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Recordings of the Month 2015

John ADAMS (b. 1947) Absolute Jest, Grand Pianola Music - Synergy Vocals, Orli Shaham, Marc-André Hamelin (pianos), Saint Lawrence Qt, San Francisco SO/Michael Tilson Thomas; rec. 2013/15 SFS MEDIA SACD SFS0063 [57.34] [MC] Stunning … a cast-iron certainty to be one of my Records of the Year.

Kalevi AHO (b. 1949) Works For Solo Piano - Sonja Fräki (piano) rec. 2013 BIS BIS-2106 SACD [73:22] [DM] A genuine jaw-dropper, this; almost certain to be one of my recordings of the year.

Anton ARENSKY (1861-1906) Piano Quintet, String Quartet 2, Piano Trio 1 - Spectrum Concerts Berlin rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.573317 [80:23] [BR] The definitive recordings of some of the best chamber music from the romantic era and probably the one essential Arensky CD to own.

Sir Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006) Complete Symphonies - London SO/Richard Hickox; BBC Philharmonic/Rumon Gamba rec. 1993-2001 CHANDOS CHAN 10853(4)X [4 CDs: 297:40] [ST] A sound-world that is open and welcoming to new explorers.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Mass in B minor - Soloists, Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA68051/2 [57:06 + 57:37] [SG] A performance that couldn’t be bettered.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Magnificat, Cantata BWV63 - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Mark Padmore (tenor) Collegium Vocale Gent/Philippe Herreweghe HARMONIA MUNDIA HMA1951782 [61:49] [ST] Whatever the time of year, this disc is a winner.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) & Philip GLASS (b. 1937) Works for Organ - Iveta Apkalna (organ) rec. 2013 OEHMS CLASSICS OC1827 [79:58 + 80:21] [DC] One of my top organ releases of the year ... tremendous virtuosity, impressive musicality, remarkable recording quality.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I - Pietro De Maria (piano) rec. 2014 DECCA 4811304 [54:00 + 56:14] [SG] This is top-drawer playing of the finest order and I’m now eagerly looking forward to Book II.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1675-1750) Magnificat, Cantata 63 - Dunedin Consort/John Butt (organ) rec. 2014 LINN CKD469 SACD [78:00] [JQ] A compelling package for Bach collectors.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cantata 63; Magnificat - Dunedin Consort/John Butt rec. 2014 LINN CKD469 SACD [78:08] [BW] Top of my 2015 Christmas list: outshines just about every other recording of the Magnificat and the cantata.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Mass in b minor - Monteverdi Ch, English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2015 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG722 [51:11 + 54:34] [BW] Among the many strong recommendations for this wondrous work this is perhaps the strongest of all.

Angelo Michele BARTOLOTTI (1610?/1668?) Music For A Queen - Fredrik Bock (baroque guitar) rec. 2012 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1065 [64:14] [GP] Subtle music, intimately expressive of shifting thoughts and feelings, well played and recorded.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) & Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Concertos - Bronislaw Huberman (violin) Vienna PO/George Szell, Philharmonic-Symphony O New York/Artur Rodzinski rec. 1934/44 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC421 [76:23] [SG] A classic recording in superb transfer, and a live Brahms to thrill the fans.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 3 - Peter Sheppard Skaerved (violin) Dov Scheindlin (viola) Neil Heyde (cello) Aaron Shorr (piano) rec. 2003 METIER MSVCD2008 [49:01] [JS] Worth having no matter how many versions you have of the original.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Complete String Quartets Vol. 1 - Elias Qt rec. 2014 WIGMORE HALL LIVE WHLIVE0073/2 [57:54 + 52:44] [BW] Short and sweet means that I very much approve.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Sonata 3 Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Sonata 2 Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Violin Sonata 3 - Duo Sitkovetsky rec. 2012 LIMEN CDVD018C018 CD/DVD [62:37] [SG] I sincerely hope there will be more to come from this duo, whose intelligent and profound musicianship ticks all the right boxes.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 30-32 - Cédric Pescia (piano) rec. 2009 CLAVES 502903 [64:09] [SG] I can think of no better advocate for these last three sonatas than Cédric Pescia.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 5 & 7 - Pittsburgh SO/Manfred Honeck rec. 2014 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-718 SACD [71:27] [BR] You don’t often find yourself learning new things, and hearing new angles, in music as well-worn as Beethoven’s Fifth. That is what makes this such a special experience.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 5 & 7 - Pittsburgh SO/Manfred Honeck rec. 2014 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-718 SACD [71.27] [MC] Outstandingly performed and recorded this can sit comfortably alongside the finest recordings in the catalogue.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Symphonie fantastique, Lélio - Chicago SO & Ch/Riccardo Muti rec. 2010 CSO RESOUND CSOR9011501 [114:42] [DM] Superb, even revelatory accounts of both works; top-flight engineering, too.

Sir Arthur BLISS (1891-1975) Morning Heroes; Hymn to Apollo - BBC SO & Ch/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2015 CHANDOS CHSA5159 SACD [65:12] [JQ] A splendid new recording of Bliss’s eloquent musical commemoration of the fallen of World War I.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Serenades - Gewandhaus O Leipzig/Riccardo Chailly rec. 2014 DECCA 4786775 [65.19] [MC] Could not receive greater advocacy than these entirely convincing readings.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Clarinet Sonatas Carl REINECKE (1824-1910) Undine Sonata; Introduzione ed Allegro appassionato - Michael Collins (clarinet) Michael McHale (piano) rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHAN10844 [69:55] An excellent recording of the Brahms Sonatas but for me it is the Reinecke pieces which are the real stars here [SSi] What more could we possibly want? [PCG]

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Clarinet Quintet Alexander ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) Clarinet Trio - Emma Johnson (clarinet) John Lenehan (piano) Michelangelo Qt rec. 2013 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6310 [67:13] [RMo] It is hard to imagine a more musical recording of two such deeply satisfying works, ideally paired here.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Ein deutsches Requiem - Genia Kühmeier, Gerald Finley, Netherlands Radio Ch, Royal Concertgebouw O/Mariss Jansons rec. 2012 RCO LIVE RCO15003 SACD [67:30] [JQ] A distinguished account of the Requiem which deserves to rank with the best.

Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972) The Tigers - Teresa Cahill (soprano) Ameral Gunson (mezzo) Paul Crook (tenor) Ian Caddy (baritone) Dennis Wicks (bass) BBC Singers, BBC SO/Lionel Friend rec. 1983 TESTAMENT SBT3 1496 [3 CDs: 161:45] [JQ] The first recording of The Tigers is a magnificent achievement.

Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972) Symphonies 6, 28, 29 & 31 - New Russia State SO/Alexander Walker rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.573408 [69:51] [MC] De rigueur for all Brian admirers and lovers of British music alike.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 4 - Pittsburgh SO/Manfred Honeck rec. 2013 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-713 SACD [66:07] [MC] Bruckner’s music is remarkably well served here.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphonies 1, 3, 6 & 9, Mass 1 - Vienna Chorus, Vienna SO/F. Charles Adler rec. 1952-56 MUSIC AND ARTS CD-1283 [5 CDs: 292:56] [SG] Not only a valuable addition to the composer’s discography but an essential acquisition for any comprehensive Bruckner collection.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) String Quintet, Intermezzo, String Quartet - Fitzwilliam Qt, James Boyd (viola) rec. 2010/11 LINN CKD402 [76:33] [RMo] All Brucknerians will welcome this CD which unites all of Bruckner’s significant chamber music in one superb recording.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) & Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Motets - Tenebrae/Nigel Short rec. 2015 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD430 [74:42] [ST] Why hesitate?

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) & Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Motets - Tenebrae/Nigel Short rec. 2015 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD430 [74:42] [GPJ] Uplifting music performed with superb technique and musicianship by Nigel Short and his singers.

Britta BYSTRÖM (b. 1977) Picnic at Hanging Rock; A Walk after Dark; Invisible Cities - Ellen Nisbeth (viola) Malmv SO/Swedish RSO/Daniel Blendulf rec. 2013-2014 DAPHNE 1046 [67:01] [GF] A winner in every respect.

Alfredo CASELLA (1883-1947) Symphony 1, Symphonic Fragments from Le Couvent sur l’eau, Elegia eroica - Gillian Keith (soprano) BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2013/15 CHANDOS CHAN10880 [77:14] [IL] Hugely enjoyable for Casella fans and all those who enjoy Technicolor excitement in their music.

René de CASTÉRA (1873-1955) Concert, Sicilienne, Piano Trio - Linda Hall (piano), Samuel Magill (cello), Lucian Rinando (flute), Dean LeBlanc (clarinet), Elmira Darvarova (violin) rec. 2011 AZUR CLASSICAL AZC109 [76:33] [DJB] Only rarely does one uncover a gem such as that which has been unearthed here.

Emilio de CAVALIERI (c.1550-1602) Rappresentatione di Anima e di Corpo - Berlin State Opera Ch, Concerto Vocale, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/René Jacobs rec. 2014 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902200.01 [38.15 + 54.33] [GH] There are many reasons for wallowing in and really enjoying this work.

Bob CHILCOTT (b.1955) The Angry Planet - BBC Singers, The Bach Ch/David Hill rec. 2015 SIGNUM SIGCD422 [33:39 + 46:48] [GPJ] An inspiring disc with three of Bob Chilcott’s finest and most entertaining recent works.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Works Vol. II - David Wilde (piano) rec. 2013 DELPHIAN DCD34138 [78:13] [BR] One of the most personal, idiosyncratic, unforgettable Chopin recitals in years but not for everyone.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Autour des Ballades - Kotaro Fukuma (piano) rec. 2013 EDITIONS HORTUS 118 [75:53] [BR] One of the best Chopin recitals in recent years, blending the poetry and the power.

Francesco CILEA (1866-1950) L’Arlesiana - Annunziata Vestri, Dmitry Golovnin, Mariangela Sicilia, O Filarmonica Marchigiana/Francesco Cilluffo rec. 2013 DYNAMIC Blu-ray 57688 [105.00] [MC] A real find.

Roger Sacheverell COKE (1912-1972) Preludes, Variations - Simon Callaghan (piano) rec. 2014 SOMM CÉLESTE SOMMCD0147 [77:12] [SG] An exciting discovery. Simon Callaghan proves a persuasive advocate for these rarely heard piano pieces.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) An Outdoor Overture, Billy the Kid, El Salón México, Rodeo - Colorado Symphony/Andrew Litton rec. 2014 BIS BIS-2164 SACD [77:26] [JQ] Andrew Litton brings the Great American West vividly to life.

Alexander DARGOMYZHSKY (1813-1869) Rusalka - Evelina Dobračeva, Arutjun Kotchinian, Vsevolod Grivnov, WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln/Michail Jurowski rec. 2008 PROFIL EDITION PH09024 [3 CDs: 165.38] [MC] The most rewarding opera recording I have heard for some time.

Oliver DAVIS (b. 1972) Flight - Kerenza Peacock (violin) London SO/Paul Bateman rec. 2014 SIGNUM SIGCD411 [49:00] [KM] This is a disc for anyone who avoids contemporary music because they think that it’s all dissonant and angry.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Estampes; Préludes - Michael Lewin (piano) rec. 2014 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92190 CD/BD-A [68:56] [GPJ] A truly distinguished addition to the discography of Debussy piano music.

Charles DIEUPART (after 1667-c1740) Six Suites de clavecin - Fernando Miguel Jalôto (harpsichord) rec. 2012 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95026 [52:14 + 49:35] [JV] This is a definitely a most interesting set.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Les Martyrs - Michael Spyres (tenor) Joyce El-Khoury (soprano) O Age of Enlightenment/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2014 OPERA RARA ORC52 [3 CDs: 188.12] [RJF] Elder brings inspired conducting as well as dramatic cohesion and vitality to Donizetti’s first grand opera including music not heard since the premiere.

Jacques DUPHLY (1715-1789) Pieces du clavecin - Aya Hamada (harpsichord) rec. 2014 NAMI RECORDS WWCC-7784 [72:22] [DC] Simply the best.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Alfred - Felix Rumpf (baritone) Petra Froese (soprano) Ferdinand von Bothmer (tenor) Czech Phil Ch Brno, Prague RSO/Heiko Mathias Förster rec. 2014 ARCO DIVA UP0140-2 612 [51:18 + 73:36] [NB] A set all admirers of Dvořák should hear.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Stabat mater - Bavarian RSO & Ch/Mariss Jansons rec. 2015 BR KLASSIK 900142 [77:55] [MC] Although the competition is strong Jansons proves more than a match for the rivals.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) String Quintet 2 Krzysztof PENDERECKI (b.1933) Leaves of an Unwritten Diary - Silesian Qnt rec. 2014 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0334 [53:52] [BR] A new masterpiece, an old classic, two great performances, and my first 2015 Recording of the Month.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) & Édouard LALO (1823-1892) Cello Concertos - Johannes Moser (cello) PKF–Prague Philharmonia/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2015 PENTATONE PTC5186488 SACD [65:33] [LW] A superb Dvořák concerto and the Lalo is unmissable.

Antonín DVOŘAK (1841-1904) Violin Concerto Josef SUK (1874-1935) Fantasy Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Violin Concerto (reconstruction) - Josef Špaček (violin) Czech PO/Jiří Bělohlávek rec. 2014 SUPRAPHON SU4182-2 [66:12] [LW] Špaček and the Czech Philharmonic give praiseworthy accounts of their native music.

Julius Ernst Wilhelm FUČÍK (1872-1916) A Festival of Fučik - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Neeme Järvi rec. 2015 CHANDOS CHSA5158 SACD [79:56] [ST] A hit. Full price but full to the brim.

Domenico GALLO (c1730 - c1768) Sonate a quattro - Concerto Melante rec. 2014 DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 88875063252 [46:24 + 53:09] [JV] If you are willing to discover new ground, don't miss this disc.

Vladimir GENIN (b. 1958) Les Fleurs du Mal - Sybille Dithelm (soprano), Elena Revich (violin), Sergey Poltavsky (viola), Rustam Komachkov (cello), Olga Domnina (piano) VOXTORG VX1 [70:49] [DC] Powerful and evocative – a major new song-cycle.

George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Works for Piano and Orchestra - Jeffrey Siegel (piano) Saint Louis SO/Leonard Slatkin rec. 1974 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94861 [70:19 + 70:18] [JWh] A classic Vox recording and an incredible bargain.

Carlo GESUALDO da Venosa (1566-1613) Responsoria 1611 - La Compagnia del Madrigale rec. 2013 GLOSSA GCD922803 [3 CDs: 186:18] [JV] There is little to choose between this and Herreweghe's performance but here we get some extra and interesting items.

Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893) La Colombe - Erin Morley, Javier Camarena, Michčle Losier, Laurent Naouri, Hallé/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2015 OPERA RARA ORC53 [40.48 + 39.11] [MC] Sterling work in resurrecting and recording forgotten operas.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Complete Symphonic Works Vol. 5 - Camilla Tilling (soprano) Tom Erik Lie (baritone) WDR SO Köln/Eivind Aadland rec. 2012-2014 AUDITE 92.671 SACD [66:26] [GPJ] A fascinating selection … fine playing and stunning singing give this real distinction.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Piano Concerto Moritz MOSZKOWSKI (1854-1925) Piano Concerto - Joseph Moog (piano) Deutsche Radio Phil Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern/Nicholas Milton rec. 2014 ONYX 4144 [65:37] [SG] Terrific music-making. Definitely a winner.

Edvard GRIEG (1843–1907) Cello Sonata a Stephen HOUGH (b. 1961) Cello Sonata ‘Les adieux’ Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809–1847) Cello Sonata 2 - Steven Isserlis (cello) Stephen Hough (piano) rec. 2013/14 HYPERION CDA68079 [71:41] [SG] This illustrious duo is going from strength to strength.

Alois HÁBA (1893-1973) Complete String Quartets - Hába Qt, Sigune von Osten (speaker) rec. 2003-06 NEOS 11001-04 [4 CDs: 281:35] [SG] An exciting, imaginative body of chamber music, displaying an abundant wealth of ingenuity and invention.

Karl Amadeus HARTMANN (1905-63) Concerto funčbre Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998) Violin Sonata 1 Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Suite Italienne - Annie Jodry (violin) Ensemble Stringendo/Jean Thorel Hasmig Surmelian (piano) rec. live, 1990/2000 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1017 [60:06] [SG] Hartmann: one of the finest interpretations of this work that I have ever heard.

Johann Adolph HASSE (1699-1783) Siroe, Re di Persia - Max Emanuel Cencic, Franco Fagioli, Mary-Ellen Nesi, Julia Lezhneva, Armonia Atenea/George Petrou rec. 2014 DECCA 4786768 [83:53 + 82:35] [RWe] Something close to the acme of baroque opera singing in the current era.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphonies 31, 70 & 101 - Scottish CO/Robin Ticciati rec. 2015 LINN CKD500 SACD [77:08] [ST] A community achievement from a communal team ... a brilliant musical partnership.

Arthur HONEGGER (1892-1955) Jeanne d’Arc Au Bucher - Marion Cotillard, Xavier Gallais, Barcelona SO, Catalonia Ntl O/Marc Soustrot rec. 2012 ALPHA 709 [75:11] [SSi] An excellent recording of one of Honegger’s most popular works, one which should bring the composer some new converts.

Michael HURD (1928-2006) The Aspern Papers, The Night of the Wedding - Owen Gilhooly (baritone) Louise Winter (mezzo-soprano) Ulster O/George Vass rec. 2011/14 LYRITA SRCD2350 [69.33 + 41.24] [PCG] The Aspern Papers ... a masterpiece that richly deserves revival: not only Hurd’s longest stage work but also his finest.

William HURLSTONE (1876-1906) Complete Piano Music - Kenji Fujimura (piano), Julia Lu (piano, duet) rec. 2007/13 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0289 [75:24] [JF] A must-have CD for all British music enthusiasts.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Glagolitic Mass, The Eternal Gospel (Věčné evangelium) - Prague Philharmonic Ch, Prague RSO/Tomáš Netopil rec. 2013/14 SUPRAPHON SU4150-2 [58:20] [LW] Essential recordings of Janáček's Glagolitic Mass in a new version and The Eternal Gospel.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) String Quartets 1 & 2 Bedřich SMETANA (1824–1884) String Quartet 1 - Takács Qt rec. 2014 HYPERION CDA67997 [71:29] [SG] The Takács Quartet in stunning performances of these Czech masterpieces.

Johann Wenzel KALLIWODA (1801-1866) Violin Concertinos 1 & 5, Overtures 3, 7 & 10 - Ariadne Daskalakis (violin) Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens CPO 777 692-2 [57:28] The Kalliwoda Revolution continues with some extraordinarily dramatic overtures and Violin Concertinos full of experiments and eccentricities [BR] Recordings like this make the life of the hunter of the “unsung composer” worthwhile [DJB].

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Complete Songs - Konrad Jarnot (baritone) Adrianne Pieczonka (soprano) Reinild Mees (piano) rec. 2013/14 CAPRICCIO C5252 [74:54 + 74.43] [IL] If not the best, then certainly one of the best collections of Korngold’s very appealing songs.

Toivo KUULA (1883-1918) Festive march; South Ostrobothnian Suites 1 & 2; Prelude and Fugue - Turku PO/Leif Segerstam rec. 2015 ONDINE ODE12702 [70:50] [DJB] Quite a discovery - what a shame there is little else in Kuula's orchestral output.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Piano Sonata, Petrarch Sonnets, Aprčs une lecture du Dante - Angela Hewitt (piano) rec. 2014 HYPERION CDA68067 [74:37] [SG] A compelling alternative to my favourite versions of these magnificent works.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) The Complete Songs Vol. 3 - Gerald Finley (bass-baritone) Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA67956 [71:07] [GF] An excellent linguist with a naturally beautiful voice and a firm grip on the text.

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) Works for Solo Piano - Véronique Briel (piano) rec. 2013 DUX 0967 [58:01] [BR] Lutosławski’s solo piano music is extremely good, and deserves to enter both the repertoire and your listening library.

Luzzasco LUZZASCHI (c.1545-1607) Complete Keyboard Music - Matteo Messori (harpsichord, spinet, organ) rec. 2011 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94169 [72:00] [JV] A highly important production for historical and musical reasons.

James MACMILLAN (b. 1959) St Luke Passion - Netherlands Radio Ch & PO/Markus Stenz rec. 2014 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72671 SACD [73:03] [JQ] A superb first recording of an important, gripping score by James MacMillan: a ‘must’ for all his admirers.

James MACMILLAN (b. 1959) Piano Trio 2, Fourteen Little Pictures Peter MAXWELL DAVIES (b. 1934) Piano Trio Sally BEAMISH (b. 1956) Piobaireachd - Gould Piano Trio rec. 2014 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD090 [66:19] [SSi] The Gould Piano Trio give wonderful performances of all these works showing a real affinity with and understanding of the music.

Louis MARCHAND (1669-1732) Organ Works - Frédéric Desenclos (organ) rec. 2011 TEMPÉRAMENTS TEM316040 [72:52] [JV] Music, performance and instrument are of superb quality.

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Les amoureuses sont des folles Sally Silver (soprano) Richard Bonynge (piano) Christine Tocci (mezzo) Nico Darmanin (tenor) Gabriella Swallow (cello) rec. 2014 SOMM SOMMCD0151 [58.53] [IL] A strong choice for all lovers of Massenet’s richly sentimental lyricism.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Symphony 2, Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage - City of Birmingham SO & Ch/Edward Gardner rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHSA5151 SACD [73:01] [GPJ] Fresh, sparkling performances of this glorious music, beautifully captured in the spacious acoustic of Birmingham Town Hall.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Piano Trios - Sitkovetsky Trio rec. 2014 BIS BIS-2109 SACD [56:08] [DJB] Performances of these great works that equal the best, and in superlative sound.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Piano Trios 1 & 2 - Sitkovetsky Trio rec. 2014 BIS BIS-2109 SACD [56:59] [SG] Superb recording in state-of-the-art sound. I hope we'll be hearing more from these deeply committed artists in the future.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Concerto 1-5, Sinfonia Concertante - Rachel Barton Pine (violin), Matthew Lipman (viola) ASMF/Sir Neville Marriner rec. 2013 AVIE AV2317 [67:35 + 79:24] [NB] Delightful ... beautifully performed and presented.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Concertos 1, 3 & 4, Adagio & Rondo - Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin) Bavarian RSCO/Radoslaw Szulc rec. 2014 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 98.039 [76:47] [MG] Continuous engagement with the music and enjoyment in conveying all its twists and turns.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Concertos 1, 3 & 4 - Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin) Bavarian RSCO/Radoslaw Szulc HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD98.039 [77:31] [BR] Frank Peter Zimmermann records these concertos after performing each of them live more than three hundred times. The results are a new standard.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) La Finta Gardiniera - Carlo Allemano (tenor) Erin Morley (soprano) Le Concert d'Astrée/Emmanuelle Haďm rec. 2014 ERATO DVD 2564 616645 [74:00 + 101:00] [RF] Wonderfully simplistic staging and direction allied with outstanding singer acting are matched in the pit.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Opera Arias and Overtures - Elizabeth Watts (soprano), Scottish CO/Christian Baldini rec. 2013 LINN CKD460 SACD [BW] I thought I didn’t need another collection of Mozart overtures and arias … this one proved me very wrong.

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures from an Exhibition, Night on a Bare Mountain Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Piano Sonata 3 - Alessio Bax (piano) rec. J2015 SIGNUM RECORDS SIGCD426 [66:13] [DM] All-conquering performances in fabulous sound; quite possibly my Recording of the Year.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Symphonies 1 & 3 - Royal Stockholm PO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2013/14 BIS BIS-2048 SACD [72:28] [DM] This is a field-leading release, both musically and sonically; roll on Two and Six.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Symphonies 2 & 6 - Royal Stockholm PO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2014 4 BIS BIS-2128 SACD [64:34] [DM] A feisty, unfettered Second and a benchmark Sixth; a triumph for all concerned.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Symphonies 5 & 6 - New York PO/Alan Gilbert rec. 2014 DACAPO 6.220625 SACD [71:25] [JL] Landmark performances ... awe-inspiring.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Complete Symphonies - BBC Philharmonic/John Storgĺrds rec. 2012/15 CHANDOS CHAN10859 (3) [3 CDs: 211:38] [ST] Not just an anniversary plod: it’s a proper exploration, so join the explorers and prepare to be challenged.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Clarinet, Flute & Violin Concertos - Nikolaj Znaider (violin) Robert Langevin (flute) Anthony McGill (clarinet) New York Philharmonic/Alan Gilbert rec. 2012/15 DACAPO 6.220556 SACD [77:16] [LW] Alan Gilbert concludes his Nielsen cycle with winning accounts of the concertos.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Maskarade - Johan Reuter, Dénise Beck, Niels Jřrgen Riis, Danish National SO/Michael Schřnwandt rec. 2014 DACAPO 6.220641-42 [68:08 + 66:48] [JQ] A wonderful set. It’s hard to imagine a happier celebration of Nielsen’s 150th anniversary.

Johannes OCKEGHEM (c.1410/25-1497) Missa L'homme armé - Ensemble Nusmido rec. 2014 RONDEAU ROP6106 [69:19] [SG] Technically accomplished and inspired readings that would grace any vocal collection.

Carl ORFF (1895-1982) Trionfi: Trittico teatrale - Soloists, Rundfunkchor Leipzig, Dresdner Kapellknaben, Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Leipzig/Herbert Kegel rec. 1971/75 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95116 [71.35 + 65.29] [RMo] As fine a collection of Orff’s triple confection as you could hope to encounter.

Leo ORNSTEIN (1893-2002) Piano Quintet, String Quartet 2 - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) Pacifica Qt rec. 2014 HYPERION CDA68084 [72:48] [PRB] Sheer magic - stunning performances by Hamelin and the Pacifica.

Sir Hubert PARRY (1848-1918) Choral works - Onyx Brass, Daniel Cook (organ) Ch Westminster Abbey/James O’Donnell rec. 2014 HYPERION CDA68089 [78:52] [JQ] A magnificent disc.

Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935) Tintinnabuli - The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips GIMELL CDGIM049 [67:06] Absolutely outstanding performances to celebrate Arvo Pärt’s forthcoming 80th birthday [JQ] I enjoyed hearing this new Gimell recording as much as all concerned clearly enjoyed making it [BW].

Francis POTT (b.1957) Viola Sonata, Einzige Tage - Yuko Inoue (viola) Francis Pott (piano) Alla Kravchuk (soprano) Simon Phillips (piano) rec. 2014 EM RECORDS EMRCD028 [73:06] [SSi] Wonderful music with performances to match. This recording deserves to bring Francis Pott some well-deserved converts.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Chamber Music - Henrik Wiese (flute) Kolja Lessing (violin) Alexander Wienand, Eva-Maria May (piano) rec. 2014/15 PALADINO MUSIC PMR0049 [68:35] [MC] Lovers of French music will relish this beautifully produced release.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Piano Concertos, Aubade - Louis Lortie, Hélčne Mercier (pianos) BBC Philharmonic/Edward Gardner rec. 2015 CHANDOS CHAN10875 [72:44] Why did I wait so long to sample Poulenc’s concertos? [DJB] Sparkling performances of Poulenc piano works [LW].

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphony 5, Scythian Suite - Bergen PO/Andrew Litton rec. 2014 BIS BIS-2124 SACD [67:00] Magnificent Prokofiev recordings from Andrew Litton and the Bergen Philharmonic in stunning sound [JQ] Another victory for the Bergen Philharmonic, Andrew Litton and the mastery of BIS engineers [BR].

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Concerto 2, Sonata for Two Violins, Sonata for Solo Violin, Op. 115 - Viktoria Mullova, Tedi Papavrami (violins) Frankfurt Radio SO/Paavo Järvi rec. 2012 ONYX 4142 [50:55] [SG] An immensely enjoyable release.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Turandot - Mlada Khudoley, Manuel von Senden, Michail Ryssov, Vienna SO/Paolo Carignani C MAJOR Blu-ray 731504 [125:00] [MC] I was entertained royally from start to finish.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Nessun Dorma - Jonas Kaufmann (tenor) Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano rec. 2014 SONY 88765 092482 [CD: 60.54 + DVD: 28.03] [RF] Singing of power, expression and tonal variety that do justice to the variety of the composer’s creations. A collection to savour from the tenor of this decade at least.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873–1943) All-night Vigil - Phoenix Chorale; Kansas City Chorale/Charles Bruffy rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHSA5148 SACD [75:34] [JQ] A very beautiful and inspired reading.

Ferdinand RIES (1784-1838) Violin Sonatas, Grande Sonata - Eric Grossman (violin) Susan Kagan (piano) rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573193 [77:44] [PRB] Playing, positioning and recording first-rate. Charming and entertaining music. Simply too good to miss.

Anthony RITCHIE (b.1960) Symphony 4 - Jenny Wollerman (soprano) Christchurch SO/Tom Woods rec. 2014 ATOLL ACD314 [42:20] [NB] A remarkable and deeply moving work that demands international attention and acclaim.

Jean ROGER-DUCASSE (1873-1954) The Complete Piano Music - Martin Jones (piano), Adrian Farmer (2nd piano) rec. 2013/14 NIMBUS NI5927 [3 CDs: 185:37] [PCG] Excellently crafted and superbly performed music well presented.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Piano Trio 1 Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Piano Trio Vincent d’INDY (1851-1931) Piano Trio 2 - Horszowski Trio rec. 2013 BRIDGE 9441 [67.46] [MC] This winning French chamber music programme is compellingly played.

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) Keyboard Sonatas - Claire Huangci (piano) rec. 2014 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300603BC [66:33 + 64:12] [DC] Superb set. Pletnev meets his match.

Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958) Antoine et Cléopâtre Suites 1 & 2; Le Palais hanté - Buffalo PO/JoAnn Falletta rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573521 [59:43] [DM] Quietly sensational Schmitt, superbly recorded; nothing short of a revelation.

Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998) Symphony 3 - Tobias Berndt (organ) Heike Gneiting (piano) Berlin RSO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2014 PENTATONE SACD PTC5186485 [52:16] [MC] The fascination of this music and the quality of what is a sublime performance combine for a compelling aural experience.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Matthias Goerne (baritone) Christoph Eschenbach (piano) rec. 2011 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902107 [74:54] [ST] A modern baritone version in digital sound ... you really can’t beat this one. Brilliant and a fitting culmination to Goerne’s HM Schubert cycle.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphony 9 - O Mozart/Claudio Abbado rec. 2011 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 4652 [62.47] [MC] Schubert’s Ninth has never been more beautifully played and recorded.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quartets 12 & 15 - Quatuor Terpsycordes rec. 2015 AMBRONAY AMY044 [57:31] [MG] Played on period instruments, this entire CD is a revelation.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) String Quartets 1-3 - Quatuor Hermčs rec. 2014 LA DOLCE VOLTA LDV17 [74:46] [SG] On the evidence of this recording I have no doubt that we are going to hear much more from this accomplished ensemble.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Works Vol. 3 - Novelletten, Davidsbündlertänze, Abegg Variations, Geistervariationen - Imogen Cooper (piano) rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHAN10874 [75:51] [SSi] Great feeling and eloquence.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Symphony 1, Počme de l’extase -  Chamber Ch Moscow Conservatory, Russian Ntl O/Mikhail Pletnev rec. 2014 PENTATONE PTC5186514 SACD [78:00] [DM] Incandescent Scriabin, superbly recorded; Muti has met his match at last.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Symphonies 3 & 4 - London SO/Valery Gergiev rec. 2014 LSO LIVE SACD LSO0771 [64:58] [MC] The LAWO will win many admirers but the Gergiev LSO Live proves awe-inspiring.

Mátyás SEIBER (1905-1960) Ulysses, Elegy, Three Fragments - Alexander Young (tenor) Cecil Aronowitz (viola) Peter Pears (narrator) London SO/David Atherton, London PO, Melos Ens/Mátyás Seiber rec. 1960/72 LYRITA SRCD348 [75:31] [JF] Three of Mátyás Seiber’s finest works. Magnificent.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 7 - Russian Ntl O/Paavo Järvi rec. 2014 PENTATONE PTC5186511 SACD [72:59] [DM] An unaffected, deeply humanising Seventh; quite possibly the best thing Paavo Järvi has ever done.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) String Quartet 2, Piano Quintet - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) Takács Qt rec. 2014 HYPERION CDA67987 [70:26] [GM] Fine performances, superbly recorded.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) The Execution of Stepan Razin, The Sun Shines over our Motherland, The Song of the Forests - Alexei Tanovitski (bass) Konstantin Andreyev (tenor) Narva Boys Ch, Estonian Concert Ch, Estonian Ntl SO/Paavo Järvi rec.2012 ERATO 2564 616666 [79:52] [DM] Paavo Järvi follows up his fine Leningrad with very persuasive performances of these cantatas; the playing, singing and sound are sensational.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Chamber Symphonies (String Quartets 1, 8 & 10 arr. Barshai) - Dmitri Ens/Graham Ross rec. 2014 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907634 [65:21] [JQ] Shostakovich’s music and Rudolf Barshai’s very understanding re-imagining of it is expertly served in these superb performances.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Piano Music from Ainola - Folke Gräsbeck (piano) rec. 2014 BIS BIS-2132 SACD [80:54] [DM] Musical and sonic nirvana, this; prepare to be overwhelmed.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) The Seven Symphonies - Lahti SO/Okko Kamu rec. 2012/14 BIS BIS-2076 SACD [3 CDs: 240:13] [DM] Kamu’s distinguished Sibelius joins Vänskä’s at the top of the tree; formidable engineering, too.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphonies 1-7, Karelia, Tapiola - Vienna PO/Lorin Maazel rec. 1963-68 DECCA 478 8541 [4 CDs: 245:59 & BD-A] [JQ] Maazel’s Sibelius cycle stands the test of time and now sounds splendid in BD-A sound.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphonies 1-7 - Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2014/15 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS BPHR150071 [4 CDs + BD-A + BD-V] [JQ] Very fine performances indeed. A lavish and distinguished tribute to Sibelius in his 150th anniversary year.

Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) String Quartets - Pavel Haas Qt rec. 2014 SUPRAPHON SU4172-2 [47:35] [SA] A truly memorable disc that must surely find a place in anyone’s CD collection.

Maximilian STEINBERG (1883-1946) Passion Week Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Chant Arrangements for Holy Week - Cappella Romana/Alexander Lingas rec. 2014 CAPPELLA ROMANA CR414-CD [61:57] [JQ] Steinberg’s Passion Week: a major discovery receiving a superb first recording.

Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871-1927) Piano Sonata 4 Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Valse triste, Impromptus, Finlandia - Cassandra Wyss (piano) rec. 2014 CAPRICCIO C5229 [76:14] [SSi] An excellent follow-up to Wyss's earlier Stenhammar disc.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Vier Letzte Lieder, Eine Alpensinfonie Wolfgang RIHM (b. 1952) Ernster Gesang - Anja Harteros (soprano) Staastkapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2014 C MAJOR Blu-ray 726504 [103:00] [ST] Two brilliant performances. Buy with confidence.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Der Rosenkavalier - Sophie Koch, Krassimira Stoyanova, Mojca Erdmann, Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsoper, Vienna PO/Franz Welser-Möst rec. 2014 C MAJOR Blu-ray 719404 [215:00] [ST] Probably now a first choice.

John TAVERNER (c.1490-1545) Missa Corona Spinea; Dum transisset I and II - Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips - rec. various times GIMELL CDGIM046 [62:07] A spectacular disc from the Tallis Scholars [JQ] lovers of Tudor polyphony should not hesitate [BW].

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Complete Symphonies - Russian Ntl O/Mikhail Pletnev rec. 2011-13 PENTATONE PTC5186489 [7 CDs: 409:22] [ST] This set stands pretty near the top.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Swan Lake - USSR State Academic SO/Evgeny Svetlanov rec. 1988 MELODIYA MELCD1002223 [3 CDs: 153:50] [DM] Simply unforgettable; Svetlanov at his considerable best.

Erkki-Sven TÜÜR (b. 1959) L'ombra della croce, Psalmody Carlo GESUALDO DA VENOSA (1566–1613) Moro lasso, O crux benedicta Brett DEAN (b. 1961) Carlo - Estonian Phil Chamber Ch, Tallinn CO/Tőnu Kaljuste rec. 2014 ECM NEW SERIES 2452 [58:31] [HC] Intelligently planned and superbly performed.

Christopher TYE (c. 1505-c. 1573) Consort Music - Claron McFadden (soprano) The Spirit of Gambo rec. 2014 MUSICA FICTA MF8022 [68:05] [JV] A most interesting and musically rewarding production.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872–1958) Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, ‘Pastoral’ Symphony, Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus, The Wasps Overture - Sarah Fox (soprano) Hallé/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2012/13 HALLÉ CDHLL7540 [74:16] Performances that rival even the classic Boult recordings [BW] Elder’s interpretation vividly highlights the troubled undercurrents of the Pastoral Symphony [MG].

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) A Sea Symphony - Katherine Broderick (soprano), Roderick Williams (baritone) Hallé Ch & O/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2014 HALLÉ CDHLL7542 [70.16] [JQ] A most distinguished and exciting addition to the Hallé’s Vaughan Williams cycle.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem - Anja Harteros (soprano) Daniela Barcellona (mezzo) Wookyung Kim (tenor) Georg Zeppenfeld (bass) Munich PO & Ch/Lorin Maazel rec. 2014 SONY CLASSICAL 88875 083302 [51.09 + 41.08] [MC] Awe-inspiring.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) I concerti dell’addio - Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi (violin) rec. 2014 GLOSSA GCD923402 [79:47] [DJB] Back on the home ground of Vivaldi, Biondi and Europa Galante are restored to their dazzling best.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Der Ring des Nibelungen - Vienna State Opera Ch, Vienna PO/Sir Georg Solti rec. 1958-65 DECCA 4786748 BD-A [877:42] [BW] A classic recording sounding better than ever in the latest transfer.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Walküre - Lauritz Melchior (tenor) Kirsten Flagstad (soprano) Hans Hotter (baritone) Metropolitan Opera O/Erich Leinsdorf rec. 1940 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO125 [3 CDs: 207:35] [RMo] This is a recording for the ages and every devotee of this wonderful opera should hear Pristine’s revitalisation of it.

Romanus WEICHLEIN (1652-1706) Encaenia Musices - Capella Vitalis Berlin RAUMKLANG RK3401 [68:18] [DJB] How can this glorious music and this brilliant ensemble be so little known?

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Sonata 3, Trio, Sonatina, Concertino, Symphony 10 - Gidon Kremer (violin) Kremerata Baltica/Gidon Kremer rec. 2012 ECM NEW SERIES 2368/69 [50:20 + 50:25] [MC] Undoubtedly one the finest Weinberg recordings available.

20th Century Romantics Works by Bloch, Bourgeois, Gliere, Montag & Piazzolla - Nicholas Bayley (double bass) Geoffrey Duce (piano) rec. 2012 NIMBUS NI6308 [68:43] [BR] If you don’t have too many double bass recitals, start here: it’s captivating.

Adoramus Te Motets, songs and consort music - Clare Wilkinson (mezzo) Rose Consort of Viols rec. 2012 DEUX-ELLES DXL1155 [72:41] [JV] This disc deserves special attention - the interpretations are pretty much ideal.

Agrippina Ann Hallenberg (mezzo) Il pomo d’Oro/Riccardo Minasi DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 88875 055982 [74:54] [GPu] An original and fascinating programme superbly performed, essential listening for any lover of the baroque.

Arias for Benucci Matthew Rose (baritone) Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA68078 [77:06] [GF] If there is any justice in this world this disc should be a bestseller and I urge readers to invest in it for the repertoire and for the magnificent singing.

Arias for Domenico Gizzi - Roberta Invernizzi (soprano) I Turchini/Antonio Florio rec. 2014 GLOSSA GCD922608 [56:49] [GF] You will be overwhelmed by the musical riches here and by some superlative singing.

A-Z of Singers rec. 1902-57 NAXOS 8.558097-100 [4 CDs: 312:54] [PSt] For anyone who wants on overview of this period this is self-recommending.

Mattia Battistini (baritone) The Complete Recordings rec. 1902-1924 & Selected Fonotopia recordings of Giuseppe Bellantoni (baritone) MARSTON 56002-2 [6 CDs: 466:51] [SG] Many hold Battistini in high esteem considering him the greatest Italian baritone singer on disc. Listening to these wonderful recordings, one can see why.

Piotr Beczala (tenor) The French Collection - O de l’Opéra National de Lyon/Alain Altinoglu rec. 2014 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4794101 [62.51] [MC] A compellingly desirable collection with real impact.

Jorge Bolet (piano) Ambassador from the Golden Age: A Connoisseur’s Selection for the Bolet Centennial rec. 1937-1989 MARSTON 56003-2 [6 CDs: 475:14] [SG] A worthy release, showcasing the ‘other’ Bolet. There could be no better centenary tribute.

Cantigas de Santa Maria Barbora Kabátková (soprano, harp, psaltery) Margit Ůbellacker (dulcis melos) Martin Novák (percussion) Hana Blaziková (soprano, harp) rec. 2014 PHI LPH017 [72.32] [GH] I am utterly taken with this ... simplicity and effortless beauty.

Dreams & Prayers Works by Bingen, Sanlikol, Golijov & Beethoven - A Far Cry, David Krakauer (clarinet) rec. 2013 CRIER RECORDS CR1401 [65:30] [BR] The inspiration and passion don’t flag for a single note, least of all through Osvaldo Golijov’s Jewish mythic masterwork.

Dumka Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition Mily BALAKIREV (1837-1910) Islamey Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Firebird dances - Kotaro Fukuma (piano) rec. 2014 EDITIONS HORTUS 115 [68:07] [BR] This talented pianist keeps improving with each new disc.

Etudes Works by Bartók, Debussy & Prokofiev - Garrick Ohlsson (piano) rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA68080 [66:35] [DM] Dazzling pianism, class-leading sound; another notch on Ohlsson’s bed post.

France-Espagne Works by Chabrier, Debussy, Massenet & Ravel - Les Sičcles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2012-14 MUSICALES ACTES SUD ASM17 [51:04] [ST] A hit.  A good idea for a disc and done so brilliantly that it will appeal to newcomers as well as avowed Francophiles.

Vera Gornostaeva (piano) Discovering a Legend Vol. IV - Works by Liszt, Schubert & Schumann rec. 1968-79 LP CLASSICS 1012 [71:21] [BR] This is how legends begin: up from old radio archives rises the work of a great pianist.

The Grand Organ of Durham Cathedral - James Lancelot (organist) rec. 2013 PRIORY PRDVD12 DVD/CD/Blu-ray [79:00 (programme) + 90:00 (extras)] [ST] This deserves to have widespread appeal.

Sir Charles Groves (conductor) British Music rec. 1968-1983 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 614724 [24 CDs: c. 28 hrs] [MC] A splendid tribute to a much admired champion of British music.

David Härenstam (guitar) Recital rec. 2014 DAPHNE 1053 [67:18] [GF] Guitar lovers: don’t hesitate. Music-lovers in general: don’t hesitate. This disc will embellish any CD collection.

The Hungarian Connection Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Clarinet Quintet, Waltzes, Hungarian Dances Leó WEINER (1885-1960) Két Tétel Traditional Dances from Transylvania - Andreas Ottensamer (clarinet) Leonidas Kavakos, Christoph Koncz (violin) Antoine Tamestit (viola) Stephan Koncz (cello) rec. 2014 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4811409 [61:30] [BW] The Clarinet Quintet is one of the best available; the second half of the programme makes the recording a winner.

Bryan Hymel (tenor) Héroďque - French Opera Arias - Prague Philharmonia/Emmanuel Villaume rec. 2014 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 617950 [72.54] [MC] Bryan Hymel in spellbinding form.

Identity Violin sonatas by Debussy, Janáček, Schulhoff & Szymanowski - Noé Inui (violin) Mario Häring (piano) rec. 2015 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38189 SACD [78:29] [SG] An imaginative and exciting programme. These persuasive accounts set the bar high.

Invocation Works by Bach, Liszt, Messiaen, Murail & Ravel - Herbert Schuch (piano) rec. 2013 NAĎVE V5362 [68:27] [BR] An inspired recital inspired by church bells and spanning 300 years, by one of our smartest young pianists.

I skogen Nordic Songs - Camilla Tilling (soprano) Paul Rivinius (piano) rec. 2014 BIS BIS-2154 SACD [66:21] [GF] Wonderful songs sung with the utmost delicacy. A wonderful rapport between these two artists.

Xavier de Maistre (harp) Moldau - rec. 2014 SONY CLASSICS 88875 049042 [62:01] [BR] Unexpectedly a delight: a crowd-pleaser with artistry.

The Marian Collection - Ch of Merton College, Oxford/Peter Phillips, Benjamin Nicholas; Charles Warren (organ) rec. 2014 DELPHIAN DCD34144 [67:42] [JQ] The latest excellent and stimulating disc from The Choir of Merton College.

Johanna Martzy (violin) RIAS SO/Ferenc Fricsay, Jean Antonietti (piano) rec. 1953-66 AUDITE 23.424 [58:22 + 46:49] [SG] Audite have done a wonderful job re-mastering these original analogue tapes from the RIAS archives and sound quality throughout is top-notch.

Mersenne's Clavichord 16th & 17th century French keyboard works - Terence Charlston (clavichord) rec. 2014 DIVINE ART DDA25134 [68:36] [JV] A unique and groundbreaking recording.

Ivan Moravec (piano) Twelfth Night Recital, Prague, 1987 - Works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy & Mozart SUPRAPHON SU41902 [53:56 + 36:38] [SG] A fitting tribute to a great pianist who died earlier this year.

A Musical Journey into the English Renaissance Stile Antico rec. 2007-12 HARMONIA MUNDI HMX2908727.29 [3 CDs: 231:34] [ST] I can't imagine a music-lover who wouldn't be delighted with this set.

Pavana Works for keyboard by Sweelinck & Philips - Kathryn Cok (harpsichord) rec. 2013 SFZ MUSIC SFZM0214 [68:25] [JV] A superb recital of some of the best keyboard music of the late renaissance.

Organ Polychrome - The French School Jan Kraybill (organ) rec. 2013 REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-133 [71:13] [DM] Pure magic; my store of enchanted objects has just increased by one.

Menahem Pressler - A 90th Birthday Celebration Menahem Pressler (piano) Benjamin Berlioz (double-bass) Quatuor Ebčne rec. 2013 ERATO 2564 625964 [75:39 & DVD: 116:30] [MC] Captivating lyricism in stunning live performances lent additional frisson by the occasion.

Revolutions 1830, 1848, 1871 Les Lunaisiens rec. 2011 PARATY 214123 [72:34] [JS] Puts the listener close to the mob ... hard to resist the sheer fervour of the sentiments expressed.

Grigory Sokolov (piano) The Salzburg Recital rec. 2008 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 4342 [48:58 + 60:04] [SG] A revelation. The applause says it all.

Suites & Overtures for the Radio Staatsoperette O Dresden/Ernst Theis rec. 2006-11 CPO 777838-2 [68:05 + 64:30] [NB] A hugely valuable addition to the discography of music in the Weimar Republic.

Sulla Lira The Voice of Orpheus - Le Miroir de Musique rec. 2014 RICERCAR RIC354 [65:06] [JV] The combination of repertoire, performance and high production standards makes this a disc not to be missed.

A Swedish Trombone Wilderness - Lars Karlin (trombone) rec. 2014 GENUIN GEN15337 [61:58] [GF] A must for trombone enthusiasts and all lovers of entertaining and thrilling music off the beaten track.

Tre Voci Tōru TAKEMITSU (1930-1996) And Then I Knew 't was Wind Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Sonata for flute, viola & harp Sofia GUBAIDULINA (b. 1931) Garten von Freuden und Traurigkeiten - Marina Piccinini (flute) Kim Kashkashian (viola) Sivan Magen (harp) rec. 2013 ECM NEW SERIES 2345 [52:07] [DC] A perfect disc?

Daniil Trifonov (piano) Live: The Carnegie Recital & Trifonov plays Frédéric Chopin rec. 2010/13 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4793795 [78:48 + 66:27] [SG] I can only echo the words of The Times’ critic, who said of Trifonov that ‘he has the world at his feet’.

Dinorah Varsi (piano) Legacy - rec. 1945-2004 GENUIN GEN15353 [35CDs + 5 DVDs: approx. 50 hrs] [SG] This project has clearly been a labour of love for Genuin, and this release will be enthusiastically welcomed by aficionados of great pianism.

Ion Voicu (violin) The Decca Recordings rec. 1965/72 DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 7841 [73:57 + 76:00] [SG] Marvellous ... should help bring this long-forgotten master back to public awareness. What a find.

War and Peace in Baroque Europe Hesperion XXI, Le Concert des Nations, La Capella Reial de Catalunya/Jordi Savall rec. 1996-2014 ALIA VOX AVSA9908 SACD [75:54 + 77:49] [ST] An incredibly impressive achievement, both as a curated festival of culture and as a humanitarian exploration.

Camilla Wicks (violin) Five Decades of Treasured Performances rec. 1946/95 MUSIC & ARTS CD-1282 [6 CDs: 463:00] [SG] This rewarding release constitutes a valuable addition to the slender discography of this notable artist.

Yo Te Quiere Matare Ministriles en Granada en el siglo XVI - Ensemble La Danserye rec. 2012 LINDORO NL3019 [66:14] [JV] More than an hour of brilliant and engaging music-making.

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