:53 + 38:35] [BR] An artistic, sonic, historical and musicological milestone.

Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887) Symphonies 1-3 - Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz rec. 2009 - 2011 NAXOS 8.572786 [78:40] [BR] This is as good as it gets. The Seattle Symphony have become a powerhouse in Russian repertoire.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quintets 1 & 2 - Raphael Ens rec. 1995 HYPERION HELIOS CDH55369 [58:07] [LW] The best option for these quintets.

Pieter BUSTIJN (c.1649-1729) IX Suittes pour le Clavessin - Alessandro Simonetto (harpsichord) rec. 2010 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94187 [78:52] [Byz] This superlative recording by Simonetto is the one to get.

William BYRD (1539?/43?-1623) Masses: For 3, 4 & 5 Voices - Christ Church Cath Choir, Oxford/Stephen Darlington rec. 1989/1991 REGIS RRC1336 [72:11] [BW] Despite the strong competition, this is a superb bargain.

Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano music - Leon McCawley (piano) rec. 2010 SOMM SOMMCD0103 [70.27] [RBe] An outstanding recital.

Antonin DVORÁK (1841-1904) Cello Concerto, Piano Concerto - Mstislav Rostropovich (cello) Frantisek Maxian (piano) Czech PO/Vaclav Talich rec. 1951-2 REGIS RRC1368 [76:52] [RB] Two historic recordings of Dvorák concertos in glorious interpretations.

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Violin concerto, Serenade, Salon pieces, Violin sonata - Marat Bisengaliev (violin) Benjamin Frith (piano) West Kazakhstan PO/Bundit Ungrangsee rec. 1999-2009 NAXOS 8.572643-45 [3 CDs: 194:31] [GA] A captivating Elgar Violin Concerto is worth the price of the set by itself, and the rest is very fine.

Gabriela Lena FRANK (b. 1972) Hilos, Danza de los Saqsampillos, Adagio para Amantaní, Quijotadas - Gabriela Lena Frank (piano) ALIAS Chamber Ens rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.559645 [66:41] [BR] Extremely well-crafted music that’s a great pleasure to hear. Peruvian folk rhythms, but don’t pigeonhole this as “ethnic”.

Alberto GINASTERA (1916-1983) Cello Concertos 1 & 2 - Mark Kosower (cello) Bamberg SO/Lothar Zagrosek rec. 2009/2010 NAXOS 8.572372 [68:58] [Byz] A marvellous team performance making a compelling case for these concertos. The Government must act now to make these compulsory components of the repertoire.

Reinhold GLIERE (1875-1956) Symphonies 1-3, Horn Concerto, The Zaporozhy Cossacks, The Red Poppy & The Bronze Horseman Suites, Concert Waltz, Heroic March, Overtures - BBC Philharmonic/Sir Edward Downes, Vassily Sinaisky rec. 1991-96 CHANDOS CHAN10679(5)X [5 CDs: 348:43] [RB] Done with Chandos style … elite results … voluptuously lyrical and vividly imagined … The price is irresistible.

Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961) Jungle Book - John-Mark Ainsley (tenor) David Wilson-Johnson (baritone) Polyphony and Polyphony O/Stephen Layton rec. 1996 HYPERION HELIOS CDH55433 [73:56] [RB] Generous timing, discoveries, Delian gauzy harmonies, tangy instrumentation, sentimentality, aureate vocal light, succinct and touching settings.

Franz Josef HAYDN (1732-1809) Missa Brevis, “Harmoniemesse” - Trinity Ch, Rebel Baroque O/J. Owen Burdick, Jane Glover rec. 2001/8 NAXOS 8.572126 [52:28] [KS] Exceptionally elegant performances from a first rate band of musicians. This is almost a must-have.

Bernard HERRMANN (1911-1975) Film Classics - National PO, London PO/Bernard Herrmann rec. 1970-5 DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 3784 [72:04 + 68:11] [RB] Do not miss this rich sampling of Herrmann’s extraordinarily imaginative and enjoyable film music.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Sinfonietta, Lachian Dances, Taras Bulba, The Cunning Little Vixen Suite, Jealousy, From The House of the Dead prelude, The Makropoulos Case suite - Czech State Philharmonic, Brno/José Serebrier rec. 1995/6 REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-2103 [65.08+59.40] Tangy, spectacular and heartfelt … devastating value for money [RB] ... A fine introduction to Janáček’s orchestral music and at budget price [LW]

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Songs Vol. 1 - Britta Stallmeister (soprano) Uwe Schenker-Primus (baritone) Klaus Simon (piano) rec. 2007/8 NAXOS 8.572027 [76:53] [IL] A delightful programme comprising the lesser-known Korngold songs delivered to perfection.

Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929-1988) Et Resurrexit, Six Fantasies on Hymn Tunes 4-6, Missa de Gloria - Greg Morris (organ) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572601 [70:10] [NB] Naxos have a winner of a disc here.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) A Faust Symphony - Charles Bressler (tenor) Choral Art Society, New York PO/Leonard Bernstein rec. 1964 SONY 88697 857572 [71:10] [IL] White heat roller-coaster thrills.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Faust & Dante symphonies, Dante sonata, Piano sonata, Hungarian Rhapsody 2, Verdi Paraphrases - Plácido Domingo, Berlin PO/Daniel Barenboim (piano) rec. 1985-98 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 67440-3 [3 CDs: 211:26] [MC] Barenboim and Liszt make a perfect combination making this a desirable Warner Classics box set.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) A Symphony to Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, Aprčs une lecture de Dante - Berlin PO/Daniel Barenboim (piano) rec. 1985/92 WARNER CLASSICS APEX 2564 673012 [66:33] [IL] A welcome reissue of a very exciting reading: Liszt at full diabolical throttle.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Hungarian Rhapsodies 1-19 - Misha Dichter (piano) rec. 1977-1985 NEWTON CLASSICS 8802049 [72:45 + 69:27] [BR] A fantastic set, at bargain price, which treats the rhapsodies more respectfully than most.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) The Complete Piano Music - Leslie Howard (piano) rec. 1985-2009 HYPERION CDS44501/98 [99 CDs: 122 hrs] [RB] Howard brings an archivist’s rigour and a high priest’s fervour to this project.

Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809-1847) Symphony 2 'Lobgesang' - Ruth Ziesak, Mojca Erdmann (sop.) Christian Elsner (ten.) MDR RSO & Ch/Jun Märkl rec. 2008 NAXOS 8.572294 [68:41] [RB] Mendelssohn stirringly and fervently done. Superbly crafted performance.

Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809-1847) Incidental music: Antigone, Oedipus, Athalia - Männerchor 'Carl Maria von Weber', Berlin RSO & Ch/Stefan Soltesz, Das Neue Orch/Christoph Spering rec. 1991-2002 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94216 [3 CDs: 55:27 + 50:33 + 63:19] [RB] Something of an event and unmissable if you are a devoted Mendelssohnian or an impassioned researcher of German romantic theatre music.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Sextet Conradin KREUTZER (1780-1849) Grand Septet Franz BERWALD (1796-1868) Grand Septet Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887) Piano Quintet Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Piano Quintet - Wiener Oktett rec. 1968/72 DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 2397 [63:31 + 77:07] [BR] Tickets to chamber music heaven.

Frederic MOMPOU (1893-1987) Piano Music Vol. 6 - Jordi Masó (piano) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572142 [64:12] [DM] - nothing else will do.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphonies 32, 35, 36, 39 & 41 - Scottish CO/Jukka-Pekka Saraste rec. 1987/90 VIRGIN CLASSICS 0963702 [68:58 + 62:07] [BW] Too tempting a bargain to resist.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1759-1791) Flute & harp concerto, Flute concertos 1 & 2 - Emmanuel Pahud (flute) Marie-Pierre Langlamet (harp) Berlin PO/Claudio Abbado rec. 1996 EMI CLASSICS 9659372 [71:06] [CR] Unmissable. one of the best Mozart flute concerto recordings I’ve heard, with musicianship and instrumental ability in abundance. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) The Piano Sonatas - Daniel-Ben Pienaar (piano) rec. 2008/9 AVIE AV2209 [5 CDs: 288:17] [DC] Hesitate not - this really is new Mozart.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) The Six Symphonies - BBC Scottish SO, Lahti SO/Osmo Vänskä rec. 1999-2006 BIS BISCD1839/40 [3 CDs: 241:23] [JQ] A compelling box, offering a Nielsen cycle of uncommon distinction and authority in superb sound.

Vitezlav NOVÁK (1870-1949) Piano Music - Radoslav Kvapil (piano) rec. 2010 ALTO ALC 1113 [76:18] [RB] Miraculously sure-footed and full of insight. Kvapil is a virtuoso of dexterity, mood and narrative.

Giovanni PACINI (1796-1867) Il convitato di pietra - Leonardo Cortellazzi (tenor) Geraldine Chauvet (mezzo) Transylvania State PCh, Cluj Südwestdeutsches CO Pforzheim/Daniele Ferrari rec. 2008 NAXOS OPERA CLASSICS 8.660282-83 [44.55 + 47.28] [RJF] A different take on a well-known story is accompanied by a Pacini’s sure composition and an enjoyable first public performance.

William PERRY (b. 1930) Music for Great Films of the Silent Era - RTÉ Ntl SO/Paul Phillips rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.572567 [78:41] [IL] A glorious, joyous, tuneful celebration of the days of Silent Cinema.

David L. POST (b.1949) String Qts 2-4, Fantasia on a Virtual Choral - Hawthorne String Qt rec. 2002-7 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559661 [59:54] [Byz] Post is a remarkable composer - not only inventive and technically capable, but also a superb communicator.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924) La rondine - Angela Gheorghiu (soprano) Roberto Alagna (tenor) William Matteuzzi (tenor) Inva Mula (soprano) London Voices, London SO/Antonio Pappano rec. 1996 EMI CLASSICS 6407482 [66:16 + 54:19] [GF] You can’t expect to hear/see the opera better done.

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) King Arthur - Véronique Gens (soprano) Sandrine Piau (soprano) Les Arts Florissants/William Christie rec. 1995 ERATO 2564 67743-4 [50:43 + 41:38] [JS] One of the best I have heard.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concertos, Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini - John Lill (piano) BBC National O of Wales/Tadaaki Otaka rec. 1993-1996 NIMBUS NI 1720 [3 CDs: 64:37 + 71:53 + 71:17] [JQ RB] Consistently satisfying performances that reveal Rachmaninov’s music to the listener faithfully and without unnecessary ostentation. [JQ] An evocative synthesis of ursine majesty and razory melancholy. [RB]

David RAKSIN (1912-2004) Laura, Forever Amber & The Bad and the Beautiful Suites - New PO/David Raksin rec. 1975 SONY RCA RED SEAL 88967 812682 [46:58] [IL] Glorious film music. Not to be missed. 

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Music for Two Pianos - Stephen Coombs, Christopher Scott (pianos) rec. 1990 REGIS RRC1356 [56:07] [DM] A terrific disc – and a bargain to boot. Buy it.

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Violin Concerto, Suite, Aria, Rossiniana - Laura Marzadori (violin) Respighi CO New York/Salvatore Di Vittorio rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.572332 [77:32] [IL] A notable release for Respighi enthusiasts.

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Scheherazade, Tale of Tsar Saltan, Flight of the Bumblebee - Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.572693 [66:37] [BR] I put the disc on expecting ‘decent.’ But it’s not decent: it’s spectacular!

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Scheherazade, Tale of Tsar Saltan, Flight of the Bumblebee - Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.572693 [66:36] [OL] The best Sheherazade I’ve heard.

Nikolay RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Capriccio espagnol, Overtures - Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz rec. 2010-11 NAXOS 8.572788 [67:05] [RMay] What I want to know now about Schwarz and his musicians is what exactly are they on?

George ROCHBERG (1918-2005) Piano Music Vol. 3: Partita-Variations, Nach Bach, Sonata-Fantasia - Sally Pinkas (pno) rec. 1996-7 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559633 [67:26] [DM] Deeply satisfying.

Miklos ROZSA (1907-1995) Ben Hur, Quo Vadis, Julius Caesar - National PO & Ch, Royal PO & Ch/Miklos Rozsa, Bernard Herrmann rec. 1974-77 DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 3790 [47:10 + 52:47] [RB] Magnificent performances and recordings.

John RUTTER (b.1945) The Original Carols from Clare - Clare College Singers & O/John Rutter rec. 1966/8 EMI CLASSICS 9469472 [43:48 + 44:26] [BBr] These disks are a joy.

Pablo SARASATE (1844-1908) Works for violin & orchestra Vol. 3 - Tianwa Yang (violin) Navarra SO/Ernest Martínez Izquierdo rec. 2009, NAXOS 8.572275 [58:45] [BR] Tianwa Yang’s best Sarasate yet, which is really saying something. Absolutely fantastic.

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) Complete Keyboard Sonatas Vol. 1 - Carlo Grante (piano) rec. 2009 MUSIC & ARTS CD1236 [6 CDs: 392:15] [JW] Profoundly impressive. 

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) String Quartets 4, 11 & 14 - Hagen Qt rec. 1993/4 NEWTON CLASSICS 8802056 [70:48] [WH] Magnificent performances from the nineties of three challenging Shostakovich Quartets.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphonies 6 & 7, Finlandia - New Zealand SO/Pietari Inkinen rec. 2009-10 NAXOS 8.572705 [59:28] [BR] I’ve been critical of Inkinen’s Sibelius symphonies so far, but this Sixth is distinguished and his Seventh is absolutely mandatory.

Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871-1927) Symphonies, piano concertos & other orchestral works - Gothenburg SO/Neeme Järvi, Malmö SO/Paavo Järvi rec. 1982-92 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94238 [3 CDs: 230:38] [RB] The accustomed romantic idiom inflamed with Swedish folk voices - a sensational bargain.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Ein Heldenleben - Chicago SO/Daniel Barenboim rec. 1990 WARNER APEX 2564 67716-3 [62:39] [BW] A Heldenleben to rival the best – and Till is not far behind.

Richard STRAUSS (1864 – 1949) Complete works for wind ensemble: Sonatina 1, Aus der Werkstadtt einer Invaliden; Suite; Serenade; Symphony, Fröhliches Werkstatt - Academy Symphonic Wind/Keith Bragg rec. 2003-2006 ROYAL ACADEMY OF MUSIC RAM034 [53:21 + 43:21] [BBr] This is an exciting issue and should not be missed at any cost.

Sir ARTHUR SULLIVAN (1842-1900) Overtures and Choruses - Royal PO, New SO London/Royston Nash, James Walker, Isidore Godfrey rec. 1959-82 DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 1285 [69.09 + 77.52] [GH] This is a marvellous and well-presented double disc compilation.

Giles SWAYNE (b. 1946) Magnificat I; The silent land; Ave verum corpus; Stabat mater - Raphael Wallfisch (cello) Dimitri Ens/Graham Ross rec. 1982/2010 NAXOS 8.572595 [68.18] [RH] This is contemporary choral music at its best, and it is available at super-budget price.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies 2 & 3 - Large SO Ministry of Culture, Russian Federation/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky rec. 1988-89 ALTO ALC 1103 [78:03] [RB] Powerhouse performances and recordings to win converts to these wallflowers. Not to be missed.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Queen of Spades - Misha Didyk (tenor) Ludovic Tézier (baritone) Ewa Podleś (alto) Ch & O Gran Teatre del Liceu/Michael Boder rec. 2010 OPUS ARTE OA1050D DVD [2 DVDs: 180:00] [ST] Tells the story so compellingly with singing and playing being excellent from everyone.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767) Early Concertos and Sonatas - Ens Cordia/Stefano Veggetti (cello) rec. 2009 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94208 [61:17] [JV] This is simply an outstanding disc.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767) Tafelmusik - Musica Antiqua Köln/Reinhard Goebel rec. 1988 ARCHIV 477 8714 [4 CDs: 253:25] [JV] One of the best Telemann recordings of all time.

Joaquin TURINA (1882–1949) Songs - Carolina Ullrich (soprano) Débora Halász (piano) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.570707 [71:29] [GF] A whispered breeze directly from the Virgin Mary’s lips.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) On Wenlock Edge Peter Warlock (1894-1930) The Curlew - James Griffett (tenor) Haffner String Qt rec. 1973 REGIS RRC 1316 [64:47] [RB] Classic and very individual recordings of English song. Do not be put off by their nearly forty year old analogue origins.

Tomás Luis de VICTORIA (1548-1611) The Victoria Collection: Tenebrae Responses, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Requiem, Taedet animam meam, Versa est in luctum - The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips GIMELL GIMBX304 [3 CDs: 177:00] [JQ] A self-recommending collection of excellent recordings of music by one of the great masters of polyphony.

Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959) Complete Guitar Music - Frédéric Zigante (guitar) rec. 2009/10 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9196 [50.41 + 54.01] [GH] An excellent and inexpensive collection.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678–1741) Ottone in Villa - Maria Laura Martorana (soprano) Tuva Semmingsen (mezzo) L’Arte dell’Arco/Federico Guglielmo rec. 2008 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94105 [72.08 + 67.51 + CD-ROM] [MM-B] Truly excellent.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Vivaldi Edition rec. 1975-2009 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94056 [40 CDs] [BW] A genuine bargain for beginners and experienced Vivaldians alike.

William WALTON (1902-1983) Violin Concerto Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Havanaise Christian SINDING (1856-1941) Suite im alten Stil Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968) Violin Concerto 2 - Jascha Heifetz (violin) Philharmonia O/William Walton, RCA Victor SO/William Steinberg, Los Angeles PO/Alfred Wallenstein rec. 1950-4 NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.111367 [77:25] [BW] One of the greatest historical bargains that I’ve heard for a long time.

Martha Argerich - Solo and two-piano recordings rec. 1965-2009 EMI CLASSICS 0940442 [6 CDs: approx 420:00] [SA] I cannot imagine any composer from Mozart to Guastavino taking issue with her over interpretations. This is a set any piano music lover will treasure forever and no one will want to be without it once they have it.

The British Symphonic Collection various orchestras/Douglas Bostock rec. 1998-2005 MEMBRAN 233316 [10 CDs: ca 12 hrs] [RB] An adventurous conspectus that is nothing if not enterprising and the price is right - in fact irresistible even for timid risk-takers.

Plácido Domingo - My Greatest Roles - Vol. 4: Verismo Opera WARNER CLASSICS DVD 52498 493524 [4 DVDs: 112+112+78+35] At the bargain price offered, the quality singing in this collection shows up more recent performances offered at full price. Grab a copy while you can.

Echoes Classic Works Transformed - Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz rec. 2006 NAXOS 8.559679 [53:35] [BR] If there is a thesis to this album, it is that today’s composers are never too far from their predecessors, and something great can come of the marriage of old and new.

Espana Antigua Spanish Secular Music 1200-1700 - Montserrat Figueras (soprano) Hespčrion XX/Jordi Savall VIRGIN CLASSICS 6488012 [8 CDs: 418:54] [GH] Five hundred years of music, wonderfully played and recorded - a real bible of early Spanish musical art which at the bargain price offered is well worth its weight in gold.

The Floating City Sonatas, canzonas and dances by Cestello & Pichi - His Majesty’s Sagbutts & Cornetts rec. 1997 HYPERION HELIOS CDH55320 [GH] A very fine recording. Not only is the music fascinating but the performances are special. Buy it.

Mirella Freni Great Singers Live - Arias by Cilea, Puccini, Bizet, Massenet, Verdi, Mozart & Tchaikovsky - Munich RSO/Kurt Eichhorn,Vladimir Ghiaurov rec. 1971-87 BR KLASSIK 900303 [59:42] [MC] I just couldn’t stop playing this disc which is not surprising given that Freni has one of the finest soprano voices I have ever heard.

Giulini in America Works by Britten, Dvorák, Mahler, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev & Schubert - Chicago SO/Carlo Maria Giulini rec. 1976-78 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 9628 [5 CDs: 367:45] [DC] Classic recordings in a bargain package – what’s not to like?

Great Pianists - Vol. 2 Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto 23 Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Don Giovanni Fantasy Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Burleske - Alexander Brailowsky, Shura Cherkassky, Rudolf Serkin (piano) Boston SO/Serge Koussevitsky, P-SO New York/Dimitri Mitropoulos rec. 1945-58 GUILD GHCD2367 [77:18] [SA] A disc to marvel at.

Heinz Holliger Edition Full contents listed at end of review rec. 1966-1991 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94054 [10 CDs: 537:32] [JS] An unmissable bargain.

Popular Trumpet Concertos Maurice Murphy (trumpet) Consort of London/Robert Haydon Clark REGIS RRC 1325 [55:16] [BBr] This is without peer.

Rare French works for violin and orchestra Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Violin Concerto Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Morceau de concert Édouard LALO (1823-1892) Fantaisie norvégienne Ernest GUIRAUD (1837-1892) Caprice Joseph CANTELOUBE (1879-1957) Počme - Philippe Graffin (violin) Ulster O/Thierry Fischer rec. 2001 HYPERION HELIOS CDH55396 [71:13] [NB] Peerless technique allied to superb unmannered musicianship … much to be praised.

Elisabeth Schumann Silver Thread of Song rec. 1926 – 1949 EMI CLASSICS ICON 9184802 [6 CDs: 442:01] [GF] Each track on this well-filled box has something to recommend it. A bargain not to be missed. Should never be out of the catalogues.

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf Sings Operetta - Philharmonia O/Otto Ackermann, Herbert von Karajan rec. 1950s ALTO ALC 1122 [72:27] [GF] I kept listening through the whole recital and ended up playing it once again from beginning to end. Absolutely marvellous!

The Spirits of England and France - Vol. 5 Missa Veterem hominem - Gothic Voices/Christopher Page rec. 1996 HYPERION HELIOS CDH55285 [65.23] [GH] My original impression was not especially favourable but I have become quite excited about the Mass and about the singing - it’s a revelation.

Joan Sutherland - The Legendary Debut Recital Arias by Donizetti, Verdi & Handel - Paris Conservatoire O/Nello Santi, Philomusica of London/Sir Anthony Lewis rec. 1959 REGIS RRC1364 [63:09] [JS] An immense success, the first of many, and it remains an astonishing achievement.

Trumpet Concertos Works by Telemann, Molter, Torelli, M Haydn, L Mozart, Biber etc - Otto Sauter (trumpet) Capella Istropolitana, Kurpfälzisches CO Mannheim, European Chamber Soloists/Nicol Matt rec. 2004-6 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94094 [10 CDs: 538:22] [Byz] Many good things: music by composers generally badly served by other labels, the standard of musicianship high and sound quality generally excellent.

Tudor Anthems and Motets Choir of Clare College, Cambridge/Timothy Brown rec. 1991/93 HERITAGE HTGCD 216 [67:32] [JQ] A most desirable disc that provides an excellent introduction to the treasure chest of Tudor sacred music. 

Voices from Heaven Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986) Requiem, Quatre Motets Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis, Requiem - Ch St John’s College, Cambridge/Christopher Robinson, George Guest REGIS RRC1341 [78:54] [JQ] Beautifully crafted, inspired music in immaculate performances.


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