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MusicWeb Recommends 2012


Recordings of the Month

Robert ALDRIDGE (b. 1954) Elmer Gantry - Soloists, Milwaukee SO/William Boggs rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.669032-33 [69:24 + 72:14] [GF] Totally captivating.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Organ Transcriptions - Martin Schmeding (organ) rec. 2011 ARS PRODUKTION ARS 38109 [75:19] [DC] Superb release in every regard. An all-round organ hit release.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II - Peter Hill (piano) rec. 2011 DELPHIAN DCD34101 [78:49 + 79:21] [DC] Bach which will take you out of this world.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The RIAS Bach Cantatas Project - RIAS CO & Ch/Karl Ristenpart rec. 1949-52 AUDITE 21.415 [9 CDs: 631:06] [JQ] One of the most important Bach issues for many years. A major addition to the discography of Bach’s cantatas. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Motets - Monteverdi Ch/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2011 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG 716 [72:27] [JQ] A superb, fresh new recording of the Bach motets.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Mass in B minor - Dorothea Mields, Hana Blažiková, Damien Guillon, Thomas Hobbs, Peter Kooij, Collegium Vocale Ghent/Philippe Herreweghe rec. 2011 PHI LPH004 [50:47 + 50:32] [JQ] A splendid and important addition to the discography of Bach’s life-enhancing masterpiece.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations, 15 Sinfonias - Dmitry Sitkovetsky (violin) Yuri Zhislin (viola) Luigi Piovano (cello) rec. 2010 NIMBUS NI6199 [73:52] [OL] Glorious. Gripping. Irresistible.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Harpsichord Concertos - Retrospect Ensemble/Matthew Halls (harpsichord) rec. 2011 LINN RECORDS CKD410 SACD [64:24] [BW] Intimate performances that complement other recordings and may well be your first choice.

Symphonies by the Bach Sons Bach Concentus/Ewald Demeyere rec. 2011 ACCENT ACC24257 [53:20] [JF] These symphonies excited me, moved me and thoroughly entertained me. 

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Works for Violin & Piano Vol. 1 - James Ehnes (violin) Andrew Armstrong (piano) rec. 2011 CHANDOS CHAN10705 [80:30] [ST] A magnificent disc, wonderful playing captured in fantastic sound.

Giovanni BASSANO (c.1558-1617) Amor Sacro - Amor Profano - Monika Mauch (soprano) Capricornus Ens Stuttgart/Henning Wiegraebe rec. 2010 COVIELLO CLASSICS COV 21108 [71:55] [JV] A disc with fascinating repertoire, brilliantly sung and played. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Complete Symphonies - Royal Flemish Philharmonic/Philippe Herreweghe rec. 2004-09 PENTATONE PTC 5186 312 SACD [5 discs: 5:36.49] [ST] Combines the best of the old with the best of the new amid a wonderful clarity of the sound.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 - 1827) Symphonies 5 & 6 - Basel CO/Giovanni Antonini rec 2008/09 SONY MUSIC 88697648162 [69:33] [MG] Cambreling is good but Antonini has a special rhythmic exultation. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1797-1828) Symphony 9 - Annemarie Kramer (soprano) Wilke te Brummelstroete (alto) Marcel Reijans (tenor) Geert Smits (bass) Consensus Vocalis Netherlands SO/Jan Willem de Vriend rec. 2011 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72533 SACD [63:40] [DC] Remarkably revealing - how did Beethoven do that? 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 9 - Amanda Roocroft (soprano) Fiona Janes (mezzo) John Mark Ainsley (tenor) Neal Davies (bass) The New Company, O of The Age of Enlightenment/Sir Charles Mackerras rec. 1994 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD 254 [63:50] [JQ] An excellent account of the Ninth, which forms an invaluable supplement to Sir Charles’s superb cycle of the symphonies on Hyperion.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) String Quartet Aaron Jay KERNIS (b. 1960) String Quartet - Jasper Qt rec. 2011 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92142 [71:12] [BR] The Jasper Quartet gives off joyous energy like sparks. Don’t miss this album.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 - 1827) Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra - Orchestra of Opera North/Howard Shelley (piano and conductor) rec. 2010/11 CHANDOS CHAN10695(4) [4 CDs: 80:41 + 79:19 + 78:28 + 77:59] [DC] Superlative choice in every regard.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Diabelli Variations - Andreas Staier (fortepiano) rec. 2010 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902091 [67:00] [KM] The Diabelli Variations as they were heard in Beethoven’s time. An infectious recording that bubbles over with joy.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas Vol. 2 - François-Frédéric Guy (piano) rec. 2010/11 ZIG-ZAG TERRITOIRES ZZT304 [3 CDs: 213:13] [BR] I greet this along with Volume 1 with enthusiasm … some of the best, most consistently excellent performances in the century so far.

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) Il Pirata - Carmen Giannattasio, José Bros, Geoffrey Mitchell Ch, London PO/David Parry rec. 2010 OPERA RARA ORC45 [3 CDs: 159:28] [RJF] This dramatic performance takes this version well ahead of the dated competition.

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) I Puritani - Mariola Cantarer, John Osborn, Scott Hendricks, Riccardo Zanellato, Fredrika Brillembourg, De Nederlandse Opera Ch, Netherlands PO/Giuliano Carella rec. 2009 OPUS ARTE OA1091D DVD [173:00 + 10:00 (bonus)] [ST] Two thumbs up for this Puritani.

Arthur BENJAMIN (1893-1960) Violin Concerto, Romantic Fantasy, Elegy, Waltz and Toccata - Lorraine McAslan (violin) Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola) Royal Scottish Ntl O/John Gibbons rec. 2011 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7279 [67:29] [JF] Simply fantastic.

Alban BERG (1885-1935) Lulu - Patricia Petibon, Tanja Ariane Baumgartner, Michael Volle, Vienna PO/Marc Albrecht rec. 2011 EUROARTS/UNITEL CLASSICA 2072564 Blu-ray [173:00] [DBi] A wonderful Lulu. Petibon is its true star in every respect. An outstanding disc. 

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Symphonie fantastique, Béatrice et Bénédict - Scottish CO/Robin Ticciati rec. 2011 LINN CKD 400 SACD [63:12] [DM] Palate-cleansing, ear-pricking performances. Not to be missed.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Symphonie fantastique, Béatrice et Bénédict - Scottish CO/Robin Ticciati rec. 2011 LINN CKD 400 SACD [63:12] [ST] It’s this disc I’ll be coming back to when I want to be reminded of just how ground-breaking it still sounds.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803–1869) Herminie, Les Nuits d’été Maurice RAVEL (1875–1937) Shéhérazade - Véronique Gens (soprano) O Ntl des Pays de la Loire/John Axelrod rec. 2000-10 ONDINE OD 1200-2 [65:55] [GF] Véronique Gens must now be added to the top duo of Crespin and Baker.

Georges BIZET (1838-1875) Carmen - Magdalena Kožená (mezzo) Jonas Kaufmann (tenor) Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2012 EMI CLASSICS 4 40285 2 [71.41+78.08] Get it while it’s hot! [ST] High on hype, this performance does not challenge many competitors.[RF]

Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) Schelomo, From Jewish Life, Voice in the Wilderness Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Kol Nidrei - Natalie Clein (cello) BBC Scottish SO/Ilan Volkov rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67910 [61:30] [HC] Superb readings and recording of Bloch's output for cello and orchestra, a must-have for all his admirers.

Alla BORZOVA (b. 1961) Songs for Lada, To the New World - Valentina Fleer (soprano) Valentina Kozak (folk contralto) Detroit SO/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2010 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559706 [49.50] [PCG] Heavenly music … really like nothing else in the repertory.

Pierre BOULEZ (b. 1925) Mémoriale, Dérive 1 & 2 - Fabrice Jünger (flute) Ens Orchestral Contemporain/Daniel Kawka rec. 2011 NAĎVE MO782183 [63.10] [GH] This is great music but undoubtedly challenging. Important and of lasting value.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Brahms by Arrangement Vol. 1 - Zebra String Trio rec. 2011 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0066 [77:35] This is the kind of disc that makes the most jaded listener sit up straight and pay attention

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) & Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Violin Concertos - Efrem Zimbalist (violin) Boston SO/Serge Koussevitzky; Cleveland O/Rudolf Ringwall rec. 1944/46 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 307 [77:33] [RB] Simply glorious and even astonishing. Not to be missed on any account.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 1 Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Symphony 3 Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony 9 Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphony 5 - Danish Ntl SO/Thomas Dausgaard rec. 2009 UNITEL CLASSICA/C MAJOR 710508 DVD [2 DVDs: 213:52] [DMc] This is special music-making.

Luis de BRICEŃO (fl early 17th C) El Fenix de Paris - Le Počme Harmonique/Vincent Dumestre rec. 2011 ALPHA 182 [71:08] [JV] One of the most original and exciting discs I have heard recently.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Violin Concerto, Double Concerto, Lachrymae - Anthony Marwood (violin), Lawrence Power (viola) BBC Scottish SO/Ilan Volkov rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67801 [64:18] [MG] Distinctive soloists matched by sensitively weighted, varying orchestral presence.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Serenade, Nocturne Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Dies Natalis - Mark Padmore (tenor) Stephen Bell (horn) Britten Sinfonia/Jacqueline Shave rec. 2011 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU 807552 SACD [78:29] [JQ] A release that exudes quality.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) War Requiem - Ian Bostridge, Simon Keenlyside, Sabina Cvilak, Eltham College Ch, London SO & Ch/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2011 LSO LIVE LSO0719 SACD [46:35 + 37:13] [DM] I can’t emphasise more strongly how compelling this newcomer is, and how important that anyone who knows and loves the War Requiem should hear it.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) War Requiem - Erin Wall (soprano) Mark Padmore (tenor) Hanno Müller-Brachmann (bass-baritone) City of Birmingham SO & Ch/Andris Nelsons rec. 2012 ARTHAUS MUSIK 101659 DVD [97:00] [JQ] A distinguished addition to the War Requiem discography. As a performance deeply moving and a major achievement. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) A Ceremony of Carols, Saint Nicholas - Trinity College Cambridge Ch/Stephen Layton rec. 2007/12 HYPERION CDA67946 [73:30] Trinity is outstanding.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 7, The Triumphant Return (documentary) - Berlin PO/Sergiu Celibidache rec. 1992 EUROARTS 2011404 Blu-ray [90:00 + 54:00] [DM] A uniquely satisfying Seventh; a must for all Brucknerians.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 9 - Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2012 EMI CLASSICS 9529692 [82:10] [RMo] Massive solidity … rich sonority … magical.

Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) Eine Lustspielouvertüre, Gesang vom Reigen der Geister, Rondň arlecchinesco, Clarinet Concertino, Flute Divertimento, Tanzwalzer - Giammarco Casani (clarinet) Laura Minguzzi (flute) Gianluca Terranova (tenor) Rome SO/Francesco La Vecchia rec. 2008/11 NAXOS 8.572922 [60:34] [BR] A wonderful raft of discoveries from Busoni’s lighter side. Maybe my favorite album so far in the Naxos Italian Classics series.

Dieterich BUXTEHUDE (1637/1639?-1707) Opera Omnia XV: Chamber Music 3 - Catherine Manson (violin) Paolo Pandolfo (viola da gamba) Mike Fentross (lute) Ton Koopman (harpsichord, organ) rec. 2010/11 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72254 [73:27] [MS] Profoundly pleasing. Another outstanding contribution to the repertoire.

Dieterich BUXTEHUDE (1637/1639 - 1707) Opera Omnia XVI: Vocal Works 6 - Siri Karoline Thornhill, Dorothee Wohlgemuth (soprano) Patrick van Goethem (alto) Jörg Dürmüller (tenor) Klaus Martens (bass) Amsterdam Baroque O/Ton Koopman (organ) rec. 2011 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72255 [55:43] [MS] Another excellent issue in this series. Truly joyful and played with profound gusto and sympathy.

Joseph CANTELOUBE (1879-1957) Songs of the Auvergne - Netania Davrath (soprano) Orchestra/Pierre de la Roche rec. 1963/6 ALTO ALC 1151 [77:24] [RB] One of the crowning glories of the analogue era. Do not miss out on this.

Alfredo CASELLA (1883-1947) Orchestral Works Vol. 2 - Martin Roscoe (piano) BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2011 CHANDOS CHAN10712 [73:26] [IL] The adventurous listener will be very well rewarded by this very imaginative and colourful music.

Bob CHILCOTT (b. 1955) Requiem, Salisbury Motets, Downing Service - Laurie Ashworth (soprano) Andrew Staples (tenor) Jonathan Vaughn (organ) The Nash Ensemble, Wells Cathedral Choir/Matthew Owens rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67650 [79:39] [JQ] An excellent collection of music by Bob Chilcott, including an important new Requiem.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Pieces Yevgeny SUDBIN (b. 1980) Ŕ la minute - Yevgeny Sudbin (piano) rec. 2009-11 BIS SACD 1838 [69:44] [BR] A clear viewpoint on Chopin, intelligently expressed; this may well be a classic.

Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Complete Waltzes & Impromptus - Vladimir Feltsman (piano) rec. 2010 NIMBUS NI 6184 [70:28] [RMo] This goes straight to the top of my list of favourite Chopin CDs.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1801-1849) Piano Music Vol. 2 - Louis Lortie (piano) rec. 2011 CHANDOS CHAN10714 [75:16] [DMcC] Thoughtful, engaging, and gorgeous.

Johannes CICONIA (c.1370-1412) Opera Omnia - Complete Works - La Morra/Corina Martio/Michal Gondko, Diabolus in Musica/Antoine Guerber rec. 2010 RICERCAR RIC 316 [151.34] [GH] I cannot praise these recordings too highly.

Francisco CILEA (1866-1950) Adriana Lecouvreur - Angela Gheorghiu, Jonas Kaufmann, Ch & O Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Mark Elder rec. 2010 DECCA 074 3459 DVD [2 DVDs: 150:00] [ST] Two and a half hours of unalloyed operatic pleasure. 

François COUPERIN (1668-1733) Exultent superi - Motets Choisis - Soloists of the Ch of New College Oxford Collegium Novum/Edward Higginbottom rec. 2011 NOVUM NCR 1384 [61:55]  [MC] Quite stunning in all respects!

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Pelléas et Mélisande - John Tomlinson (bass) Sarah Walker (mezzo) Robert Dean (baritone) Ch & O English National Opera/Mark Elder rec. 1981 CHANDOS CHAN 3177(3) [3 CDs: 54:24 + 36:10 + 64:15] [JS] An important and distinguished addition to the Chandos Opera in English series.

Claude DEBUSSY (1906-1975) Complete Orchestral Works - O Ntl de Lyon/Jun Märkl rec. 2007-11 NAXOS 8.509002 [9 CDs: 9:08.49] [PCG] Important for its completeness but it has other claims to our attention as well.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Pour le Piano, Estampes, L’isle joyeuse Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Prelude and Fugue, Sonata - Rafal Blechacz (piano) rec. 2011 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 9548 [62.22] [RBe] An altogether brilliant recital from an outstanding young pianist.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Orchestral Works - Women of the RSNO Ch, Royal Scottish Ntl O/Stéphane Denčve rec. 2011/12 CHANDOS CHSA 5102(2) SACD [78:04 + 68:22] [DC] Sumptuous sonic bathing: thrillingly superb.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Orchestral Works - Women of the RSNO Ch, Royal Scottish Ntl O/Stéphane Denčve rec. 2011/12 CHANDOS CHSA 5102(2) SACD [78:04 + 68:22] [ST] An outstanding release and a praiseworthy contribution to Debussy anniversary year. Invest with confidence.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Songs Vol. 2 - Lorna Anderson (soprano) Lisa Milne (soprano) Malcolm Martineau (piano) rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67883 [66:47] [SA] Thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding in every way.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) La Mer, Prélude ŕ l’aprčs-midi d’un faune, Images - France Ntl O/Daniele Gatti rec. 2011 SONY CLASSICAL 88697 974002 [68:42] [DMC] No matter how many versions you have of this repertoire, do add this to your shelves. 

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Orchestral music transcribed for two pianos Vol. 1 - Simon Callaghan & Hiroaki Takenouchi (pianos) rec. 2011. SOMM SOMMCD0112 [68:04] [IL] A splendid recording. 

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Songs of Sunset, Songs, North Country Sketches, A Late Lark - Henriette Bonde-Hansen, Johan Reuter, Aarhus Cathedral Ch, Aarhus SO & Ch/Bo Holten rec. 2011 DANACORD DACOCD721 [74:27] [IL] So many riches flowing from Holten’s commitment to Delius.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) L’Elisir d’Amore - Roberta Peters (soprano) Carlo Bergonzi (tenor) Metropolitan Op Ch & O/Thomas Schippers rec. 1966 SONY CLASSICAL 88691 90991 2 [64:28 + 49:26] [JS] Well worth hearing – a splendid cast caught at their best … captures the spirit of this most delightful of operas.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Anna Bolena - Anna Netrebko, Elina Garanca, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, Francesco Meli, Wiener Staatsoper/Evelino Pidň rec. 2011 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 073 4725 DVD [193:00 + 4:00 bonus] [RJF] No lover of Donizetti’s operas should do without this outstanding performance.

Jonathan DOVE (b. 1959) The Passing of the Year - Convivium Singers/Neil Ferris, Christopher Cromar (piano) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572733 [69:23] [DMcC] Gorgeous and poignant, performed with wholehearted fervor.

Philipp DULICHIUS (1562-1631) Sacred Motets - Weser-Renaissance/Manfred Cordes rec. 2008 CPO 777 352-2 [64:46] [JV] Immaculate and often exciting performances.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Cello Concerto, The Water Goblin, In Nature’s Realm - Zuill Bailey (cello) Indianapolis SO/Jun Märkl rec. 2011 TELARC TEL-32927-02 [75:30] [LW] Bailey’s new account of the Dvořák concerto is among the best in recent years. 

Antonín DVORÁK (1841-1904) Karajan Spectacular - vol. 2 Symphony 9, 5 Slavonic Dances - Berliner Phil/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1958-1959 IDIS 6621 [65:06] [RMo] This is a glorious disc.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) String Quartet 12 Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) String Quartet 1 Josef SUK (1874-1935) Meditation on the Old Czech Hymn Saint Wenceslas - Sacconi Qt rec. 2010 SACCONI RECORDS SACC104 [66:25] [DJB] It really doesn’t get much better than this.

Anton EBERL (1765-1807) Trio, Potpourri en Trio, Grand Sextet - Trio Van Hengel, Alida Schat (violin) Vappu Helasvuo (viola) Bart Aerbeydt (horn) rec. 2009/10 RAMEE RAM1103 [69:15] [Byz] This really is excellent music: as deep as it is broad, brimming with vigour, poetry, harmony and brilliance.

Sir Edward ELGAR The Apostles - Rebecca Evans (soprano) Alice Coote (mezzo) Hallé Ch, Hallé Youth Ch, Hallé O/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2012 HALLÉ CD HLD 7534 [65:08 + 49:21] [JQ] The clear first choice. This superb Apostles is a mandatory purchase for all Elgar enthusiasts.

Sir Edward ELGAR The Apostles - Rebecca Evans (soprano) Alice Coote (mezzo) Hallé Ch, Hallé Youth Ch, Hallé O/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2012 HALLÉ CD HLD 7534 [65:08 + 49:21] [MC] Performed beautifully. Everyone is on quite spectacular form.

George ENESCU (1881-1955) Chamber Music 1895-1906 - Claudia Bara (piano) Tatiana Samouil (violin) Gérard Caussé (viola) Vincent Lucas (flute) Justus Grimm (cello) Frédéric Mellardi (trumpet) Carmen-Elena Rotaru (piano) rec. 2011 INDESENS INDE036 [76:02] [Byz] A five-star CD that should appeal to anyone with ears and a heart.

Elisenda FÁBREGAS (b. 1955) Voices of the Rainforest Kate WARING (b. 1953) Alapana Libby LARSEN (b. 1950) Slow Structures Chen YI (b. 1953) Night Thoughts - Meininger Trio rec. 2010 HÄNSSLER PROFIL PH11039 [56:39] [DM] Utterly absorbing; this music will give lasting pleasure.

Sebastian FAGERLUND (b.1972) Clarinet Concerto, Partita, Isola - Christoffer Sundqvist (clarinet) Gothenburg SO/Dima Slobodeniouk rec. 2008 BIS BIS-SACD-1707 [58:36] [OL] Real 21st century music: standing on the shoulders of those who came before yet reaching higher than ever.

Johann Jacob FROBERGER (1616-1667) Suites & Toccatas - Alina Rotaru (harpsichord) CARPE DIEM CD-16290 [63:54] [JV] This disc has to be ranked among the best recordings of Froberger's music.

Hans GÁL (1890-1987) Serenade, Trio Hans KRÁSA (1899-1944) Tanec, Passacaglia & fuga - Ens Epomeo rec. 2011 AVIE RECORDS AV2259 [67:08] [SA] In every way this is a fantastic disc that listeners will want to hear again and again.

Philippe GAUBERT (1879-1941) Au pays basque, Violin Concerto, Počme Romanesque for cello and orchestra, Le Cortčge d’Amphitrite - Philippe Graffin (violin) Henri Demarquette (cello) Orch Phil du Luxembourg/Marc Soustrot rec. 2010 TIMPANI 1C1186 [66:33] [RB] Indispensable listening for adherents of the melodic-romantic nationalism.

Carlo GESUALDO (1566-1613) Madrigals Book 4 - Delitić Musicć/Marco Longhini rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572137 [68:57] [MS] Stylish, convincing, profound and lovely performances. Buy it! 

Carlo GESUALDO (1566-1613) Madrigals Book 4 - Delitić Musicć/Marco Longhini rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572137 [68:57] [DMcC] Wonderfully cogent and affecting. 

Christopher GIBBONS (1615-1676) Motets, Anthems, Fantasias & Voluntaries - Philippa Hyde (soprano) Jacqueline Connell (mezzo) Ch & Academy of Ancient Music/Richard Egarr (organ) rec. 2010 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807551 SACD [62:27] [BW] The music of a major discovery in near-ideal performances.

Orlando GIBBONS (1583 - 1625) Hymns and Songs John SHEPPARD (1515 - 1585) Missa Cantate, Spiritus Sanctus Thomas TALLIS (1505 - 1585) Missa puer natus est nobis Robert WHITE (1538 - 1574) Lamentations of Jeremiah - The Clerkes of Oxenford/David Wulstan rec. 1975/77 PHAIA MUSIC PHU005.7 [3 CDs: 175.43] [RH] Astonishing …. Amazing.

Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936) Complete Symphonies & Concertos - Rachel Barton-Pine (violin) Alexander Romanovsky (piano) Wen-Sinn Yang (cello) Marc Chisson (saxophone) Alexey Serov (horn) Russian Ntl O/Jose Serebrier rec. 2004-2010 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 66467 4 [8 CDs: c. 520:00] [RB] This set goes straight to the top of the recommended versions of the symphonies and concertos.

Aleksandr GLAZUNOV (1865-1936) Raymonda - Olesia Novikova, Friedemann Vogel, Mick Zeni, Ballet & O Teatro alla Scala/Michail Jurowski rec. 2011 ARTHAUS 101630 DVD [154:00] [I&GL] A lavish production; a feast for the eye; with awesome dancing from the principals.

Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936) String Quintet Anton ARENSKY (1861-1906) String Quartet 2 Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887) String Sextet Nash Ensemble rec. 2011 ONYX CLASSICS 4067 [65:37] [BR] The Glazunov and Arensky works are underappreciated gems. Great playing, great program, mandatory purchase. 

Henryk GÓRECKI (1933-2010) Totus Tuus: Choral Music - Natl Youth Ch of GB/Mike Brewer rec. 2010-11 DELPHIAN DCD34054 [61:47] [JQ] Another formidable achievement by the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and Mike Brewer.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) String Quartet 1, Two Elegiac Melodies, Holberg Suite - Australian CO/Richard Tognetti rec. 2010 BIS BISSACD1877 SACD [63:30] [DC] A disc to covet.

André Modeste GRÉTRY (1741-1813) Zémire et Azor - Hugette Boulangeot (soprano) Michel Sénéchal (tenor) Bournemouth SO/Sir Thomas Beecham rec. 1955 SOMM BEECHAM 30-2 [47:41 + 66:43] [JS] A delightful experience. I would be surprised if this set does not give considerable pleasure.

Sofia GUBAIDULINA (b. 1931) In tempus praesens, Glorious Percussion - Vadim Gluzman (violin) Glorious Percussion, Lucerne SO/Jonathan Nott rec. 2008/11 BIS-CD-1752 [71:29] [LW] A real winner of a CD.

Sofia GUBAIDULINA (b. 1931) The Lyre of Orpheus, The Canticle of the Sun - Gidon Kremer (violin) Marta Sudraba (cello) Kremerata Baltica, Nicolas Altstaedt (cello) Andrei Pushkarev, Rihards Zalupe (percussion) Rostislav Krimer (celesta) Riga Chamber Ch/Măris Sirmais rec. 2006-10 ECM NEW SERIES 2256 [69.07] [GH] No praise can be too high.

Naji HAKIM (b. 1955) Bach'orama, Jonquilles, Mit seinem Geist, Theotokos, Salve Regina, Gershwinesca - Naji Hakim (organ) rec. 2011 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD 284 [69:02] [DM] A walk on the wild side; an absolute must for adventure lovers.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Concerti grossi - Concerto Copenhagen/Lars Ulrik Mortensen rec. 2009 CPO 777 488- 2 [58:35] [MG] Minkowski offers virtuosity and excitement, but Mortensen gives us state of the art.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Acis and Galatea - Jeni Bern (soprano) Benjamin Hulett (tenor) Christ Church Cathedral Ch, Oxford Philomusica/Stephen Darlington rec. 2012 English text included NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6201 [75:36] [JS] Supplements rather than replaces the original but a delightful work in its own right. One of the most enjoyable recordings I have heard for a long time.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Xerxes - Ann Murray, Christopher Robson, Christopher Booth-Jones, Valerie Masterson, Lesley Garrett, English Ntl Opera O & Ch/Sir Charles Mackerras rec. 1988 ARTHAUS MUSIK 100 077 DVD [186:00] [RF] A classic interpretation of this too rarely heard Baroque masterpiece.

Howard HANSON (1896-1981) Symphony 1, The Lament for Beowulf - Seattle SO/Chorale/Gerard Schwarz rec. 1988-1990 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559700 [48:34] [DM] Scandalously neglected music, persuasively played.

Howard HANSON (1896-1981) Symphonies 4 & 5, Elegy in Memory of Serge Koussevitzky, Dies Natalis - Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz rec. 1990/92 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559703 [69:45] [DM] Works of strength and subtlety, supremely well played.

Howard HANSON (1896-1981) Symphonies 6 & 7, Lumen in Christo - Seattle Chorale, Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz rec. 1989-94 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559704 [60:19] [DM] Works of distinction and delight, winningly played.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Great Haydn Symphonies - Austro-Hungarian Haydn O/Adam Fischer rec. 1988-95 NIMBUS NI7041/2 [75:57 + 76:43] [BW] A strong contender as an introduction to some wonderful music.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Piano Sonatas Vol. 3 - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) rec. 2011 CHANDOS CHAN 10689 [75:22] [MG] You may not agree with everything he does, but you know you’re in the presence of great playing.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) The Creation - Amanda Forsythe (soprano) Keith Jameson (tenor) Kevin Deas (bass-baritone) Boston Baroque/Martin Pearlman rec. 2011 LINN CKD401 SACD [69:22 + 27:21] [ST] Another feather in the cap of Pearlman and Boston Baroque.

Bernard HERRMANN (1911-1975) The Battle of Neretva, The Naked and the Dead - Moscow SO/William T. Stromberg rec. 2010 TRIBUTE FILM CLASSICS TFC1007 [77:16] [RB] Classic Herrmann. Rejoice collectors everywhere. This is a recording project done to an enviable standard.

Gary HIGGINSON (b. 1952) Songs of Innocence and of Experience - Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano) Danielle Perrett (harp) Chapel Ch of Selwyn College Cambridge, Ely Cathedral Girls' Ch/Sarah MacDonald rec. 2011 REGENT REGCD381 [76:49] [DJ] A magnificent introduction to an unjustly overlooked contemporary composer. 

Christian Frederik Emil HORNEMAN (1840-1906) Ouverture Héroique, Suites: Gurre, Kalanus & ‘The Contest with the Muses’ - Danish Ntl SO/Johannes Gustavsson rec. 2010-11 DACAPO 6.220564 SACD [66:07] [DC] A wealth of discovery, and with performances to match.

Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) Choral Works - Ch of Trinity College, Cambridge/Stephen Layton, Simon Bland & Jeremy Cole (organ) rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67914 [64:09] [JQ] A most distinguished release of glorious music by Herbert Howells, superbly performed.

Gabriel JACKSON (b. 1962) Sacred Choral Works Vol. II: Beyond the Stars - Ch of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh/Duncan Ferguson, Nicholas Wearne (organ) rec. 2011 DELPHIAN DCD34106 [68:38] [JQ] A splendid disc that further enhances the reputation of Gabriel Jackson.

Gabriel JACKSON (b. 1962) Sacred Choral Works Vol. II: Beyond the Stars - Ch of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh/Duncan Ferguson, Nicholas Wearne (organ) rec. 2011 DELPHIAN DCD 34106 [68:38] [DMcC] Gabriel Jackson surely has no finer advocates.

Gabriel JACKSON (b. 1962) Requiem, In all his works, I am the voice of the wind John TAVENER (b. 1944) Song for Athene Francis POTT (b. 1957) When David heard - Vasari Singers/Jeremy Backhouse rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573049 [70:06] [JQ] Should be investigated by all those who are interested in contemporary choral music.

Leos JANÁCEK (1854-1928) Taras Bulba, Lachian Dances, Moravian Dances - Warsaw PO/Antoni Wit rec. 2010-11 NAXOS 8.572695 [54:27] [BR] This is the best Taras Bulba I’ve heard, full of original gestures and sumptuously played.

Wojciech KILAR (b. 1932) Choral Musik - Katowice City Singers’ Ens, Camerata Silesia, AUKSO CO of Tychy/Anna Szostak rec. 2011 DUX 0856 [55:40] [GF] This may radically change your opinions – even your lives!

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Die stumme Serenade - Sarah Wegener, Birge Radde, Frank Buchwald, Young Opera Company, Holst-Sinfonietta/Klaus Simon rec. 2009 CPO 777 485-2 [63:24 + 55:09] [IL] Just the thing for unrepentant romantics.

Orlande de LASSUS (1532-1594) Missa ad imitationem Vinum Bonum - Ex Cathedra, His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts/Jeffrey Skidmore rec. 1995 ALTO ALC1177 [68:37] [MS] Sublime music by Lassus superbly performed.

William LAWES (1602-1645) The Royall Consorts - Les Voix Humaines rec. 2002/6 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD22373 [63:44 + 65:48] [MS] Lawes’ most beautiful, varied and profound chamber music played with great style.

William LAWES (1602-1645) Consorts to the Organ - Phantasm rec. 2011 LINN CKD399 SACD [77:44] [DC] A world of musical naughtiness - Fifty Shades of modal mayhem.

György LIGETI (1923-2006) Le Grand Macabre - Chris Merritt, Inés Moraleda, Ana Puche, Gran Teatre del Liceu SO & Ch/Michael Boder rec. 2011 ARTHAUS MUSIK 108 058 Blu-ray [122:00 + 42:00] [LW] An important addition to the Ligeti discography and a first on video.

Fernando LOPES-GRAÇA (1908-1993) Suite Rústica 1, December Poem, Festival March, Symphony - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Álvaro Cassuto rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572892 [66:30] [HC] A superb selection of some of Lopes-Graça's finest works.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 1, Symphony 5 Adagietto Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche - Boston SO/Erich Leinsdorf rec. 1962/3 ICA CLASSICS ICAD5051 DVD [78:00] [CH] An astonishingly complete, all-embracing vision of Mahler 1, a brilliant rapscallion of a Till and a gorgeous Adagietto.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 2 - Sarah Connolly (mezzo) Christiane Oelze (soprano) MDR Rundfunkchor, Berliner Rundfunkchor, Gewandhauschor, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Riccardo Chailly rec. 2011 ACCENTUS ACC 10238 Blu-ray [95:42] [DM] Thoroughly satisfying.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 2 - Charlotte Margiono (soprano) Jard van Nes (alto) Ch & O Staatskapelle Dresden/Bernard Haitink rec. 1995 PROFIL EDITION PH07040 [33:16 + 53:11] [MC] In my experience nothing beats this remarkable Haitink account.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 3 - Michaela Schuster (alto) Kölner Dom & Oper Ch, Gürzenich O Köln/Markus Stenz rec. 2010 OEHMS CLASSICS OC648 SACD [33:25 + 60:38] [JQ] This new Mahler Third deserves to be ranked with the best.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 8 - Los Angeles Philharmonic, Simón Bolivar SO of Venezuela/Gustavo Dudamel rec. 2012 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 073 4890 Blu-ray [90:00 + 18:00] [DM] Taut, superbly controlled Mahler, performed with great conviction and presented in top-notch sound and pictures.

Giuseppe MARTUCCI (1856-1909) Piano Concerto 1, La canzone dei ricordi - Gesualdo Coggi (piano) Silvia Pasini (mezzo) Roma SO/Francesco La Vecchia rec.2007/8 NAXOS 8.570931 [67:53] [CH] On this showing La Vecchia was born to conduct Martucci. A masterly, even great, vocal performance from Silvia Pasini.

Johann Simon MAYR (1763-1845) Samuele - Andrea Lauren Brown, Susanne Bernhard (soprano) Rainer Trost (tenor) Jens Hamann (bass) Simon Mayr Ch/Ingolstadt Georgian CO/Franz Hauk rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572721-22 [34:28 + 60:02] [RJW] Lively, engaging and holds the listener’s attention.

Johann Simon MAYR (1763-1845) Concerto Bergamasco, Keyboard Concerto, Trio Concertante - Natalie Schwaabe (flute and piccolo) Andrea Steinberg (clarinet and basset horn) Bavarian Classical Players/Franz Hauk rec. 2007 NAXOS 8.570927 [53:36] [DM] Music of lilt and loveliness, winningly played; a joyful discovery.

Domenico MAZZOCCHI (1592-1665) La Catena d'Adone, Favola boschereccia - Scherzi Musicali/Nicolas Achten rec. 2010 ALPHA 184 [57:56 + 74:13] [JV] If you like 17th-century operas, don't miss this one. A jewel. 

Erkki MELARTIN (1875-1937) The Solo Piano Works - Maria Lettberg (piano) rec. 2008 CRYSTAL CLASSICS N67048 [69:05 + 66:49] [RB] Quite glorious.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Complete Works for Cello & Piano - Luca Fiorentini (cello) Stefania Redaelli (piano) rec. 2012 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94368 [71:47] [SA] A sumptuous feast of a disc that I can’t imagine could be bettered.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Psalms Cyrillus KREEK (1889-1962) Psalms, Five Sacred Folk Songs - Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Ch/Daniel Reuss rec. 2009 ONDINE ODE1201-2 [64:18] [WH] Gorgeous music, ravishing singing. An exceptional disc. Not to be missed.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Elijah - Rosemary Joshua (soprano) Sarah Connolly (mezzo) Gabrieli Cons, Wroclaw Philh Ch, Gabrieli Young Singers Scheme, Gabrieli Players/Paul McCreesh rec. 2011/12 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD300 [68:30 + 67:28] [JQ] A marvellous recording of Elijah.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Elijah - Rosemary Joshua (soprano) Sarah Connolly (mezzo) Gabrieli Cons, Wroclaw Philh Ch, Gabrieli Young Singers Scheme, Gabrieli Players/Paul McCreesh rec. 2011/12 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD300 [68:30 + 67:28] [ST] Worth every bit as much praise as McCreesh’s Berlioz. 

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Turangalîla-Symphonie - Steven Osborne (piano) Cynthia Millar (ondes martenot) Bergen PO/Juanjo Mena rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67816 [77:07] [JQ] A splendid representation of Messiaen’s ambitious, tumultuous, superb score.

E.J. MOERAN (1894-1950) Sketches for Symphony 2, Overture for a Festival John IRELAND (1879-1962) Sarnia - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Martin Yates rec. 2011 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7281 [59:14] [RB] Sensational … radiance, colour and drive.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Missa In illo tempore - Odhecaton/Paolo Da Col rec. 2011 RICERCAR RIC322 [64:35] [JV] I strongly urge you to purchase this disc.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) L’Incoronazione di Poppea - Philippe Jaroussky, Danielle de Niese, Anna Bonitatibus, Les Arts Florissants/William Christie rec. 2010 VIRGIN CLASSICS 0709519 DVD [2 DVDs: 180:00] [BW] A life-enhancing experience which dramatically changed my view of this opera.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Complete Symphonies - Mozart Akademie Amsterdam/Jaap ter Linden rec. 2001/02 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94295 [11 CDs: 12hrs] [BW] A superb bargain for all lovers of Mozart, not just for period-instrument devotees.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Works for solo piano - Michail Lifits (piano) rec. 2011 DECCA 476 4857 [79.00] [JB] No lover of Mozart’s piano music will want to be without this extraordinary Decca debut CD of Michail Lifits.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Apollo et Hyacinthus - Sophie Bevan (soprano) Lawrence Zazzo (counter-tenor) O of Classical Opera/Ian Page rec. 2011 LINN CKD398 [76:38] [JS] I cannot imagine a better start to Linn’s intended series of recordings of Mozart’s operas by Classical Opera.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Die Zauberflöte - Ileana Cotrubas, Peter Schreier, Christian Boesch, Martti Talvela, Edita Gruberova, Vienna PO/James Levine rec. 1982 ARTHAUS MUSIK 107199 DVD [2 DVDs: 189:00] [RJF] A top recommendation. They do not do productions like this any more I regret to say.

NEIDHART (c.1185-c.1240) A Minnesinger and his 'Vale of Tears' : Songs & Interludes - Ens Leones rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.572449 [64:39] [Byz] Peerless musicianship.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Symphonies 2 & 3 - Erin Morley (soprano) Joshua Hopkins (baritone) New York Philharmonic/Alan Gilbert rec. 2011/12 DACAPO 6.220623 SACD [72:23] [JL] Performances and the sound of a lifetime.

Seppo POHJOLA (b. 1965) Symphonies 1 & 2 - Finnish RSO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2010/11 ALBA ABCD339 SACD [60:49] [DM] Cracking pieces, superbly played; a demonstration disc too.

Amilcare PONCHIELLI (1834-1886) La Gioconda - Deborah Voigt (soprano) Richard Margison (tenor) Ch & O/Corps de Ballet of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona/Daniele Callegari rec. 2005 ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD 107291 [2 DVDs: 174:00] [RJF] Rarely performed nowadays, Ponchielli’s best known opera is unlikely to get a better-staged, sung and danced performance than it does here.

Francis POTT (b. 1957) In The Heart Of Things - Grace Davidson (soprano) Commotio/Matthew Berry rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572739 [66.58] [PCG] A most beautiful disc of some absolutely beautiful music.

Francis POULENC (1899 – 1963) Hommage - Felicity Lott (soprano) Graham Johnson (piano) rec. 1994 FORLANE FOR16730 [64:26] [GF] It is hard to imagine more beautiful singing. Well-nigh criminal not to buy this disc.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) The Year 1941, Symphony 5 - Săo Paulo SO/Marin Alsop rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573029 [59:48] [JQ] An auspicious launch of Marin Alsop’s Prokofiev symphony cycle in Săo Paulo.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Tosca - Fiorenza Cedolins (soprano) Marcelo Alvarez (tenor) Ruggero Raimondi (bass-baritone) Ch & O Arena di Verona/Daniel Oren rec. 2006 ARTHAUS MUSIC 108 031 Blu-ray [119:00] [RJF] One of the best produced and sung video versions of this ever-popular Puccini melodrama.

Serge RACHMANINOFF (1873-1973) Moments musicaux, Études-tableaux, Variations on a theme of Corelli - Xiayin Wang (piano) rec. 2011/12 CHANDOS CHAN 10724 [69:18] [NB] A disc of exceptional quality.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) The Bells Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Alexander Nevsky - Elena Prokina (soprano) Daniil Shtoda (tenor) Sergei Leiferkus (baritone) Alfreda Hodgson (mezzo) BBC SO & Ch, Philharmonia Ch & O/Evgeny Svetlanov rec. 1988/2002 ICA CLASSICS ICAC5069 [78:30] [JQ] This is a phenomenal disc! It shows Evgeny Svetlanov at his incandescent, inspirational best.

Einojuhani RAUTAVAARA (b. 1928) Cello Concerto 2, Percussion Concerto, Modificata - Truls Mřrk (cello) Colin Currie (percussion) Helsinki PO/John Storgĺrds rec. 2011 ONDINE ODE 1178-2 [62:16] [DM] Bravo, bravo and thrice bravo; my disc of the year.

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Marie Victoire - Takesha Meshé Kizart (soprano) Markus Brück (baritone) Ch & O Deutschen Oper Berlin/Michail Jurowski rec. 2009 CPO 777 121-2 [3 CDs: 164:45] [NB] A major release of great value and interest.

Anthony RITCHIE (b.1960) A Bugle Will Do, Symphony 3, French Overture, Revelations - New Zealand SO/Tecwyn Evans rec. 2010 ATOLL ACD741 [62:54] [NB] A hugely enjoyable and rewarding disc of a composer well worth exploring further.

Pierre RODE (1774-1830) Violin Concertos 3, 4 & 6 - Friedemann Eichhorn (violin) Jena PO/Nicolás Pasquet rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.570767 [73:56] [Byz] Hugely entertaining and satisfying.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Il Barbiere di Sivilglia - Rolando Panerai (baritone) Teresa Berganza (mezzo) Luigi Alva (tenor) Covent Garden Ch & O/Carlo Maria Giulini rec. 1960 ICA ICAC 5046 [66:42 + 62:24] [JS] Pure gold; a performance that takes wing and which captures the listener in its spell whatever its sonic or other limitations.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) L’occasione fa il ladro - Elizaveta Martirosyan, Fanie Antonelou, Gianpiero Ruggeri, Mauro Utzeri, Württemberg PO/Antonino Fogliani rec. 2005 NAXOS 8.660314-15 [45:22 + 42:11] [JS] An idiomatic and joyous performance of this strangely neglected work.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Il Carnevale - Südfunk-Chor/Rupert Huber, Eric Ericson, Helmut Wolf rec. 1979-92 CARUS 83.324 [65:42] [JS] There have been other discs of Rossini’s shorter vocal works but none that I have heard has given as much pleasure as this one.

Alec ROTH (b. 1948) Earthrise, Hymn to Gaia, Shared Ground, Ponticelli - Philippe Honoré (violin) Ex Cathedra/Jeffrey Skidmore rec. 2011 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD270 [42:30 + 49:00] [JQ] Important and stimulating music - all recorded for the first time - in excellent and committed performances.

Albert ROUSSEL (1869-1937) Le festin de l’araignée & Pâdmavatî suites - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Stéphane Denčve rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.572243 [54:42] [BR] As sad as it is that this Naxos series had to end, the final volume is just as glorious as the first four.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Piano Concerto 2 Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Piano Concerto George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Rhapsody in Blue - Benjamin Grosvenor (piano) Royal Liverpool PO/James Judd rec. 2012 DECCA 478 3527 [65:45] [JQ] A thoroughly entertaining disc. Enjoy!

Pablo SARASATE (1844-1908) Music for Violin & Piano Vol. 3 - Tianwa Yang (violin) Markus Hadulla (piano) rec. 2007/10 NAXOS 8.570893 [78:55] [JWh] An amazing violinist does wonders with Sarasate.

Johann SCHELLE (1648-1701) Sacred Music - The King's Consort/Robert King rec. 2000 HYPERION HELIOS CDH55373 [78:54] [JV] If you didn’t get this recording when first released this is your chance to make up for lost time. Don't miss it.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonatas D.840, 850 & 894, Vier Impromptus, Drei Klavierstücke - Paul Lewis (piano) rec. 2011 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 902115.16 [78:40 + 78:33] [JQ] A distinguished release which confirms the credentials of Paul Lewis as one of the leading pianists of his generation.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Trios, Arpeggione Sonata - Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio rec. 2010 BRIDGE 9376A/B [64:15 + 74:07] [JS] Likely to give real and lasting musical pleasure.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Bei dir allein! - Camilla Tilling (soprano) Paul Rivinius (piano) rec. 2010 BIS-SACD-1844 SACD [61:40] [GF] A superb Schubert recital in every respect.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphonies 1-3 - Netherlands Radio PO & Ch/Mark Wigglesworth rec. 2006/10 BIS-SACD-1603 [81:13] [DM] A triumph for all concerned.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 8 Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Rienzi: Overture Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Salome: Dance of the Seven Veils - Royal Concertgebouw O/Andris Nelsons rec. 2011 C MAJOR UNITEL CLASSICA 709908 DVD [100:00] [JQ] A remarkable concert, splendidly captured on DVD.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 11 - Leningrad PO/Yevgeny Mravinsky rec. 1959 REGIS RRC1387 [60:22] [JQ] One of those recordings that’s an essential element in any Shostakovich collection.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906 - 1975) Cello Concertos 1 & 2 - Enrico Dindo (cello) Danish Ntl SO/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2010/11 CHANDOS CHSA 5093 SACD [60:11] [DC] A must-have and a life-changer for Shostakovich fans.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Cello Sonata Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Cello Sonata Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Cello Sonata - Jamie Walton (cello) Daniel Grimwood (piano) rec. 2011 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD274 [67:26] [WH] Magnificent performances of three fine twentieth-century cello sonatas.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Seven Preludes, Viola Sonata, Five Pieces from The Gadfly - Lawrence Power (viola) Simon Crawford-Phillips (piano) rec. 2010 HYPERION CDA 67865 [57.05] [PCG] Absolutely essential for the Viola Sonata but the Gadfly pieces make a superb additional cause for heartfelt recommendation.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphonies 2 & 5 - Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2011 BIS BIS-SACD-1986 SACD [78:04] [WH] Superb performances - these go straight to the top of my list.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) String Quartet Voces Intimae Leos JANÁČEK (1854-1928) String Quartet 1 Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942) String Quartet 1 - Henschel Qt rec. 2008 NEOS CLASSICS 11006 SACD [65:23] [MC] Dark and melancholy is explored through compelling playing of real distinction.

Agostino STEFFANI (1654–1728) Mission - Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo) Philippe Jaroussky (counter-tenor) Coro della Radiotelevisione svizzera, I Barocchisti/Diego Fasolis DECCA 478 4732 [80:28] [GF] As perfect as anything can be!

Oscar STRAUS (1870-1954) The Chocolate Soldier - Johannes Martin Kränzle, Caroline Stein, Händel Collegium Köln/WDR Rundfunkorch Köln/Siegfried Köhler rec. 1993 CAPRICCIO C5089 [34:11 + 53:59] [IL] A charming recording of a delightful operetta.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Also Sprach Zarathustra Gustav HOLST (1874-2934) The Planets - Boston SO/William Steinberg rec. 1970/71 LINN/UNIVERSAL UNI016 Download [75:54] [DM] A fine Zarathustra and a distinguished Planets, presented in analogue sound of rare subtlety and presence.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Lieder - Soile Isokoski (soprano) Marita Viitasalo (piano) rec. 2011 ONDINE ODE 1187-2 [64:05] [ST] If another song recital as good as this comes our way this year, then we will be blessed indeed.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Lieder - Daniel Behle (tenor) Oliver Schnyder (piano) rec. 2010/11 CAPRICCIO C5110 [57:48] [GF] Marvellously gifted Lieder singing.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Josephs-Legende - O Bayerischen Staatsoper München/Robert Heger rec. 1952 ACANTA 233593 [61:05] [RMay] A great performance, expertly directed and very well played. Heger is an experienced and convincing Strauss interpreter who has the full measure of the score.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Rite of Spring Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphony No. 5 - London SO/Leonard Bernstein rec. 1966 ICA CLASSICS ICAD 5082 DVD [85:54] [DM] Truly great performances; Bernstein at his magnetic best.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Rake’s Progress - Miah Persson (soprano) Topi Lehtipuu (tenor) Matthew Rose (baritone) Glyndebourne Ch, London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2010 OPUS ARTE DVD OA1062D [140:00 (opera) + 19:00 (extras)] [WH] A brilliant performance of an opera like no other, in a classic Glyndebourne production.

Josef SUK (1874-1935) A Summer’s Tale, Prague - BBC SO/Jiří Bĕlohlávek rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHSA 5109 SACD [79:32] [NB] Powerful burnished beauty … simply glorious.

Josef SUK (1874-1935) Asrael Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Sinfonia da Requiem - BBC SO/Jiří Bělohlávek rec. 2008 SUPRAPHON SU 4095-2 [61:50 + 21:23] [JQ] A fine souvenir of the fruitful partnership between Jiří Bělohlávek and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Maria SZYMANOWSKA (1789-1831) Ballads & Romances - Elizabeth Zapolska (mezzo) Bart van Oort (piano) rec. 2011 ACTE PREALABLE AP0260 [71:54] [SA] This is a disc of rare quality.

Joby TALBOT (b.1971) Alice in Wonderland - Lauren Cuthbertson, Sergei Polunin, Edward Watson, Zenaida Yanowsky, Covent Garden O/Barry Wordsworth rec. 2011 OPUS ARTE OA1056D DVD [120:00 + 30:00] [IL] An entrancing new look at the story of Alice in Wonderland.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Complete Symphonies - Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Yuri Simonov, Vladimir Fedoseyev rec.1983-98 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94307 [7 CDs: 442:00] [RMo] A bargain box of extraordinary quality and desirability … could hardly be bettered.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Violin Concerto, Sérénade Mélancolique, Valse-Scherzo, Souvenir d’un lieu cher - James Ehnes (violin) Sydney SO/Vladimir Ashkenazy rec. 2010 ONYX 4076 [69:43] [ST] An altogether outstanding disc.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Piano Concerto 1 Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Concerto - Van Cliburn (piano) RCA SO/Kyrill Kondrashin, Chicago SO/Fritz Reiner rec. 1958/60 REGIS RRC1391 [65:27] [SA] This is a brilliant historical record of Van Cliburn’s prowess and one to be treasured.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Eugene Onegin - Bo Skovhus, Krassimira Stoyanova, Andrej Dunaev, Royal Concertgebouw O/Mariss Jansons OPUS ARTE OA 1067D DVD [151:00 + 30:00 extras] [JS] A version which anyone who loves this most personal of operas needs to see and hear.

Alexander TCHEREPNIN (1899-1977) Complete Piano Music Vol. 1 - Giorgio Koukl (piano) rec. 2011 GRAND PIANO GP608 [62:38] [SA] This is one of those discs that makes me want to shout with delight... A wonderful disc altogether!

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Der Tag des Gerichts, Die Donnerode, Der Herr ist König - Barbara Schlick, Harry van der Kamp, Rheinische Kantorei, Das Kleine Konzert/Hermann Max rec. 1990/92 CAPRICCIO C5098 [70:45 + 65:30] [JV] This set is a must for every Telemann fan.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Macbeth - Simon Keenlyside, Liudmyla Monastyrska, Raymond Aceto, Ch & O Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Antonio Pappano rec. 2011 OPUS ARTE OA1063D DVD [170:00] [ST] An excellent release, altogether, and something that any fan of the opera would enjoy.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Complete Ballet Music from the Operas - Bournemouth SO/José Serebrier NAXOS 8.572818-19 [54:09 + 61:13] [DM] Two hours of pure, unadulterated pleasure.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Rienzi: Overture Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Salome: Dance of the Seven Veils Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 8 - Royal Concertgebouw O/Andris Nelsons rec. 2011 C-MAJOR UNITEL 710004 Blu-ray [100:00] [DM] Fine Wagner, good Strauss, inspired Shostakovich.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Walküre - Hallé/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2011 HALLÉ CDHLD7531 [4 CDs: 71:32 + 68:13 + 30:59 + 77:13] [BW] A very welcome alternative to existing recordings – and at a competitive price.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Götterdämmerung - Christian Franz, Deborah Polaski, Wolfgang Koch, John Tomlinson, Anna Gabler, Philharmoniker Hamburg/Simone Young rec. 2010 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 928 [4 CDs: 266:10] [GD] As good as you could want.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Gerald Finley (bass-baritone) Marco Jentzsch (tenor) Anna Gabler (soprano) Johannes Martin Kränzle (baritone) Glyndebourne Ch, London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2011 OPUS ARTE OA1085D DVD [280:00] [ST] This DVD is so good that it will always be so much more than a consolation prize.

Mieczyslaw WEINBERG (1919-1996) Symphony 20, Cello Concerto - Claes Gunnarsson (cello) Gothenburg SO/Thord Svedlund rec. 2011 CHANDOS CHSA 5107 SACD [70:50] [BR] At last! A new recording of one of my favorite cello concertos. Drop everything and listen to this.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Complete Piano Works Vol. 2 - Allison Brewster Franzetti (piano) rec. 2009/10 GRAND PIANO GP607 [57:28] [SA] Endlessly fascinating and powerfully stated. 

Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI (1876-1948) Triptychon, Arabesken, Divertimento, Venezianische Suite - Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Ulf Schirmer rec. 2008 CPO 777 567-2 SACD [68:34] [JS] Wolf-Ferrari’s later works are surely ripe for re-evaluation. Music that is good, varied and interesting as well as well-played and recorded.

1612 Italian Vespers Music by Gabrieli, Monteverdi & Viadana - I Fagiolini/Robert Hollingworth rec. 2010 DECCA 478 3506 [78.40] [GH] All in all, a refined and significant disc. 

Affettuoso Sonatas by Piani, Geminiani & Handelfont - Emilio Percan (violin) Oriol Aymat Fusté (cello) Luca Quintavalle (harpsichord) rec. 2011 ONYX CLASSICS 4099 [74:52] [JV] One of the best discs of baroque violin music I have heard for some time.

Rafael Aguirre (guitar) Recital rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572916 [62:16] [BR] Fantastic. Showcases exceptional playing and all sorts of Spanish delights new and old.

American Flute Quintets Joan TOWER (b.1938) Rising Arthur FOOTE (1853-1937) Two Pieces Amy BEACH (1867-1944) Theme and Variations - Carol Wincenc (flute) Kevin Lawrence, Carolyn Stuart (violins) Sheila Browne (viola) Brooks Whitehouse (cello) rec. 2011 BRIDGE 9373 [52:08] [SA] A wonderful disc and the music is brilliantly played.

Amoretti Arias by Mozart, Gluck & Gretry - Christiane Karg (soprano) Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen rec. 2012 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300389BC [72:52] [GF] Don’t miss this!

Amour, viens animer ma voix! French bass cantatas by Dornel, Campra, Clérambault & Courbois - Hugo Oliveira (baritone) Ludovice Ensemble/Fernando Miguel Jaloto rec. 2010 RAMÉE RAM 1107 [76:46] [JV] Fully idiomatic and strongly expressive performances.

Martha Argerich and Friends Live from Lugano 2011 - Martha Argerich (piano) Dora Schwarzberg (violin) Lucia Hall (violin) Lida Chen (viola) Gautier Capuçon (cello) EMI CLASSICS 6447012 [3 CDs: 225:40] [DC] Live vibe in Hi-Fi: a terrific collection.

Between Two Worlds Massimo Giacchetti (soprano and alto saxophone) Manuela Di Marco (organ) rec. 2011 DYNAMIC CDS724 [61:51] [DM] Simply gorgeous; a guaranteed pick-me-up.

British Clarinet Concertos Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Clarinet Concerto Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Clarinet Concerto Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006) Clarinet Concerto 2 - BBC SO/Michael Collins (clarinet) rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN10739 [65:45] [NB] Collins’ finest recording to date and one of the finest concerto discs of the year.

Canto Oscuro Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Chaconne, Prelude, Chorales Sofia GUBAIDULINA (b. 1931) Chaconne Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) 1922 Suite - Anna Gourari (piano) rec. 2011 ECM NEW SERIES 2255 [59:45] [DC] Beautiful, haunting and stimulating.

Il Concerto delle Viole Barberini Ens Mare Nostrum, Vox Luminis/Andrea De Carlo rec. 2011 RICERCAR RIC320 [59:33] [JV] A superb recording.

Dances to a Black Pipe Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Clarinet Concerto Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Hungarian Dances Nos. 12, 13, 1 and 21 (arr. Göran Fröst) Witold LUTOSLAWSKI (1913-1994) Dance Preludes Anders HILLBORG (b. 1954) Peacock Tales Fredrik HÖGBERG (b. 1971) Dancing with Silent Purpose - Martin Fröst (clarinet) Australian CO/Richard Tognetti rec. 2011 BIS SACD 1863 [81:31] [BR] This is a real treat: the incomparable Martin Fröst does jazz, klezmer, tango, and techno.

Dancing on Ivory Romantic transcriptions for piano - Jue Wang (piano) rec. 2011 MSR CLASSICS MS1404 [55:10] [BR] An adventurous program which exposes a strong young pianist truly coming into his own.

Dawn of Czech Modernism Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) String Quartet 2 Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Piano Quintet Vitězslav NOVÁK (1870-1949) Piano Quintet - Graffe String Qt, Michiko Otaki (piano) rec. 2010/12 RADIO SERVIS CRO545-2 [65:02] [SA] A joy to listen to from start to finish.

Emanuel Ensemble Works for flute, cello & piano by Kapustin, Gaubert, Schumann, Borne, Farrenc & Piazzolla rec. 2010/11 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD023 [75:37] [BR] You’ve probably never heard much of this music, and you’re sure to love all of it.

Eternal Light Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano) Age of Enlightenment O/Harry Christophers UNIVERSAL 4765970 [63:31] [MC] I cannot think of a finer exponent of early music around today than Thomas.

Fantasia Yuja Wang (piano) rec. 2011 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 0052 [68.56] [DMcC] An extremely accomplished artist.

Ferne Geliebte Lieder by Beethoven, Haydn, Schoenberg & Berg - Christian Gerhaher (baritone) Gerold Huber (piano) rec. 2012 SONY 88691935432 [67:05] [ST] A quite extraordinary disc. Rush out and buy it! 

Filia Sion Gregorian chant & works by Perotinus, de Grudencz & von Bingen - Vox Clamantis/Jaan-Eik Tulve rec. 2010 ECM NEW SERIES 2244 [71:07] [DC] Truly magical.

French Impressions Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Violin Sonata 1 César FRANCK (1822-1890) Violin Sonata Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Violin Sonata - Joshua Bell (violin) Jeremy Denk (piano) rec. 2010 SONY CLASSICAL 88697891822 [67:19] [LW] Winning accounts of French violin/piano sonatas warmly recorded.

From the Old World to the New Songs by Loeffler, Brahms, Bridge & Copland - Karina Lucas (mezzo) Rebecca Jones (viola) Simon Lane (piano) rec. 2009 SONIMAGE SON11101 [76:05] [SA] A true partnership of equals.

Golden Jubilee! Works by Casken, Dove & MacMillan - Kerry Beaumont (organ) HERALD HAVPCD 377 [74:53] [Byz] Masterly, confident, expressive, technically brilliant, making the most of this organ's amazing capabilities.

The Guerra Manuscript Vol. 2 17th century secular Spanish vocal music - Juan Sancho (tenor) Ars Atlántica rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572876 [64:53] [JV] A disc full of gems. 

Gulfstream Chamber works by Larsen, Lieuwen, Schickele & Copland - enhake, Corinne Stillwell (violin) Pamela Ryan (viola) rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.559692 [55:01] [BR] Four excellent, brief chamber in a sort of tasting menu of delights from the past 75 years.

Hirundo Maris Arianna Savall (voice, Gothic harp, Italian triple harp) Petter Udland Johansen (voice, hardanger fiddle, mandolin) Sveinung Lilleheier (guitar, dobro, voice) Miquel Ŕngel Cordero (double-bass, voice) David Mayoral (percussion, voice) rec. 2011 ECM NEW SERIES 2227 [79:54] [DC] A magical recording which casts a spell both wide and deep.

Homage to Paderewski Jonathan Plowright (piano) rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67903 [75:32] [JW] An outstanding disc.

Imagerie Musicale Johann Kaspar MERTZ (1806-1856) Elegie George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Sonata Carlo DOMENICONI (b.1947) Koyunbaba Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Chaconne Luigi LEGNANI (1790-1877) Fantasie Ástor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Milonga del Ángel, Primavera Porteńa - Maud Laforest (guitar) rec. 2011 MAUD LAFOREST 120811 [71:10]  [Byz] A hugely entertaining recital.

Italia Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Violin concertos, Nulla in mundo pax sincera Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770) Violin concerto, Violin sonata - Nicola Benedetti (violin) Scottish CO/Christian Curnyn rec. 2010 DECCA 476 4342 [76:54] [DC] Molto molto bene, giocare di nuovo …

Ladies Sing Baroque Natalie Stutzmann, Sandrine Piau, Magdalena Kozena, Patricia Petibon, Karina Gauvin, Marie-Nicole Lemieux NAĎVE V5294 [57:48 + 58:24] [GF] Spine-chilling and heart-rending listening experiences that may change your lives. 

Liaisons Arias by Mozart, Cimarosa, Haydn & Salieri - Chen Reiss (soprano) L’arte del mondo/Werner Ehrhardt rec. 2010 ONYX 4068 [55:48] [GF] Marvellous singing – an interesting and un-hackneyed programme.

Lieux retrouvés Works by Liszt, Janáček, Fauré, Kurtág & Adčs - Steven Isserlis (cello) Thomas Adčs (piano) rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67948 [76:44] [LW] A wonderful programme containing a stunning new work by Adčs for cello and piano.

The London String Quartet 1917-1951 Recordings MUSIC & ARTS CD-1253 [8 CDs: 542:45] [JW] Indispensable. The greatest British ensemble of the first half of the twentieth century in all its assurance, dedication, technical and musical accomplishment.

Love and Longing Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Biblical Songs Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Shéhérazade Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Rückert-Lieder - Magdalena Kožená (mezzo) Berliner PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2012 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 0065 [64:11] [MC] Kožená and Rattle in awesome form.

Music for a Time of War Charles IVES (1874-1954) The Unanswered Question John ADAMS (b. 1947) The Wound-Dresser Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Sinfonia da Requiem Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphony 4 - Sanford Sylvan (baritone) Oregon Symphony/Carlos Kalmar rec. 2011 PENTATONE CLASSICS PTC5186 393 SACD [78:04] [JQ] An uncommonly interesting programme, excellently performed and recorded. 

A Musical Journey - Norway Featuring music of Edvard Grieg NAXOS 2.110274 DVD [55.57] [RJF] A winner for all lovers of Grieg’s music, and his captivating country, alongside spectacular photography. 

A Musical Odyssey in St Petersburg Renée Fleming (soprano) Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone) Ivari Ulja, Olga Kern (piano) State Hermitage O/Constantine Orbelian rec. 2009 DECCA 074 3383 DVD [91:00 + 23:00 (bonus)] [RJF] A must for every lover of fine singing in wonderful venues in a magnificent city. 

New Favourites Swedish Chamber Choir/Simon Phipps rec. 2011 MUSICA REDIVIVA MRSACD103 SACD [73:47] [WH] A magnificent collection of modern Swedish choral music.

Nordic Sounds 2 Swedish Radio Ch/Peter Dijkstra rec. 2011 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS SA 32812 SACD [76:07] [GF] I can’t imagine this music, or any other music for that matter, better sung by any choir in the world.

Nordic Violin Favorites Works by Olsen, Atterberg, Stenhammar, Bull, Halvorsen, Sibelius & Sinding - Henning Kraggerud (violin) Dalasinfoniettan/Bjarte Engeset rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572827 [74:48] [DMcC] This fabulous recording features lesser known violin repertoire played with a keen advocacy. 

Notable Women Works by Auerbach, Garrop, Higdon, Schwendinger, Thomas & Tower - Lincoln Trio rec. 2010/11 CEDILLE RECORDS CDR90000 126 [67:20] [Byz] The marvellous Lincoln Trio sound both very comfortable and in total command of all this often highly exigent music.

Jelena Očić (cello) Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)/ Ignaz MOSCHELES (1794-1870) 5 Studies in melodic counterpoint Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Sonata 9 (transcr. Czerny) Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Cello Sonata - Jelena Očić (cello) Federico Lovato (piano) rec. 2011 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72524 [74:27] [NB] Simply stunning and revelatory … I do not expect to hear a better recital this year. Deserves to achieve classic status – more please.

Orlando Furioso Madrigals on the poem by Ludovico Ariosto - La Compagnia del Madrigale/Giuseppe Maletto rec. 2009/10 ARCANA A363 [69:49] [JV] The repertoire on this disc is of supreme quality, and so are the performances.

Los Pajaros Perdidos The South-American Project - Raquel Andueza, Lucilla Galeazzi (soprano) Philippe Jaroussky (counter-tenor) Luciana Mancini (mezzo) Vincenzo Capezzuto (alto) L’Arpeggiata/Christina Pluhar (harp) rec. 2011 VIRGIN CLASSICS 6785162 or 0709502 [75:23] [BW] Sheer musical enjoyment.

Passion & Resurrection Stile Antico rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807555 SACD [71:13] [JQ] Everything about this disc is outstanding: it’s another very impressive achievement by Stile Antico.

Nilla Pierrou & en Stradivarius  Nilla Pierrou (violin) Eugčne De Canck (piano) Roel Dieltiens (cello) rec. 1974-93 OAK GROVE CD 2027 [3 CDs: 231:47] [GF] Adds a lot to the picture of Pierrou - an obligatory purchase for all those who have heard her in concert but also those who haven’t.

Quam Dilecta French Romantic Choral Music - Ch Christ’s College, Cambridge/David Rowland, Roxy Summerfield (organ) rec. 2011 REGENT RECORDS REGCD 375 [69:07] [MC] A stunning release.

Romantique Arias by Donizetti, Gounod & Berlioz - Elina Garanča (mezzo) Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna/Yves Abel rec. 2012 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 0071 [60:42] [GF] Without doubt a candidate for my Recording of the Year.   

Songs of the Baltic Sea Ntl Youth Ch of Great Britain/Mike Brewer rec. 2008/10 DELPHIAN DCD34052 [76:59] [WH] An inspired and inspiring recital, magnificently sung and recorded.

Songs of the Baltic Sea Ntl Youth Ch of Great Britain/Mike Brewer rec. 2008/10 DELPHIAN DCD34052 [76:59] [JQ] A disc that confirms and enhances the National Youth Choir’s reputation for excellence and enterprise.

A Song of Farewell Music of Mourning & Consolation - Gabrieli Consort/Paul McCreesh rec. 2009 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD281 [75:56] [JQ] A disc of great distinction.

A Song of Farewell Music of Mourning & Consolation - Gabrieli Consort/Paul McCreesh rec. 2009 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD281 [75:56] [NB] A disc of the year without doubt.

Still Sound Bruce Levingston (piano) rec. 2005/9 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92148 [56:13] [BR] Levingston holds us spellbound with poetic, even sublime playing in a recital which takes us from 1828 to 2004.

Sublime Discourses The Complete Instrumental Music of John Milton & Martin Peerson - Fretwork, Michael Chance (alto) Sophie Yates (virginals) rec. 2009/10 REGENT RECORDS REGCD341 [61:34] [JV] This disc should receive the full attention of all who are interested in the music of the English renaissance.

Summertime Felicity Lott (soprano) Graham Johnson (piano) rec. 2000 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD008 [74:35] [Byz] A gorgeous, unmissable disc for all seasons. 

Surrexit Christus Vespers & Procession on Easter Sunday in the Notre Dame in Paris in the 13th Century - Ensemble Grégorien de Notre Dame de Paris/Sylvain Dieudonné rec. 2009 HORTUS 073 [71:17] [JV] In every respect a winner.

Le triomphe de l'amour Arias by Rameau, Lully, Rebel & Charpentier - Sandrine Piau (soprano) Les Paladins/Jérôme Corréas rec. 2011 NAĎVE OP 30532 [60:57] [JV] A superior disc which displays the features of French opera in full glory.

Nobuyuki Tsujii - Live at Carnegie Hall Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonata 17 Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Etude de concert, Rigoletto Paraphrase Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition rec. 2011 EUROARTS 2059084 Blu-ray [97:00] [DM] A profound and bewitching talent; inspiring in every way.

Günter Wand - The Munich Phil Recordings Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphonies 4, 5, 6, 8 & 9 Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphonies 8 & 9 Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 1 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 1 - Munich PO/Günter Wand rec. 1993-2001 PROFIL EDITION PH06013 [8 CDs: 512:43] [MC] Indispensable gems in performances that lovers of Austro-German Romantic repertoire will certainly relish.

The Word Unspoken Works by Byrd & De Monte - Gallicantus/Gabriel Crouch (baritone) rec. 2008-2011 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD295 [69:17] [MG] The sheer beauty of Gallicantus’s singing is totally captivating.


Bargains of the Month

Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787) Ezio - Sonia Prina (alto) Max Emanuel Cencic (counter-tenor) Il Complesso Barocco/Alan Curtis rec. 2008 VIRGIN CLASSICS 0709292 [69:27 + 77:26] [MS] On all counts this new Virgin release must now be considered the preferred recording. 

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Das Lied von der Erde - Jane Henschel (mezzo) Gregory Kunde (tenor) Houston SO/Hans Graf rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572498 [62:46] [DM] The talents of this newcomer are so prodigious and its faults so minor … this comes pretty close to ideal.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 5, Piano Concerto 2 - New York PO/Leonard Bernstein (piano) rec. 1960 REGIS RRC1377 [65:09] [RB] Sensational … Phenomenal. 

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphonies 6 & 12 - Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2009/10 NAXOS 8.572658 [69:38] [LW] Petrenko’s Shostakovich 6 and 12 are unmissable.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Richard Strauss Edition BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9249 [35 CDs + CD-ROM] [RB] An ambitious lunge in the direction of comprehensive coverage - a knock-out blow.

Italian Concertos and Sonatas Lucia Swarts (cello), Richte van der Meer (cello) rec. 1999 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72516 [3 CDs: 181:10] [JV] A garden of pleasure for every cello fan. Purchase and enjoy!


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