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Recordings of the Month 2013

Adolphe ADAM (1803-1856) Giselle (excerpts) Paris Conservatoire O/Jean Martinon rec. 1958 HIGH DEFINITION TAPE TRANSFERS HDCD204 [47:30] [DM] Spell-binding from start to finish.

Gregorio ALLEGRI (1582-1652) Miserere Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (c.1525-1594) Stabat Mater, Missa Papae Marcelli, Tu es Petrus Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips rec. 2005 GIMELL GIMBD641 [CD + BD-A: 76:00] [DM] Gimell’s first BD-A is a resounding success; a landmark in every way.

Kurt ATTERBERG (1887-1974) Symphonies 4 & 6, Suite 3 - Sara Trobäck Hesselink (violin) Per Högberg (viola) Gothenberg SO/Neeme Järvi rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHSA5116 [70.14] [IL] Technicolor music in first class performances and recorded sound. 

Daniel Francois Esprit AUBER (1782-1871) La Muette de Portici - Oscar de la Torre (tenor) Angelina Ruzzafante (soprano) Opernchor des Anhaltischen Theaters Anhaltische Philharmonie/Anthony Hermus rec. 2011 CPO 777 694-2 [65:47 + 69:32] [RW] A sensitive and admirable reading of Auber's score. 

Lera AUERBACH (b.1973) 24 Preludes, Cello sonata, Postlude - Ani Aznavoorian (cello); Lera Auerbach (piano) rec. 2012 CEDILLE CDR90000137 [74:59] [BR] Authoritative performances of essential new music. This cello goes up to 11.

Grazyna BACEWICZ (1909-1969) Piano Quintet 1 Juliusz ZAREBSKI (1854-1885) Piano Quintet Aleksander LASON (b1951) Chamber Music 1 Lason Ensemble rec. 2011 CDACCORD ACD 178-2 [72:33] [JS] I was uncertain what to expect when I received this disc, but it gave immense pleasure from beginning to end.

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) Works for keyboard and violin - Aline Zylberajch (tangent piano) Alice Piérot (violin) rec. 2012 ENCELADE ECL1201 [70:47] [JV] The many twists and turns in Carl Philipp Emanuel's music come off perfectly here.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Suites for Unaccompanied Cello - Mary Costanza (cello) rec. 2008 MSR CLASSICS MS 1450 [69:12 + 78:55] [SG] New recordings of the Cello Suites which augment a well-represented catalogue and provide the listener with an enriching experience. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Johannes-Passion sung within reconstruction of Bach’s Passion Liturgy - Nicholas Mulroy (tenor) Matthew Brook (bass) Joanne Lunn (soprano) Clare Wilkinson (alto) Robert Davies (bass) Dunedin Consort/John Butt (harpsichord, organ preludes) Univ Glasgow Chapel Choir/James Grossmith (liturgy) rec. 2012 LINN CKD419  [69:46 + 69:00][JQ] A very fine performance of the St. John Passion, likely to become a landmark in the work’s discography.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Complete Bach Edition WARNER TELDEC 2564 66112-7 [equivalent to 153 CDs plus one DVD] [BW] A splendid bargain; if there were a category for USB of the Month, this would be it.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Violin Concertos - Anna Katharina Schreiber (violin) Freiburger Barock O/Petra Mülljeans; Gottfried von der Goltz (violin/director) rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 902145 [61:35] [ST]  A delight, an aural and musical treat, and a riposte to anyone who may think we already have enough of the Bach concertos.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Orgelbüchlein & Chorales - Francesco Cera (organ) Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera/Diego Fasolis rec. 2011/12 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94639 [67:20 + 67:14] [JFL] If I had to reduce myself to one recording of these works it would be Cera. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Cello Suites - Pieter Wispelwey rec. 2012 EVIL PENGUIN RECORDS EPRC012 [57:19 + 76:22] [DC] Adds to our understanding and appreciation of some truly great music. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cello Suites 1-6 - André Navarra (cello) rec. 1977 PHAIA PHU017.18 [69:24 + 70:17] [JW] The only thing being paraded here is the music’s greatness and the artist’s role in acting as the agent of that greatness.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Christmas Oratorio - Katherine Watson (soprano) Iestyn Davies (countertenor) James Gilchrist (tenor) Mathew Brook (bass) Ch of Trinity College Cambridge, O Age of Enlightenment/Stephen Layton rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA68031/2 [79:31 + 72:18] [JQ] A stylish and committed performance that renews again one’s awe at the genius of Bach.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Violin Concertos 1 & 2 - Isabelle Faust (violin) Swedish Radio SO/Daniel Harding rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 902146 [57:59] [ST] This disc is a winner. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Trio for flute, bassoon and piano, Serenade, Clarinet trio - Oslo Philharmonic Chamber Group rec. 2011 LAWO LWC 1034 [69:29] [JS] An excellent chance to enjoy rarely heard early Beethoven of real quality played and recorded with energy and sensitivity. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 – 1827) Piano Sonatas Volume 1 - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) rec. 2008-11 CHANDOS CHAN 10720(3) [3 CDs: 213:46] [MG] A significant achievement in its clean directness of utterance.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 1-9 - SWR SO Baden-Baden und Freiburg/Michael Gielen rec. 1997-2000 EUROARTS 2050558 [3 DVDs: 365:00] [JS] Imaginative, coherent and well considered … in every way worth hearing. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Sonatas for Violin and Piano - Leonidas Kavakos (violin) Enrico Pace (piano) rec. 2011-2012 DECCA 478 3523 [3 CDs: 246:11] [LW] Kavakos and Pace excel in their cycle of Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Fidelio Elisabeth Söderström (soprano) Anton de Ridder (tenor) Curt Appelgren (bass) Elizabeth Gale (soprano) Glyndebourne Fest Ch, London PO/Bernard Haitink rec. 1979 ARTHAUS MUSIK 102 307 [128.00] [PCG] This is an exceptional release. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Missa Solemnis Marlis Petersen (soprano) Elisabeth Kulman (contralto) Werner Güra (tenor) Gerald Finley (bass) Netherlands Radio Ch, Royal Concertgebouw O/Nikolaus Harnoncourt rec. 2012 C MAJOR 712704 [99:00] [LW] Harnoncourt’s Missa Solemnis is state of the art as video and audio… a special performance.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 28-32 - Igor Levit (piano) rec. 2013 SONY CLASSICS 88883 703872 [63:09 + 66:01] [DC] Beethoven 2.11, a remarkable reboot for the 21st century.

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) Norma - Maria Callas, Mario Del Monaco, Giulietta Simionato, Nicola Zaccaria, Ch & O Teatro alla Scala/Antonino Votto rec. 1955 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 083 [78:15 + 76:14] [RMo] This recording remains the finest memorial to her most famous role.

George BENJAMIN (b. 1960) Written on Skin, Duet - Mahler CO/George Benjamin rec. 2012 NIMBUS NI5885/6 [59:53 + 42:42] [MS] An unmissable major operatic event for contemporary British music by one of its greatest exponents.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Grand Messe des morts Barry Banks (tenor) London Phil Ch, London SO & Ch/Sir Colin Davis rec. 2012 LSO LIVE LSO0729 [52:58 + 41:10] [JQ] Sir Colin Davis’s final Berlioz recording: a very considerable reading of the Grand Messe des morts. It’s magnificent. 

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Symphonie Fantastique, Le Corsaire Overture Lyon Ntl O/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572886 [70:21] [JWh] Great performance and magnificent sound.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Les Troyens Bryan Hymel, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Anna Caterina Antonacci, Fabio Capitanucci, Robert Lloyd - O & Ch Royal Opera House/Antonio Pappano rec. 2012 OPUS ARTE OA1097D [245:00: opera + 30:00: extra features] [ST] A triumph.

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) Transcriptions for wind band - University of South Carolina Wind Ensemble/Scott Weiss rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573056 [63:22] [DM] Wind-band playing of the highest order; what a joyful noise!

Felix BLUMENFELD (1863-1931) Symphony Georgy CATOIRE (1861-1926) Symphony - RSNO/Martin Yates rec. 2012 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7298 [74:16] [RB] The ‘shadows’ cast by Tchaikovsky and Glazunov sometimes imparted light rather than suffocating shade.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quintets 1 & 2 - Uppsala Chamber Soloists rec. 2011 DAPHNE 1045 [52:26] [SG] Benchmark recordings of the two Brahms’ String Quintets from Sweden.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano concertos 1 & 2 - Hélène Grimaud (piano) Bavarian RSO, Vienna PO/Andris Nelsons DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 1058 [50:38 + 51:44] [DJB] Stands proudly above all others … except one.

Walter BRAUNFELS (1882-1954) Te Deum Leonie Rysanek (soprano), Helmut Melchert (tenor), Hermann Werner (organ), Gürzenich Ch, Cologne RSO/Günter Wand rec. 1952 ACANTA 233670 [56:28] [WK] An overwhelming historical recording. A composer finally coming into his own. One of Wand’s finest performances. 

Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Piano Quintet Cyril SCOTT (1879-1970) Piano Quintet 1 - Raphael Terroni (piano) Bingham String Qt rec. 1989 BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY BMS442CD [67:02] An important addition to the catalogue.

David BRIGGS (b. 1962) Messe pour Notre-Dame - Ch Trinity College, Cambridge/Stephen Layton, David Briggs (organ) rec. 2009 HYPERION CDA67808 [72:34] [JQ] An entente cordiale between the English choral tradition with that of French church music, spectacularly recorded. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913–1976) The Turn of the Screw Toby Spence, Miah Persson, Susan Bickley, London PO/Jakub Hruša rec. 2011 FRA MUSICA FRA507 [130:19] [MG] Superlatively sung, played, acted and directed.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1973) The Sacred Choral Music - Ch of New College Oxford/Edward Higginbottom rec. 2011-2012 NOVUM NCR 1386 [62:42 + 57:43] [MC] I cannot imagine these works being sung better.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) The Rape of Lucretia Ian Bostridge, Susan Gritton, Christopher Purves, Angelika Kirchschlager, Aldeburgh Festival Ens/Oliver Knussen rec. 2011 VIRGIN CLASSICS 6026722 [46:35+58:38] [ST] This recording acts as a solid advocate for a problematic opera. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) The Turn of the Screw Miah Persson, Toby Spence, Susan Bickley, Giselle Allen, LPO/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2011 FRA MUSICA FRA007 [111:00 (opera); 22:00 (extras)] [ST] Outstanding musical values and a brilliant sense of drama that will pin you to your seat.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Winter Words, Michelangelo Sonnets - Ian Bostridge (tenor) Sir Antonio Pappano (piano) Xuefei Yang (guitar) rec. 2013 EMI CLASSICS 4334302 [70:15] [ST] If anything else comes our way this year that is nearly as good as this then we can count ourselves very lucky indeed. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Peter Grimes Alan Oke (tenor) Giselle Allen (soprano) David Kempster (baritone) Ch Opera North & Guildhall School, Britten-Pears O/Steuart Bedford rec. 2013 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD348 [73:55 + 64:01] [ST] A set to invest in with confidence, and to continue enjoying long after the Britten centenary has passed. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) On This Island, The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo, Canticle I - James Gilchrist (tenor), Anna Tilbrook (piano) rec. 2011 LINN CKD404 [62.16] [EM-L] Of the very highest quality in terms of performances, presentation and sound quality.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) War Requiem - Erin Wall (soprano) Mark Padmore (tenor) Hanno Müller-Brachmann (baritone) City of Birmingham SO & Ch/Andris Nelsons rec. 2012 ARTHAUS MUSIK 108070 [97:00] [BW] Even if all other recordings were destroyed, this would serve as a first-class reminder of the power of the War Requiem.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 3 - Netherlands RPO/Jaap van Zweden rec. 2011 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72551 [59:35] [TB] One of the most seasoned Bruckner conductors working today. This is undoubtedly a major achievement.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 7 - London PO/Stanisław Skrowaczewski rec. 2012 LPO LIVE LPO-0071 [68:56] [JQ] A profoundly satisfying performance which may well be one of the finest ever recordings of Bruckner’s Seventh.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 8 - Hamburg PO/Simone Young rec. 2008 OEHMS OC638 [30:45 + 51:56] [JQ] Bruckner’s first thoughts on the Eighth Symphony in a superb performance.

Ronald CENTER (1913-1963) Music for solo piano - Christopher Guild (piano) rec. 2013 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0179 [69.48] [GH] A fine advocate for this music.

Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899) Concert, String quartet - Jennifer Pike (violin) Tom Poster (piano) Doric String Qt rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN 10754 [68.14] [PCG] An immediate choice for these works. 

Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Ballades, Preludes - Arthur Rubinstein (piano) rec. 1946/59 PRISTINE PAKM 060 [70:31] [GP-J] This is a historic CD that no lover of great piano music and unsurpassed pianism will want to miss.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Sonatas 1-3 - Eugéne Mursky (piano) rec. 2011 PROFIL EDITION GÜNTER HÄNSSLER PH04074 [79:16] [MC] Outstanding. Mursky can stand comparison with the finest.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Rodeo, Dance Panels, El Salón Mexico, Danzón Cubano - Detroit Symphony/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.559758 [70:08] [BR] Rodeo, uncut and as grand as it's ever been played before plus more rarities.

Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713) Chamber Sonatas Opp.2 & 4 - The Avison Ensemble/Pavlo Beznosiuk rec. 2010/12 LINN RECORDS CKD413 [74:30 + 76:01] [DBi] A magnificent set in all respects - and an essential purchase for lovers of baroque music.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Pelléas et Mélisande Jacques Jansen (baritone) Irène Joachim (soprano) Chorus Yvonne Gouverne Orchestre Symphonique/Roger Désormière rec. 1941 PRISTINE CLASSICAL PACO063 [76:08 + 78:19] [JQ] A legendary recording in a very fine transfer.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Préludes Books 1 & 2, Trois Nocturnes, Prélude à l’après-midi d’une faune Alexei Lubimov (piano) rec. 2011 ECM NEW SERIES 2241/42 [63:35 + 48:49] [DC] Very special indeed.

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) American Masterworks: Koanga, Appalachia, Sea Drift Aarhus Cathedral Ch, Aarhus SO & Ch/Bo Holten rec. 2011/12 DANACORD DACOCD 732 [78:26] [IL] Another fine addition to Holten’s growing Delius discography. His Appalachia is glorious but I have some minor reservations about Sea Drift.

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Sea Drift, Cynara Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Hymn of Jesus - Roderick Williams (baritone) Hallé Ch & O /Sir Mark Elder rec. 2011/12 HALLÉ CD HLL 7535 [62:25] [JQ] A disc that maintains and enhances the very high reputation of Sir Mark Elder and his Hallé forces.

Marbrianus DE ORTO and JOSQUIN DESPREZ Music at the Sistine Chapel around 1490 - Cut Circle/Jesse Rodin rec. 2008/10 MUSIQUE EN WALLONIE MEW 1265-1266 [74:38 + 74:49] [JV] Interesting repertoire, excellent singing and informative liner-notes.

Henri DUTILLEUX (1916-2013) Correspondances, Tout un monde lointain, The Shadows of Time Barbara Hannigan (soprano) Anssi Karttunen (cello) O Phil de Radio France/Esa-Pekka Salonen DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 1180 [67:04] [LW] A very special disc of Dutilleux’s Correspondances and other masterworks.

Petr EBEN (1929-2007) Chamber Music for Oboe - Marlen Vavříková (oboe) Radana Foltýnová (piano) Ivana Dohnalová (harp) Václav Vonášek (bassoon) Grand Valley Winds rec. 2013 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0195 [78:54] [SA] Magnificent … as much a tribute to oboist Vavříková as it is to composer Eben.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Choral works and part-songs - Rodolfus Choir/Ralph Allwood rec. 2009 SIGNUM SIGCD 315 [75.47] [IL] The Rodolfus Choir shine strongly in these well-loved Elgar part-songs choral works. 

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Violin Concerto - Catherine Manoukian (violin) Staatskapelle Weimar/Stefan Solyom rec. 2011 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300429BC [57:30] [NB] Potent and exciting. 

Georges ENESCU (1881-1955) Allegro, Cello sonatas - Valentin Radutiu (cello) Per Rundberg (piano) rec. 2013 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 98.021 [46:35 + 41:28] [SG] These are richly rewarding works, beautifully realized. 

Philipp Heinrich ERLEBACH (1657-1714) Overtures & arias Miriam Feuersinger (soprano) Franz Vitzthum (counter-tenor) Capricornus Consort Basel/Peter Barczi rec. 2012 CHRISTOPHORUS CHR 77366 [64:53] [DC] A recording to treasure.

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Requiem Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Partita; Chorales - Gordan Nikolitch (violin) Grace Davidson (soprano) William Gaunt (baritone) Tenebrae; LSO Chamber Ensemble/Nigel Short rec. 2012 LSO LIVE LSO0728 [68:15] [ST] A definite winner.

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Piano Quintets 1 & 2 - Quatuor Ebène (Pierre Colombet, Gabriel Le Magadure (violins) Mathieu Herzog (viola) Raphaël Merlin (cello) Éric Le Sage (piano) rec. 2010 ALPHA 602 [66:15] [IL] Imploring and heartfelt … sweet melancholy … poignant yearnings … delightful freshness. 

Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Requiem da camera Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Cantata misericordium Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) Two Psalms Britten Singers, City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox rec. 1991 CHANDOS CHAN 10783X [67.37] [PCG] If any lover of the music of English twentieth century composers does not have this disc in their collection, they should take steps to rectify the omission immediately.

Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997) 100th Anniversary set rec. 1967-1997 WERGO WER 6956 2 [3 CDs: 73:28 + 79:32+ 74:43] [BR] Of all the Françaix tribute albums in 2012, this is my top pick, thanks to the emotional depth of the two-pianos concerto and the hilarious tribute to Mozart.

Carlo GESUALDO da Venosa (1566 - 1613) Sesto Libro di Madrigali La Compagnia del Madrigale rec. 2012 DDD GLOSSA GCD 922801 [77:55][JV] An example of superb madrigal singing.

Peggy GLANVILLE-HICKS (1912–1990) Sappho - Gulbenkian O/Jennifer Condon rec. 2012 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0154-55 [61:21 + 66:48] [JS] An important discovery in a very individual style with the emphasis on texture and tone, melody and heterophony.

Philip GLASS (b.1937) Suite from The Hours; Symphony 3 - Michael Riesman (piano); Manitoba CO/Anne Manson rec. 2011 ORANGE MOUNTAIN MUSIC OMM 0086 [48:38] [BR] An essential part of my Glass collection and an obvious choice for those who don’t know Glass well.

Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936) Violin Concerto, Meditation, Mazurka-Oberek Othmar SCHOECK (1886-1957) Concerto quasi una fantasia Chloë Hanslip (violin) O della Svizzera Italiana/Alexander Vedernikov rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67940 [69:09] [RB] In a word: glorious.

Charles Tomlinson GRIFFES (1884-1920) Three Tone-Pictures and other piano pieces Garrick Ohlsson (piano) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67907 [79:04] [DM] Hugely commanding and authoritative; a landmark in every way.

Ivor GURNEY (1890-1937) Violin Sonata Lionel SAINSBURY (b. 1958) Soliloquy Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Violin Sonata Rupert Marshall-Luck (violin) Matthew Rickard (piano) rec. 2012 EM RECORDS EMR CD011 [68:31] [JQ] An important disc which unveils Ivor Gurney’s Violin Sonata to a worldwide audience.

Adalbert GYROWETZ (1763-1850) String Quartets - Pleyel Qt Cologne rec. 2012 CPO 777 770-2 [72:56] [BR] Inventive, often-surprising string quartets of which Haydn would have been proud. 

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Finest Arias for Base Voice Christopher Purves (bass) Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67842 [70:54] [BW] Worthy of comparison with the great Handel basses of the past.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Giulio Cesare Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Karina Gauvin, Romina Basso, Emöke Baráth - Il Complesso Barocco/Alan Curtis rec. 2011 NAÏVE OP30536 [3 CDs: 77:55 + 74:08 + 68:27] [ST] This Giulio Cesare is at least capable of holding its own alongside the competition.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Handel’s Finest Arias for Base Voice - Christopher Purves (bass) Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67842 [70:54] [JW] This outstandingly good disc offers a wide range of music, feeling, texture and mood.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Famous Choruses from Messiah - Barock Vokal, Mainz Neumeyer Consort/Michael Hofstetter rec. 2011 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 884 [54:28] [JB] An absolutely exquisite performance, and a must-have for any collection - brava!

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Complete Works for Viola Vol. 1 - Tabea Zimmermann (viola) Deutsche SO Berlin/Hans Graf rec. 2012 MYRIOS CLASSICS MYR010 [79:59] [MC] Heartfelt passion and a robust edge blow away the cobwebs and bring these works very much to life.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Der Schwanendreher; Trauermusik; Kammermusik 5; Konzertmusik - Tabea Zimmermann (viola) Deutsches SO Berlin/Hans Graf rec. 2012 MYRIOS CLASSICS MYR010 [79:59] [DC] A genuine winner.

Vagn HOLMBOE (1909-1996) Chamber Music Vol 1: Primavera; Gioco; Sonata per flauto solo; Ballata; Quartetto Ensembl MidtVest rec. 2010 DACAPO 8.226073 [72:20] [BB] In felicity these works sit comfortably beside those by Martinu and Poulenc.

Simeon ten HOLT (1923-2012) Canto Ostinato; Natalon; Aforisme II; Solo Devil’s Dances I-IV; Eadem Sed Aliter - Jeroen van Veen (piano) rec. 2012 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9434 [5 CDs: 78:15 + 46:59 + 67:43 + 50:10 + 77:12] [DC] Fascinating and life-enhancing, a real bargain.

Gabriel JACKSON (b. 1962) A ship with unfurled sails - State Ch Latvija/Māris Sirmais rec. 2010 HYPERION CDA67976 [78:21] [JQ] A memorable exhibition of unaccompanied choral singing and more fine music by Gabriel Jackson.

Ivan KARABITS (1945-2002) Concertos for orchestra 1-3 Valentin SILVESTROV (b.1937) Elegie, Abschiedsserenade Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.572633 [59:26] [SA] An absolutely brilliant disc that bowled me over.

Oleg KOMARNITSKY (1946-1998) Chamber and Instrumental Music - London Piano Trio rec. 2011 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0196 [57:47] [SA] I was bowled over by this music.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Much Ado About Nothing - University of North Carolina School of the Arts SO/John Mauceri rec. 2012. TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0160 [69.05] [IL] A delight for committed Korngold fans.

Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948) Giuditta Edda Moser, Nicolai Gedda, Martin Finke, Günter Wewel - Münchner Konzertchor & Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Willi Boskovsky rec. 1983/84 EMI 6150902 [57.56 + 71.17] [IL] An impressive and expressive Giuditta.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Hungarian Rhapsodies - Wiener Akademie O/Martin Haselböck rec. 2012 CPO 777797-2 [70:24] [RMay] I can only say OMG! This is amazing!

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Funérailles, Fantasie und Fuge über das Thema BACH, Ave Maria von Arcadelt Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Prelude and Fugue, Chorale Prelude & Fugue on “O Traurigkeit”, Symphony 4: IV - David Pipe (organ) rec. 2012 SFZ MUSIC SFZM0512 [71:10] [HP-R] Sure-fingered and footed, this recording is truly excellent and will appeal especially to those who don’t usually listen to organ music. 

James MacMILLAN (b. 1959) Tenebrae Responsories and other choral works - Westminster Cathedral Ch, London Brass/Martin Baker; Peter Stevens (organ) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67970 [72:58] [JQ] A splendid disc that shows yet again that James MacMillan is one of the most articulate and compelling of contemporary composers.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 2 - Miah Persson (soprano) Sarah Connolly (mezzo) Philharmonia Ch & O/Benjamin Zander rec. 2012 LINN CKD 452 [22:40 + 67:40] [JQ] Compelling Mahler from Benjamin Zander that makes the listener hear the music afresh.

Gustav MAHLER (1860 - 1911) Symphony 1 - London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2010 LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA LPO0070 [RMo] A triumph.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 5 - P-SO of New York/Bruno Walter rec. 1947 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC382 [61:29] [DM] A mandatory Mahler Fifth superbly re-mastered; don’t miss.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Lieder - Christian Gerhaher (baritone) Gerold Huber (piano) rec. 2009 RCA RED SEAL 88697567732 [75:52] [MC] Sheer enjoyment from start to finish. 

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 8 - Royal Concertgebouw O/Mariss Jansons rec. 2011 RCO LIVE RCO13002 [80:15] [ST] Jansons' Mahler 8 is a joy to have. 

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 8 - Christine Brewer (soprano) Camilla Nylund (soprano) Robert Dean Smith (tenor) Bavarian & Netherlands Radio Ch, Royal Concertgebouw O/Mariss Jansons rec. 2011 RCO LIVE RCO13003 [ 80:15 + bonus DVD 86:27] [JQ] An Eighth to remember - incandescent.

Loïc MALLIÉ (b.1947) and Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Retour de Bayreuth: Onze improvisations dur des thèmes Wagnériens Loïc Mallié (organ) rec. 1998 EDITIONS HORTUS HOR917 [63:47] [HPR] A “where’s Wally” of Wagner themes and a truly interesting project.

Luca MARENZIO (1553-1599) Primo Libro di Madrigali a cinque voce - La Campagnia del Madrigale rec. 2010/11 GLOSSA GCD922802 [67.37] [GH] Passionate, beautifully balanced with perfect intonation and clear diction. Superb.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Songs Without Words: Books 1-4 - Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano) rec. 2011 BIS BIS-SACD-1982 [69:19] [BR] A superb period-instrument recital; Mendelssohn so well-played it’s easy to take Brautigam for granted.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Octet Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805) Quintet - Academy of St Martin in the Fields rec. 1967 DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 7425 [51:50] [JS] A superb disc … the pleasure it will give for a small outlay is wholly exceptional.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Violin Concertos, Violin Sonata - Tianwa Yang (violin) Sinfonia Finlandia/Patrick Gallois, Romain Descharmes (piano) rec. 2010/11 NAXOS 8.572662 [66:41] [BR] I had six judges listen to Ms. Yang alongside Heifetz, Hope, Lin and Mutter, without telling who was who. The results were eye-opening.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Piano Trios Fanny MENDELSSOHN-HENSEL (1805-1847) Piano Trio - Hrvoje Jugovic (piano) Maria Bader-Kubizek (violin) Silvia Schweinberger (viola) Dorothea Schonwiese (cello) rec. 2009/10 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94490 [42:24 + 52:57] [BR] If you're interested in Mendelssohn on period instruments, it doesn't get much better than this. If you just want a set of the trios, the same advice applies. 

Federico MOMPOU (1893-1987) Piano works - Arcadi Volodos (piano) rec. 2012 SONY CLASSICAL 88765 433262 [63:03] [BR] This is truly a first-class production.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Complete Piano Trios - Willi Boskovsky (violin) Nikolaus Hubner (cello) Lili Kraus (piano) rec. 1954 ANDROMEDA ANDRCD 5149 [69:49 + 79:24] [SG] These wonderful trio performances have made a come-back in greatly enhanced, re-mastered sound. For me, they tick all the right boxes. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos 18-21 Cristofori/Arthur Schoonderwoerd (fortepiano) rec. 2011/12 ACCENT ACC24265/24278 [57:34 & 58:18] [Byz] A double coup de maître. Mozart has been liberated. Long live Mozart!

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos 20 & 27 - Maria João Pires (piano) Orchestra Mozart/Claudio Abbado rec. 2011 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 0075 [60:16] [MC] An astonishing meeting of minds. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Die Zauberflöte Kate Royal, Pavol Breslik, Michael Nagy, Ana Durlovski, Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2013 MEZZO BD BPH 130012 [152:00] [MC] A triumph.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphonies 35 & 38 - Danish Natl CO/Adam Fischer rec. 2012 DACAPO 6.220545 [53:05] [MG] A fresh perspective on chamber orchestra Mozart symphonies.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Die Zauberflöte Alfred Reiter, Norman Reinhardt, Ana Durlovski, Dénise Beck, Daniel Schmutzhard - Prague Philharmonic Ch, Vienna SO/Patrick Summers rec. 2013 C MAJOR 713708 [150:00] [JWh] A simply brilliant Magic Flute.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots Allan Clayton (tenor) Andrew Kennedy (tenor) Sophie Bevan (soprano), Orchestra of Classical Opera/Ian Page rec. 2012 SIGNUM SIGCD343 [52:52 + 31:50] [JS] A remarkable demonstration of the very considerable virtues of the composer’s very early works.

Otto NICOLAI (1810-1849) Psalms - Kammerchor Stuttgart/Frieder Bernius rec. 2009-11 CARUS 83.299 [50:30] [JV] Adventurous programming, superb singing: need I say more?

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Symphonies 2 & 3 - Erin Morley (soprano), Joshua Hopkins (baritone) New York Philharmonic/Alan Gilbert rec. 2011/12 DACAPO 6.220623 [72:23] [DC] With this CD I thee wed.

Arvo PÄRT (b.1935) Wallfahrtslied, Nunc dimittis, Fratres, Te Deum Gordan Nikolic (violin) Netherlands Chamber Ch & O/Risto Joost rec. 2012 GLOBE GLO5252 [63:59] [BW] A good selection of Pärt’s music well suited to beginners and experienced Pärt-fanciers alike.

Allan PETTERSSON (1911-1980) Symphony 6 - Norrköping SO/Christian Lindberg rec.2012 BIS BIS-SACD-1980 [59:50] [Byz] The always fundamentally tonal music is propelled constantly onwards by the sheer force of argument and expression … the listener's mind is unable to wander.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) The Complete Songs - Christopher Maltman, Brandon Velarde (baritone) Geraldine McGreevy (soprano) & others, Graham Johnson (piano) HYPERION CDA68021/4 [4 CDs:313:47] [ST] Done with exquisite style … praiseworthy and collectable.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Concerto 2 Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Violin Concerto - Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin) London PO/Vladimir Jurowski 2013 NAΪVE V5352 [51:00] [GP-J] Totally stylish yet wholly new; great playing from young soloist and orchestra on this truly outstanding issue.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Works for Piano: 1908-1938 - Roger Woodward (piano) rec. 1991 CELESTIAL HARMONIES 13292-2 [75:48] [SA] Woodward’s playing here is just breathtaking and one could never tire of hearing this disc.

Sergey PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Complete works for violin - James Ehnes (violin) Andrew Armstrong (piano) BBC PO/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2012/13 CHANDOS CHAN 10787(2) [76:03 + 65:09] [MC] An outstanding set which includes quite stunning performances of the two violin concertos. 

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Sonatas 1-5 - Peter Donohoe (piano) rec. 2012 SOMM SOMMCD249 [63:00] [DM] Top-notch Prokofiev, commandingly played; this is as good as it gets.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Sonatas 1 & 2; 3 Pieces from Romeo and Juliet Vadim Gluzman (violin) Angela Yoffe (piano) rec. 2012 BIS BIS-SACD-2032 [63:02] [DC] Simply the best.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Concerto 3 Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Piano Concerto 2 - Lang Lang (piano) Berliner Philharmoniker/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2013 SONY CLASSICAL 88883 732262 [60:40] [MC] Stunning performances of real gravitas.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) The Bells, Symphonic Dances Rundfunkchor Berlin; Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2010/12 WARNER CLASSICS 9845192 [71:39] [JQ] An exciting disc. Simon Rattle does two of Rachmaninov’s greatest works proud.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphonies 1-3, Prince Rostislav, Dances from Aleko, Caprice bohémien, Vocalise Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2009-13 WARNER CLASSICS 4095962/EMI CLASSICS 6790192/9154732 [59:18 & 62:51 & 73:05] [MC] Under Petrenko the RLPO comes together as one splendid and powerful whole to produce these magnificent performances.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) L'heure espagnole, L'enfant et les sortilèges Elliot Madore, François Piolino, Stéphanie d'Oustrac, Khatouna Gadelia, Elodie Méchain, London PO/Kazushi Ono rec. 2012 FRA MUSICA FRA 508 [126:00] [DBi] The best opera Blu-ray I have seen so far. Gorgeous music in well nigh perfect performances, perfectly recorded.

Cipriano de RORE (c.1515/1516-1565) Illuxit nunc sacra dies; Missa Doulce mémoire; Missa 'a note negre' Brabant Ensemble/Stephen Rice rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67913 [72:34] [MS] Beautiful Renaissance choral music performed with warmth and polish by experts.

Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Semiramide - Myrtò Papatanasiu (soprano) Ann Hallenberg (mezzo) SO & Ch of the Vlaamse Op Antwerp-Ghent/Alberto Zedda rec. 2011 DYNAMIC CDS 674/1-3 [3 CDs: 229:32] [ST] A dramatic, incisive and exciting take on a wonderful opera, and it deserves to be heard. 

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Le Siège de Corinthe - Lorenzo Regazzo (bass) Marc Sala (tenor) Majella Cullagh (soprano) Camerata Bach Ch, Poznan, Virtuosi Brunensis/Jean-Luc Tingaud rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.660329-30 [75.41 + 75.38] [RJF] This excellent performance fills a significant gap. At bargain price no enthusiast should hesitate.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Piano Quartet; Piano Quintet; Barcarolle - Cristina Ortiz (piano) Fine Arts Quartet rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.572904 [71.12] [IL] A gorgeous programme of Saint-Saëns’ beguiling chamber music played with great authority and flair.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Violin Concerto 3, La Muse et le Poète, Cello Concerto 1 - Renaud Capuçon (violin) Gautier Capuçon (cello) Radio France PO/Lionel Bringuier rec. 2013 ERATO 9341342 [65:48] [MC]  This all-French production is one of the finest discs I have heard this year.

Fazil SAY (b.1970) Hezarfen, Istanbul Symphony Burcu Karadag (ney) Aykut Köserli (percussion) Nationaltheater Mannheim/Dan Ettinger, Borusan Istanbul PO/Gürer Aykal rec. 2010/12 NAÏVE V5315 [68.10] [GH] A proper Turkish Symphony and proud of it. How I wish it could be heard live in the UK.

Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958) Complete Original Works for Piano Duet and Duo Vol.1 - Invencia Piano Duo rec. 2010-2011 GRAND PIANO GP 621 [54:14] [Byz] A dreamy Fauréan delight for jadedears – a summer zephyr under an azure sky.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonatas D.845, 960 - Maria João Pires (piano) rec. 2011 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 8107 [83:24] [DC] Schubert, as good as you are ever likely to hear him.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quartet Death and the Maiden, String Quintet - Pavel Haas Qt, Danjulo Ishizaka (cello) rec. 2013 SUPRAPHON SU4110-2 [37:51 + 53:51] [SG] Before listening to this recording I wondered what all the fuss and hype was about. Now I know; these performances are sensational.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Complete Symphonies - Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble/Mark Minkowski rec. 2012 NAÏVE V5299 [4 CDs: 247:06] [ST] The most successful Schubert set to have appeared since Abbado. Invest and enjoy.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) German dances, Hungarian melody, Impromptu, Sonata D959 - Inesa Sinkevych (piano) rec. 2011 INESA SINKEVYCH [67:26] [GA] An exceptionally fine performance of the great Schubert A major sonata.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1838) String Quintet Arnold SCHÖNBERG (1874-1951) Verklärte Nacht Janine Jansen, Boris Brovtsyn (violin), Maxim Rysanov, Amihai Grosz (viola), Torlief Thedéen, Jens Peter Maintz (cello) rec. 2012 DECCA 478 3551 [83:12] [DC] Straight onto the 2013 Recordings of the Year list.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Complete Works for Violin & Piano - Alina Ibragimova (violin) Cédric Tiberghien (piano) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67911/12 [54:49 + 62:52] [SG] This is one of the listening highlights of my year, all in all a consummate achievement.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 7 - Mariinsky O/Valery Gergiev rec. 2012 MARIINSKY MAR0533 [82:21] [DM] Unflinching, unerring and, above all, illuminating; a searing Seventh.

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Magnificat and Nunc dimittis Sir Hubert PARRY (1848-1918) I was glad, ‘Coronation’ Te Deum, Blest pair of Sirens, Jerusalem Carolyn Sampson (soprano) David Wilson-Johnson (bass) The King’s Consort/Robert King rec. 2012 VIVAT 101 [67:52] [JQ] An exciting disc. The music could scarcely be better served.

Johann STRAUSS (1825-1899) Waltzes, Polkas and Overtures - Anima Eterna Brugge/Jos van Immerseel rec. 1999 OUTHERE REWIND REW505 [59:35] [Byz] One of the finest recordings of Johann Strauss ever made.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments, Capriccio, Concerto in D - Steven Osborne (piano) BBC Scottish SO/Ilan Volkov rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67870 [60:17] [LW] Hyperion has issued the best collection yet of Stravinsky’s works for piano and orchestra. 

Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895) Requiem - Marie Fajtová (soprano); Franziska Gottwald (mezzo); Tomislav Mužek (tenor); Albert Pesendorfer (bass) Philharmonischer Ch München; Philharmonie Festiva/Gerd Schaller rec. 2012 PROFIL EDITION PH12061 [74:23] [MC] I loved every second of Suppé’s splendid Requiem a real discovery stunningly performed and so satisfyingly recorded too.

John TAVERNER (c.1490-1545) Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, Magnificats - The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips GIMELL CDGIM045 [79:03] [JQ] An exceptionally fine disc and a fitting celebration of the fortieth anniversary of The Tallis Scholars. 

Alexander TCHEREPNIN (1899-1977) Complete Piano Music - Vol. 2 Georgio Koukl (piano) rec. 2011/12 GRAND PIANO GP632 [62:54] [SA] A truly superb listening experience.  

Alexander TCHEREPNIN (1899-1977) Complete Piano Music Vol. 3 - Giorgio Koukl (piano) rec. 2011 GRAND PIANO GP635 [59:04] [SA] As thoroughly rewarding as the first two volumes.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Cantatas Vol. 2 - Rheinische Kantorei, Das Kleine Konzert/Hermann Max rec. 2006 CPO 777 261-2 [51:51] [JV] This is a disc to treasure. It shows Telemann and the performers at their very best.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Wind Concertos - Vol. 6, 7 & 8 - Camerata Köln, La Stagione Frankfurt/Michael Schneider rec. 2007-11 CPO 7774022/9999072/9999512 [64:02 & 67:02 & 69:38] [JV] The last volumes of one of the most important recording projects of recent times.

Veljo TORMIS (b. 1930) Curse upon Iron - Orphei Drängar/Cecilia Rydinger Alin rec. 2012 BIS-SACD-1993 [72:48] [GF] This is a disc not to be missed by choral music lovers.

Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949) Danzas fantásticas, Poema en forma de canciones, Ritmos, Sinfonía sevillana Clara Mouriz (mezzo) BBC Philharmonic/Juanjo Mena rec. 2011/12 CHANDOS CHAN10753 [71:27] [NB] Simply magnificent and a must-hear for all those with a penchant for all things Spanish and ripely orchestrated.

Peteris VASKS (b. 1946) Flute Concerto, Sonata for flute and alto flute solo, Aria e danza, Landscape with Birds - Michael Faust (flute, alto flute) Sheila Arnold (piano) Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä/Patrick Gallois rec. 2010/12 NAXOS 8.572634 [64:55] [SA] A wonderful disc of the most compelling music.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphonies 5 & 8 - Hallé O/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2011/12 HALLÉ HLL CD 7533 [68:21] [MG] A consistent and sustained appreciation of the reflective aspects of these RVW symphonies.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphonies 5 & 8 - Hallé O/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2011 HALLÉ HLLCD7533 [68:21] [JQ] A splendid disc that maintains the high standards of the recordings by Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) On Wenlock Edge; Ten Blake Songs Jonathan DOVE (b. 1959) The End Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930) The Curlew - Mark Padmore (tenor) Nicholas Daniel (oboe/cor anglais) Huw Watkins (piano) Britten Sinfonia/Jacqueline Shave rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807566 [72:35] [JQ] One of the finest discs of English song to have come my way in a long time. I urge you to hear it.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Three impressions for orchestra, Songs of Travel, Four hymns, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Prelude on an old carol tune Roland Wood (baritone) Andrew Kennedy (tenor) Royal Liverpool PO/Paul Daniel ALBION RECORDS ALBCD016 [60:28] [DJB] This is a major undertaking by Albion Records, and deserves to succeed as it is a triumph.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813 - 1901) Un ballo in maschera - Jussi Björling (tenor) Alexander Svéd (baritone) Zinka Milanov (soprano) Bruna Castagna (mezzo) Ch & O of the Metropolitan Opera/Ettore Panizza rec. 1940 IMMORTAL PERFORMANCES IPCD1033-2 [78:06 + 77:41] [GF] A ‘must-buy’ for every Björling admirer.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Overtures arranged for organ four hands - Silvio Celeghin & Federica Iannella (organ) rec. 2013 TACTUS TC812204 [50:47] [JS] A wonderful if slightly weird supplement to the originals.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Un giorno di regno - Guido Loconsolo (baritone) Andrea Porta (buffa bass) Anna Caterina Antonacci (mezzo) Ch & O Teatro Reggio, Parma/Donato Renzetti rec. 2010 C MAJOR 720304 [119:00 +10:00 (bonus)] [RJF] A joy to watch and to hear. An absolute must for all Verdi lovers.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Attila - Giovanni Battista Parodi (bass) Sebastián Catana (baritone) Ch & O Teatro Regio, Parma/Andrea Battistoni rec. 2010 C MAJOR 721704 [118:00 + 10:00] [RJF] Imaginatively staged, well-sung, vibrantly and idiomatically conducted. A thrilling winner in this series.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata -Roberto di Biasio, Michele Pertusi, Ch & O del Teatro Regio di Parma/Daniele Callegari rec. 2009 C MAJOR 720608 [144:00] [ST] Showcases the young Verdi at his very finest.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Stiffelio Roberto Aronica (tenor) Yu Guanqun (soprano) Ch & O Teatro Regio, Parma/Andrea Battistona rec. 2012 C MAJOR 723104 [127:00 +10:00 bonus] [RJF] Does justice to this nearly lost dramatic score of personal trials and moral principles.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Rigoletto Francesco Demuro (tenor) Leo Nucci (baritone) Nino Machaidze (soprano) Marco Spotti (bass) O & Ch Teatro Regio, Parma/Massimo Zanetti rec. 2008 C MAJOR 723304 [131:00 +10:00] [RJF] In my opinion this is by far the best-staged and performed Rigoletto in the modern digital format and should be a part of any opera collection. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Macbeth Kostas Paskalis (baritone) Josephine Barstow (soprano) James Morris (bass) Glyndebourne Ch, London PO/John Pritchard rec. 1972 ARTHAUS MUSIK 102 316 [146:00] [RJF] No producer gimmicks to mar this traditional production. Stage effects, singing and playing contribute a thrilling musical and visual performance worthy of the composer’s final version. 

Tomás Luis de VICTORIA (1548-1611) Tenebrae Responsories Tenebrae/Nigel Short rec. 2012 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD344 [72:01] [JB] The sheer beauty and power here almost defy description.

Leonardo VINCI (1696? – 1730) Artaserse - Philippe Jaroussky, Max Emanuel Cenic (counter-tenors) Concerto Köln/Diego Fasolis rec. 2011 VIRGIN CLASSICS 6028692 [3 CDs: 187:48] [GF] One of the best baroque opera recordings I have heard. Don’t miss it!

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Violin concerto - Giuliano Carmignola (violin) Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone rec. 2012 ARCHIV PRODUKTION 479 1075 [75:48] [BR] The cover art is silly, but the title sums it up. Very dramatic music and performances.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678 - 1741) Per l'orchestra di Dresda Vol. 1 - Les Ambassadeurs/Alexis Kossenko rec. 2012 ALPHA 190 [66:04] [JV] A highly interesting disc which not only sheds light on a lesser-known aspect of Vivaldi's oeuvre, but also on performance practice in Dresden.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Great Wagner Voices - Anja Silja, Elisabeth Grümmer, Josef Greindl, Theo Adam & others rec. 1963-71 BR KLASSIK 900310 [73:24] [MC] This release offers some stunning singing and remains one of the most enthralling discs I have heard for some time.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Walküre - Jonas Kaufmann, Anja Kampe, René Pape, Nina Stemme, Mariinsky O/Valery Gergiev rec. 2011/12 MARIINSKY MAR0527 [4 CDs: 236:36] [ST] If the rest of the Wagner bicentennial produces recordings as good as this then we are in for a great year.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tannhäuser Robert Dean Smith, Nina Stemme, Berlin RSO & Ch/Marek Janowski rec. 2012 PENTATONE PTC5186405 [3 CDs] [ST] A hit on almost every front. Exciting and musically brilliant.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Clarinet Concerto & concertino, Bassoon Concerto, Horn Concertino - Maximiliano Martín (clarinet) Peter Whelan (bassoon) Alec Frank-Gemmill (horn) Scottish CO/Alexander Janiczek rec. 2011 LINN RECORDS CKD409 [64:31] [ST] This disc is a real winner, and probably a top choice if you want to explore further than Weber’s famous clarinet concertos. 

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Violin sonatas, Piano quartet -Isabelle Faust (violin) Alexander Melnikov (fortepiano) Boris Faust (viola) Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt (cello) rec. 2011 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902108 [70:11] [MS] Music as full of substance as it is energy and nuance performed with style and sensitivity on period instruments.

Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) Italienisches Liederbuch Janet Baker (mezzo) John Shirley-Quirk (baritone) Steuart Bedford (piano) rec. 1977 ICA CLASSICS ICAC 5076 [80:13] [GF] A thrilling performance of Italienisches Liederbuch.

Arias for Caffarelli Franco Fagioli (counter-tenor) Il pomo d’oro/Riccardo Minasi rec. 2012 NAÏVE V5333 [78:00] [GF] Masterly, masterly, masterly.

Ay, Portugal 16th and 17th Century Music from Portugal and Spain - Siobhan Stagg (soprano) La Compañia/Danny Lucin rec. 2011 ABC CLASSICS 476 4955 [50.20] [GH] Pleasing, evocative performances of a charming and haunting repertoire.

Baroque oboe concertos Works by Albinoni, Handel & Telemann - Sarah Francis (oboe and oboe d’amore) London Harpsichord Ensemble rec. 1988-94 HERITAGE HTGCD400 [4 CDs: 270:21] [JWh] If you feel down in the dumps, give this a spin. A lovely set full of sunshine and at bargain price.

The Birth of the Violin - Le Miroir de Musique/Baptiste Romain rec. 2012 RICERCAR RIC 333 [65:26] [JV] Singing and playing at the highest level.

The Sound of Montserrat Caballé rec. 1970/79 EMI CLASSICS 721296 2 [5 CDs: 409:10] [GF] Should be in every true opera lover’s collection. Go out and buy.

Carmina Latina Cappella Mediterranea; Choeur de Chambre de Namur; Ensemble Clematis/Leonardo Garcìa Alarcòn rec. 2012 RICERCAR RIC 334 [62.31] [GH] A fine disc and well worth searching out. It will bring you much joy.

Twentieth Century Cello Sonatas Works by Bridge, Clarke, Delius, Ireland, Keys & Rubbra - Alexander Baillie (cello) John Thwaites (piano) rec. 2012 SOMM CD251-2 [57.37 + 71.51] [IL] Six significant British cello sonatas impeccably performed.

21st Century Spanish Guitar - Volume I Adam Levin (guitar) rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573024 [62:22] [BR] A trip to Spain resulted in the commission of some exciting new guitar repertoire any fan of the instrument should hear. 

Shura Cherkassky The Complete UK World Record Club solo recordings rec. 1950s-1960s GUILD GHCD 2398/99 [79:32 + 78:46] [SG] The ‘magic’ of Cherkassky’s playing shines forth in these splendid re-masterings.

Circus & Magic Reinis Zarins (piano) rec. 2012 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD048 [56:50] [SA] A brilliant performance of utterly impressive power.

Eine Deutsche Messe - Ensemble Nobiles rec. 2011-2012 GENUIN GEN12242 [69:30] [ST] Definitely worth exploring. Melted my heart and made me feel rather moved.

Joyce DiDonato (soprano) ReJOYCE - The Best of WARNER ERATO 9341212 [77.00 + 77.15] [RJF] Anybody who heard DiDonato at the Last Night of the BBC Proms or on live transmissions at the cinema will want this selection to better know her outstanding singing skills in more diverse repertoire.

Get Happy Virtuoso showtunes for piano - Jenny Lin (piano) rec. 2012 STEINWAY & SONS 30011 [64:05] [BR] “Get Happy”? The title sounds bossy, but it isn’t, because the album works like a charm.

Myra Hess The Complete Solo and Concerto Studio Recordings rec. 1928-1957 APR RECORDINGS 7504 [5 CDs: 396:50] [JF] A stunning collection of music played by one of the most talented of British pianists.

Incarnation Gabrieli Consort, Trebles of Copenhagen Royal Chapel Ch/Paul McCreesh rec. 2012 SIGNUM RECORDS SIGCD 346 [77:25] A Christmas disc for all seasons; magnificent singing from the Gabrieli Consort, superbly captured in the numinous spaces of Douai Abbey [PCG] A Christmas disc with a difference but also a triumphant success [ST].

The Young Alfredo Kraus - Arias and Songs: 1958-1962 Madrid CO, Madrid SO/José Luis Lloret, Mario Cordone, Enrique Estela PREISER RECORDS PR93482 [74.21] [MM-B] To be cherished and listened to over and over again. 

Piers Lane Goes to Town Piers Lane (piano) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67967 [76:08] [DM] Chockful of good things; Hyperion’s done it again.

Mediterraneo L`Arpeggiata/Christina Pluhar rec. 2012 VIRGIN CLASSICS 464 5472 [CD: 66:13 + DVD: 27:00] [RB] A renewing vibrant charm. 

Martha Mödl - Portrait of a Legend Martha Mödl (soprano, mezzo) rec. 1950-82 PROFIL EDITION GÜNTER HÄNSSLER DCD PH12006 [79:04 + 79:13] [MC] Opera-lovers everywhere will delight in this stunning voice.

Music for Two Organs The Viennese Habsburg Court of the 17th Century - Johannes Strobl, David Blunden (organs) Choralschola der Cappella Murensis rec. 2011 AUDITE 92.653 [72:36] [DM] Radiant music, superbly played, sung and recorded; a must for Baroque buffs, organ fanciers and audiophiles alike.

Pas de Deux - French Music for Piano Duo by Milhaud, Ravel & Poulenc - Mona and Rica Bard (pianos) rec. 2011 AUDITE 92.672 [74:03] [BR] The debut of an exceptional new piano duo - a charming French treat. 

Passacaglia Matthias Havinga (organ) rec. 2010 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9269 [64:19] [HPR] If you don’t listen to organ music then you should listen to this. A CD for lovers of dramatic and moving music performed by an outstanding talent.

The Phoenix Rising - Works by Byrd, Gibbons, Morley, Tallis, Taverner & White - Stile Antico rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU 807572 [74:34] [JQ] Glorious examples of Tudor polyphony, superbly performed and recorded.

The Phoenix Rising Works by Byrd, Gibbons, Morley, Tallis, Taverner & White - Stile Antico rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807572 [74:34] [ST] Yet another feather in Stile Antico’s already resplendent cap. 

Piano Rarities Vol. 3: Transcriptions - Cyprien Katsaris (piano) rec. 2009 PIANO 21 P21 045-N [79:37] [BR] For my fellow pianophiles I can give this the highest praise. For those who aren’t pianophiles: this album is one of the reasons why we exist. 

Polychoral splendour from the four galleries of the Abbey Church of Muri - Cappella Murensis, Les Cornets Noirs/Johannes Strobl rec. 2011 AUDITE 92.652 [73:07] [DM] My store of enchanted objects has just increased by one; a magnificent disc.

De Profundis Sacred music for male choir - Elin Rombo (soprano) Andrew Canning (organ) Magnus Einarsson (percussion) Orphei Drängar/Cecilia Rydinger Alin rec. 2013 BIS BIS-SACD-2053 [66:23] [JQ] An exceptionally fine disc of rewarding music for male voice choir.

De Profundis Sacred Music for Male Choir - Elin Rombo (soprano) Magnus Einarsson (percussion) Andrew Canning (organ) Orphei Drängar/Cecilia Rydinger Alin rec. 2013 BIS-SACD-2053 [66:22] [BR] I’m no choral music lover, but narrowing down my Recording of the Year list just got a lot harder.

Renaissance Radio Sacred Music from the Renaissance Era for Celestial and Secular Radio The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips rec. 1986-2013 GIMELL CDGIM 212 [75:00 + 76:79][JQ] Tune in to Renaissance Radio for some wonderful music – and no irritating announcers to get in the way!

Romantic Arias Works by Wagner, Schubert, Schumann, Nicolai & Weber - Christian Gerhaher (baritone) Bavarian RSO/Daniel Harding rec. 2012 SONY CLASSICS 88725 422952 [62:01] [ST] An exciting, beautiful and enlightening journey through early German Romantic opera with one of that period’s finest vocal exponents.

Russian Songs and Arias - Works by Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky & Rimsky-Korsakov - Dinara Alieva (soprano) New Russia State SO/Dmitry Yablonsky rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572893 [60:04] [GF] A recording to treasure! 

Sound The Trumpet Works by Handel & Purcell - Alison Balsom (trumpet) Iestyn Davies (counter-tenor) Lucy Crowe (soprano) The English Concert/Trevor Pinnock rec. 2012 EMI CLASSICS 4403292 [66:17] [JWh] Only the most unbending of purist zealots would fail to love this record.

Transitions Works by Beethoven, Dussek & Mendelssohn - Olga Pashchenko (fortepianos) rec. 2011 FUGA LIBERA FUG 598 [77:01] [BR] An album I’ll treasure. The blurry line between classical and romantic, explored by an intrepid new artist.

Verwandlung Songs of a year - Christiane Karg (soprano) Burkhard Kehring (piano) rec. 2009 BERLIN CLASSICS 0016762BC [59.05] [MMB] I am a fervent admirer of Ms Karg’s artistry.

Waiting for Benny A Tribute to Benny Goodman - Works by Gould, Bartok & Poulenc - Julien Hervé (clarinet) Maud Lovett (violin) Jean-Hisanori Sugitani (piano) Ying Lai Green (double bass) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573032 [67:17] [SA] It is difficult to praise this disc highly enough. 

Whither must I wander? Songs by Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Roger QUILTER (1877-1953) David John Pike (baritone) Isabelle Trüb (piano) rec. 2011/12 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD 314 [65.09][PCG] Should draw in anyone who cares about British song and the future of British singing. They will thoroughly enjoy themselves.

Roger Woodward in Concert Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Préludes Book 2 Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Mazurkas Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Partita 6 rec. 2007 CELESTIAL HARMONIES 133242 [80:23] [DC] A unique and remarkable concert. 

Zia Works by Frank, Harrison, Evangelista, Vali & Kats-Chernin - Del Sol Qt rec. 2012 SONO LUMINUS DSL92164 [74:29] [BR] Around the world in 80 minutes with five truly outstanding pieces. If anybody anywhere is going to release a better album than this in 2013, I can’t wait to hear it.


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