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Recordings of the Month 2016

Hans ABRAHAMSEN (b. 1952) let me tell you - Barbara Hannigan (soprano) Bavarian RSO/Andris Nelsons rec. 2015 WINTER & WINTER 910 232-2 [32:45] [LW] Abrahamsen’s extraordinary song-cycle receives a marvellous debut recording.

Kati AGÓCS (b.1975) The Debrecen Passion, Requiem Fragments, ... like treasure hidden in a field, Vessel - Lorelei Ens, Boston Modern Orchestra Project/Gil Rose rec. 2010-15 BMOP SOUND 1046 SACD [57:00] [SG] Compelling … never outstays its welcome. A beautifully balanced recording, superbly engineered.

Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909) Rapsodia Espańola, The Magic Opal Suite, Piano Concerto 1, Suite Espańola - Martin Roscoe (piano) BBC PO/Juanjo Mena rec. 2015 CHANDOS CHAN10897 [79:42] [SSi] Truly wonderful … the full excitement and character of Albéniz’s colourful music is to the fore.

Eugen d'ALBERT (1864-1932) Cello Concerto Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Kol Nidrei, Canzone Ernst von DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Konzertstück - David Pia (cello), Munich RO/Ulf Schirmer rec. 2014 FARAO CLASSICS B108089 [65.06] [MC] I cannot praise this album highly enough.

Eugen d'ALBERT (1864-1932) Cello Concerto Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Kol Nidrei, Canzone Ernst von DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Konzertstück - David Pia (cello), Munich RO/Ulf Schirmer rec. 2014 FARAO CLASSICS B108089 [65.06] [SG] One of those rare instances where I enjoyed every note from beginning to end … a stunning debut CD.

Jean-Henri d'ANGLEBERT (1629-1691) Complete Harpsichord Music - Francesco Cera (harpsichord) rec. 2013D BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94793 [3 CDs: 173:42] [JV] A fitting tribute to one of the great exponents of the French harpsichord school.

Grażyna BACEWICZ (1909-1969) Complete String Quartets - Silesian Qt rec. 2010/11 CHANDOS CHAN10904(2) [74:40 + 58:08] [SSi] Excellent performances, sound and booklet notes make this a real winner. A clear first choice for the string quartets of Grażyna Bacewicz.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Diabelli Variations Frederic RZEWSKI (b. 1938) The People United Will Never Be Defeated! - Igor Levit (piano) rec. 2015 SONY CLASSICAL 88875 060962 [3 CDs: 191:50] [SG] This has been an ambitious project, unquestionably an unmitigated success, a sure sign that Levit’s star continues on its ascendancy.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Clavier Book 2 - Pietro De Maria (piano) rec. 2015 DECCA 481 2361 [75:07 + 77:05] [SG] I am truly impressed by Pietro De Maria’s compelling vision of Bach’s ‘Forty-Eight’.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Johannes-Passion - Ch Bayerischen Rundfunks, Concerto Köln/Peter Dijkstra rec. 2015 BR KLASSIK 900909 [3 CDs: 177.23] [ST] Tremendously involving.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Psalm 51 Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Psalm 127 - Céline Scheen (soprano) Le Banquet Céleste/Damien Guillon rec. 2015 GLOSSA GCD923701 [56.17] [MC] One of the finest releases of sacred baroque music I have heard for some time.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Christmas Oratorio - Dunedin Consort/John Butt rec. 2015 LINN CKD499 [75:18 + 66:43] [ST] A marvellous seasonal gift.

Samuel BARBER (1910-1981) Adagio Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) String Quintet - Konzerthaus CO Berlin rec. 2014/15 CUGATE CLASSICS CGC013-2 SACD [50:26] [RMo] One of the most beautiful discs of its kind to come my way in quite some time.

Giovanni BASSANO (c1558-c1617) Ricercare per strumenti insieme - La Guilde des Mercenaires/Adrien Mabire rec. 2015 L'ENCELADE ECL1501 [66:03] [JV] Outstanding performances from the musicians in this ensemble who are all experts on their respective instruments.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Music for Cello & Piano - Xavier Phillips (cello) François-Frédéric Guy (piano) rec. 2015 EVIDENCE CLASSICS EVCD015 [73:38 + 55:18] [DC] One of, if not the best recording of these works.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Nine Symphonies - Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2015 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS BPHR160091 [5 CDs + 3 Blu-ray] [MC] This cycle should become a classic.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 3, Coriolan Overture - Le Concert des Nations/Jordi Savall rec. 1994 ALIA VOX AVSA9916 SACD [52:14] [DBi] The most thrilling period performance I have heard of both works, beautifully re-mastered.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Trios Vol. 3 - TrioVanBeethoven rec. 2015 GRAMOLA 99117 [68:16] [DJB] If you love the Beethoven trios, you owe it to yourself to hear these marvellous performances.

Alban BERG (1885-1935) Wozzeck – Christian Gerhaher, Gun-Brit Barkmin, Zurich Opera Ch, Philharmonia Zurich/Fabio Luisi rec. 2015 ACCENTUS MUSIC ACC20363 DVD [101 mins] [ST] This is a triumph – gripping and moving. The performance of Christian Gerhaher is outstanding, but there is also much else to admire and recommend.

Lennox BERKELEY (1903-1989) Stabat Mater, Mass for Five Voices, Judica me Michael BERKELEY (b. 1948) Touch Light - Marian Consort/Rory McCleery; Berkeley Ens/David Wordsworth rec. 2016 DELPHIAN DCD34180 [60:59] [JQ] Admirers of Lennox Berkeley’s music should put this disc at the top of their shopping list.

Lennox BERKELEY (1903-1989) Stabat Mater, Mass, Judica me Michael BERKELEY (b. 1948) Touch Light - Marian Consort, Berkeley Ens/David Wordsworth rec. 2016 DELPHIAN DCD34180 [60.59] [MC] My abiding memory of this Berkeley release is a clear sense of authenticity and elevated reverential expression.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Symphonie Fantastique Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764) Hippolyte et Aricie - Swedish RSO/Daniel Harding rec. 2015 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902244 [70:53] [ST] A fascinating pairing, full of pleasant surprises.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Roméo et Juliette - Katija Dragojevic (mezzo) Andrew Staples (tenor) Swedish RSO & Ch/Robin Ticciati rec. 2014 LINN CKD521 [50:49 + 43:05] [ST] The best of recent recordings of this work, the orchestral playing being especially fine.

Antonio BERTALI (1605-1669) La Maddalena - Scherzi Musicali/Nicolas Achten rec. 2015 RICERCAR RIC367 [67:42] [JV] Very vivid and highly expressive interpretations.

Heinrich BIBER (1644-1704) Plaudite Tympana, Battalia, Missa Salisburgensis - La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Le Concert des Nations, Hespčrion XXI/Jordi Savall rec. 2002/15 ALIA VOX AVSA9912 SACD [71:40] [ST] Tremendous.

Joseph Bodin de BOISMORTIER (1689-1755) Don Quichotte Chez La Duchesse - Chantal Santon Jeffery, François-Nicolas Geslot, Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet rec. 2015 ALPHA 711 DVD [117:00] [SSi] A real comic romp of an opera and a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours … every time I watch it I find something new to smile at.  

Arrigo BOITO (1842-1918) Mefistofele - René Pape, Joseph Calleja, Kristine Opolais, Bayerisches Staats O & Ch/Omer Meir Wellber rec. 2015 C MAJOR 739304 Blu-ray [140 mins] [MC] Compelling and thought provoking, it will be one of my ‘Records of the Year’.

Sergei BORTKIEWICZ (1877-1952) Piano Works - Nadejda Vlaeva (piano) rec. 2014 HYPERION CDA68118 [76:06] [PRB] If you’ve not heard any Bortkiewicz yet this stunning new release crystallises everything on a single generous CD.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) In finstrer Mitternacht - Nils Anders Mortensen (piano) rec. 2013 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1084 SACD [58:24] [DC] Intelligent and sensitive performances that can stand comparison with all competitors.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Trio 1, Piano Quartet 3 - Trio Wanderer, Christophe Gaugué (viola) rec. 2015 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902222 [73.54] [IL] Polished performances.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Concerto 1, Ballades - Paul Lewis (piano) Swedish RSO/Daniel Harding rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902191 [72:07] [ST] The best Brahms 1 we’ve had for years.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quartets Nos 1 & 2, In stiller Nacht - Cuarteto Quiroga rec. 2014 COBRA RECORDS COBRA0048 [73:05] [DHu] Were it within his temperament, Brahms surely would have exclaimed “Olé!”.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824 -1896) Symphony No. 3 - Staatskapelle Dresden/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2008 PROFIL PH12011 [72.01] [MC] Revelatory and awe-inspiring - it’s a certainty to be one of my Records of the Year for 2016.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824–1896) Psalm 146, Mass 3, Organ works - Munich Phil Ch, Phil Festiva Ebrach/Gerd Schaller (organ) rec. 2015 PROFIL PH16034 [2 CDs: 116:48] [JPr] This set is unique in presenting Psalm 146 and is thus self-recommending.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 9 - Philharmonie Festiva/Gerd Schaller rec. 2016 PROFIL PH16089 [36:54 + 47:43] [RMo] An accurate record of a truly spiritual experience.

Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707) The Complete Organ Music - Bine Bryndorf (organ) rec. 2002/07 DACAPO 8.206005 [6 CDs: 391:08] [SSi] A truly wonderful recording of the complete organ music of one of the founding fathers of the great German organ tradition.

Dario CASTELLO (? - 1644) Sonate Concertate 1629 - Musica Fiata/Roland Wilson rec. 2013 CPO 555 011-2 [81:36] [JV] This music is very exciting and so is the playing of Musica Fiata.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)Mazurkas - Pavel Kolesnikov (piano) rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68137 [69:19] [SG] This must be one of the most appealing Chopin discs I’ve ever come across.

Arnold COOKE (1906-2005) Symphonies 4 & 5 - BBC SO/John Pritchard, BBC Northern SO/Bernard Keeffe rec. 1975/81 LYRITA REAM.1123 [59:44] [SG] These visionary interpretations have prompted me to explore further the Cooke oeuvre.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Hear Ye! Hear Ye!; Appalachian Spring - Detroit SO/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2013/14 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559806 [72:27] [DM] A worthy companion to Andrew Litton’s Colorado Copland; augurs well for the rest of this series.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Organ Symphony, Orchestral Variations, Short Symphony, Symphonic Ode - Jonathan Scott (organ) BBC PO/John Wilson rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHSA5171 SACD [70.17] [MR] John Wilson and the BBC Philharmonic prove to be uncompromisingly powerful advocates of Copland’s early orchestral scores.

Michael CSÁNYI-WILLS (b.1975) Budapest 1944, Housman Songs, Elegy for our time - Ilona Domnich (soprano), Nicky Spence (tenor), Jacques Imbrailo (baritone), Chris McKay (horn) Londamis Ens/Mark Eager rec. 2015 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0329 [61.41] [PCG] A recording of real value … modern music which makes an immediate emotional connection.

R. Nathaniel DETT (1882-1943) The Ordering of Moses - May Festival Ch, Cincinnati SO/James Conlon rec. 2014 BRIDGE RECORDS 9462 [48:32] [RB] One of the finest American choral-orchestral works I know steps out of the dust.

Bernard van DIEREN (1887-1936) Symphony No 1, Introit, Elegie - Rebecca Evans (soprano) Catherine Wyn Rogers (contralto) Raphael Wallfisch (cello) BBC Ntl O & Ch of Wales/William Boughton rec. 2016 LYRITA SRCD357 [69:21] [JQ] Lyrita has brought van Dieren’s ‘Chinese’ Symphony in from the cold – and they’ve done so in style.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Le Duc D’Albe - Angela Meade (soprano) Michael Spyres (tenor), Hallé O/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2012 OPERA RARA ORC54 [44.58 + 48.40] [RF] It may seem short measure but the quality of Donizetti’s original creation along with the performance itself make this a must-have for lovers of bel canto.

Henri DUTILLEUX (1916-2013) Le Loup; Trois Sonnets de Jean Cassou; La Fille du Diable; Quatre Mélodies; Trois Tableaux symphoniques - Vincent Le Texier (baritone) O Ntl des Pays de la Loire/Pascal Rophé rec. 2015 BIS BIS-1651 SACD [74:20] [HC] A splendid selection of early works by Dutilleux … a must indeed.

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934), Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) & Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Violin Sonatas - James Ehnes (violin) Andrew Armstrong (piano) rec. 2015 ONYX 4159 [68.56] [IL] A well-conceived programme in first class performances.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Organ Works - Benjamin Nicholas (organ) rec. 2015 DELPHIAN DCD34162 [68.33] [IL] One of the very best of the Elgar organ music albums.

JOHANN ERNST Prinz von Sachsen-Weimar (1696-1715) The Complete Violin Concertos Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Concertos for Harpsichord - Anne Schumann (violin/director) Sebastian Knebel (harpsichord) Ensemble ‘Fürsten-Musik’ rec. 2014 CPO 777 998-2 [77:41] [MW] This is a wonderful discovery, to which I shall return often.

César FRANCK (1822-1890) Piano Quintet Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) String Quartet - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) Takács Qt rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68061 [62:25] [SG] Highly charged and passionate performances. The Takács Quartet goes from strength to strength.

Friedrich Theodor FRÖHLICH (1803-1836) String Quartets - Rasumowsky Qt rec. 2014/15 CPO 555017-2 [61.43 + 63.18] [MW] What a discovery!

Giovanni GABRIELI (1557-1612) 1615: Gabrieli in Venice - His Majesty’s Sackbutts & Cornetts, Ch of King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury rec. 2015 KINGS COLLEGE KGS0012 SACD/BD-A [73:10] [ST] Good music brilliantly performed, whether you're listening through two speakers or eight.

Hans GÁL (1890-1987) Piano Concerto Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) Piano Concerto No. 22 - Sarah Beth Briggs (piano) Royal Northern Sinfonia/Kenneth Woods, Bradley Creswick rec. 2016 AVIE AV2358 [68:51] [SG] Gál’s stunning Concerto given a winning performance. An exciting discovery.

George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Rhapsody in Blue, Piano Concerto, Variations on ‘I Got Rhythm’, Preludes - Mark Bebbington (piano) Royal PO/Leon Botstein rec. 2015 SOMM SOMMCD260-2 [67.47 + 17.30] [IL] A fresh, breezy penetrating look at three Gershwin works for piano and orchestra.

Olivier GREIF (1950-2000) Sonate de Requiem, Piano Trio - Emmanuelle Bertrand (cello) Pascal Amoyel (piano) Antje Weithaas (violin) rec. 2005 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC901900 [62:04] [BBa] Beautifully-crafted music of lasting worth which, once grasped, will not be easily forgotten.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Lyric Pieces - Edward Rosser (piano) rec. 2012 CONNOISSEUR SOCIETY CD4276 [77:46] [BR] The best Grieg recitals combine an intimate artistic confession by the performer with a close affinity for the composer’s spirit - this CD is one of the best.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Messiah - Julia Doyle (soprano) Lawrence Zazzo (counter-tenor) Ch Bayerischen Rundfunks, B'Rock – Belgian Baroque O Ghent/Peter Dijkstra rec. 2014 BR KLASSIK 900510 [72.29 + 63.29] [MC] Excellent recording … magnificently performed.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Duetti e Terzetti italiani - La Risonanza/Fabio Bonizzoni rec. 2014 GLOSSA GCD921517 [61:10] [BW] The latest volume in a very fine series of recordings of music that ought to be better known.

Kenneth HESKETH (b. 1968) Through Magic Casements, Horae, Notte Oscura, Japanese Miniatures - Clare Hammond (piano) rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2193 SACD [66:37] [DC] Awards await this remarkable release.

Charles IVES (1874-1954) Symphony 2 Elliott CARTER (1908-2012) Instances George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) An American in Paris - Seattle Symphony/Ludovic Morlot rec. 2011/13 SEATTLE SYMPHONY MEDIA SSM1003 [64:58] Charles IVES Symphonies 3 & 4, The Unanswered Question, Central Park in the Dark - Seattle Chorale & Symphony/Ludovic Morlot rec. 2014/15 SEATTLE SYMPHONY MEDIA SSM1009 [71:42] [DM] Outstanding Ives, superbly played, sung and recorded; even the fillers are excellent.

Charles IVES (1874-1954) New England Holidays, Central Park in the Dark, Three Places in New England,The Unanswered Question - Melbourne SO/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2015 CHANDOS CHSA5163 SACD [72:27] [JFL] An all-encompassing experience … frankly the best disc of orchestral Ives I’ve yet heard.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Jenůfa - Michaela Kaune, Will Hartmann, Ladislav Egr, Deutsche Oper O Berlin/Donald Runnicles rec. 2014 ARTHAUS MUSIK Blu-ray 109070 [131:00] [ST] Probably now the top choice.

JOSQUIN Des Prés (c.1440-1521) Missa di dadi; Missa une mousse de Biscaye - The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips GIMELL CDGIM048 [71:13] [BW] A very worthy successor to earlier Tallis Scholars offerings.

Graeme KOEHNE (b. 1956) Forty Reasons to be Cheerful, The Persistence of Memory, Divertissement, Between Two Worlds, Time is a River - Tasmanian SO/Richard Mills rec. 2004-14 ABC CLASSICS 4811480 [73:12] [DJB] Beautifully crafted, engaging, stylish and moving.

György KURTÁG (b.1926) Complete String Quartets - Molinari Qt rec. 2014 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD2 2705 [60:38] [SG] An appealing release for the adventurous. A revelation.

Hugo de LANTINS (d.1430) & Arnold de LANTINS (d.1432) Secular Works - Le Miroir de Musique/Baptiste Romain rec. 2014 RICERCAR RIC365 [67.07] [GH] Sweet harmonies and an increasing emphasis on melody.

Pierre de LA RUE (c.1452–1518) Masses; Magnificat; Salve Regina -  Brabant Ensemble/Stephen Rice rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68150 [78:52] [BW] A very welcome addition to the discography of Pierre de La Rue and to the now substantial representation of The Brabant Ensemble.

Jean-Marie LECLAIR (1697-1764) Scylla et Glaucus - Emöke Barath, Anders J. Dahlin, Les Nouveaux Caractčres/Sébastien d’Hérin rec. 2014 ALPHA 960 [3 CDs: 159:38] [SSi] This is a wonderful example of French baroque art.

Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919) Zazŕ - Ermonela Jaho, Riccardo Massi, BBC SO & Singers/Maurizio Benini rec. 2015 OPERA RARA ORC55 [72:02 + 63:59] [MC] Opera Rara has made an inspired choice with Leoncavallo’s Zazŕ which I hope will lead to a number of fully staged revivals.

Emperor LEOPOLD I (1640-1705) Paradisi Gloria - Cappella Murensis; Les Cornets Noirs/Johannes Strobl - rec. 2015 AUDITE 97.540 [75:37] [BW] Excellent performances of beautiful music composed by a music-loving emperor.

Jehan de LESCUREL (fl.c.1320)The Love Songs - Ens Céladon/Paulin Bündgen rec. 2015 RICERCAR RIC366 [76.30] [GH] Music that is personal, very beautifully shaped, very secular, often melismatic and elegant.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Transcendental - Daniil Trifonov (piano) rec. 2015 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 5529 [66:04 + 51:28] [SG] Top-drawer playing in every respect.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Complete Piano Music, Vol. 42: Paganini Studies - Goran Filipec (piano) rec. 2015 Liszt NAXOS 8.573458 [69:20] [JWe] He is clearly a pianist to listen out for.

Pietro Antonio LOCATELLI (1695-1764) Complete Edition - Ens Violini Capricciosi/Igor Ruhadze; Musica ad Rhenum/Jed Wentz rec. 1995-2014 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94358 [21 CDs: 20:45:00] [JV] This is a major achievement and the first attempt to do Locatelli real justice.

Henry MADIN (1698-1748) Te Deum & Diligam te, Domine - Les Cris de Paris/Geoffroy Jourdain, Stradivaria/Daniel Cuiller rec. 2015 ALPHA 963 [69:09] [JV] One can easily imagine that Madin's compositions were received with enthusiasm.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 1 - Bavarian RSO/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2014 BR KLASSIK 900143 [53:25] [DM] An electrifying Mahler First, superbly well played and recorded; one of the best thing I’ve heard this year.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 3 - Norma Proctor (contralto), Ambrosian Singers, London SO/Jascha Horenstein rec. 1970 UNICORN-KANCHANA UKCD2006 [42:47 + 54:28] [JQ] One of the greatest of all Mahler recordings returns to the catalogue.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No 10 - International Mahler O/Yoel Gamzou rec. live 24-25 November, 2011 WERGO WER5122-2 [79:29] [RMo] Every serious Mahlerian will want to hear this.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No 10 - International Mahler O/Yoel Gamzou rec. 2011 WERGO WER5122-2 [79:29] [MB] This is an important, if imperfect, release.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 10 - Seattle Symphony/Thomas Dausgaard rec.2015 SEATTLE SYMPHONY MEDIA SSM1011 [71:54] [RMo] This has a strong claim to being the best Cooke version on record.

Johann Simon MAYR (1763-1845) Saffo - Andrea Lauren Brown, Jaewon Yun (sopranos) Markus Schäfer (tenor) Bavarian State Opera Ch, Simon Mayr Ch, Concerto de Bassus/Franz Hauk rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.660367-68 [60:56 + 60:28] [DCh] What’s not to like?

Simon MAYR (1763–1845) Requiem - Simon Mayr Ch & Ens/Franz Hauk rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573419-20 [70:09 + 46:15] [GF] So much care, love and commitment behind this production.

Erkki MELARTIN (1875-1937) Traumgesicht, Marjatta, The Blue Pearl - Soile Isokoski (soprano) Finnish RSO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2015 ONDINE ODE 1283-2 [56:22] [JQ] An enterprising and excellent disc: an ideal introduction to the music of Erkki Melartin.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) String Quartets Nos 3 & 5 - Parker Qt rec. 2015 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6327 [61.52] [MW] Inspired, energetic playing which goes to the heart of Mendelssohn’s genius.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) String Quartets Nos 5 & 6 - Escher String Qt rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2160 SACD [71:17] [SG] Highly accomplished playing, captured with stunning immediacy.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Ein Sommernachtstraum Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Symphonie fantastique - Deborah York (soprano) Stella Doufexis (mezzo) Berlin PO/Claudio Abbado rec. 2013 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS BPHR160081 [2 CDs: 107:00 + 1 Blu-ray: 75:00] [JQ] The Berliner Philharmoniker’s handsome tribute to a great conductor.

Tobias MICHAEL (1592-1657) Musicalische Seelenlust  - Ensemble Polyharmonique/Alexander Schneider rec 2014 RAUMKLANG RK3403 [58:20] [JV] This is one of the finest and most interesting discs I have heard lately.

Henry du MONT (1610-1684) O Mysterium - Motets & Élévations pour la Chapelle de Louis XIV - Ens Correspondances/Sébastien Daucé rec. 2015 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902241 [71:18] [JV] Incisive performances of pieces by a composer who deserves much more attention than he has received so far.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Vespro della Beata Vergine - Monteverdi Ch, English Baroque Soloists, Les Pages du Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2014 ALPHA 705 DVD/Blu-ray [105:00] [JQ] A superb and thrilling performance.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) String Quintets - Chilingirian Qt, Yuko Inoue (viola) rec. 2006 CRD 3523 [61:12] [RMo] I cannot fault the playing or imagine it being done better.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Choral WorksDanish National Choirs/Michael Schřnwandt, Phillip Faber & Suzanne Wendt rec. 2014/15 DA CAPO 8.226112 [63.29] [MW] Sheer bliss.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) The Organ Works - Bine Bryndorf (organ), Torsten Nielsen (baritone) rec. 2016 DACAPO RECORDS 6.220635 SACD [78:14] [DM] Bryndorf may be late to the party, but it was well worth the wait; peerless playing and stellar sonics make this a must-have for organ buffs and Nielsen fans alike.

Per NŘRGĹRD (b. 1932) Symphonies Nos 2 & 6 rec. 2015 DACAPO 6.220645 SACD [54:21] Symphonies Nos 4 & 5 - Oslo PO/John Storgĺrds rec. 2015 DACAPO 6.220646 SACD [55:52] [SG] Stunning.

Georg ÖSTERREICH (1664-1735) Psalms and Cantatas - Weser-Renaissance Bremen/Manfred Cordes rec. 2014 CPO 777 944-2 [67:04] [JV] Cordes has brought together a fine quintet of singers.

Jacques PAISIBLE (c1656-1721) Complete Recorder Sonatas - Michael Hell (recorder), Eva Maria Pollerus (harpsichord) rec. 2011 PALADINO MUSIC PMR0071 [68:40 + 60:42] [JV] This first recording of the complete music for recorder and basso continuo by Paisible is highly important.

Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935) Da pacem Domine - Latvian Radio Ch/Sigvards Klava rec. 2016 ONDINE ODE1286-2 [72:38] [GF] Marvellous throughout. I can’t imagine this music better sung.

Ignace Joseph PLEYEL (1757-1831) The Authentic Qt rec. 2015 HUNGAROTON HCD32783 [62:04] [SSi] A wonderful fusion of mid European and Scottish folk idioms. A remarkable disc.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Piano solos and duos - Lucille Chung, Alessio Bax (piano) rec. 2015 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD455 [62:10] [DM] Chung is fluent in the solos and fiery in the duos; a sonic treat, too.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Concertos, Sonata for solo violin - Vadim Gluzman (violin), Estonian Ntl SO/Neeme Järvi rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2142 SACD [60.21] [DBi] A quite extraordinarily good disc.

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) Devotional songs and anthems - La Ręveuse rec. 2014 MIRARE MIR283 [70:03] [JV] A most fascinating and highly impressive disc which sheds light on a less familiar part of Purcell's oeuvre.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) All-night Vigil, The Theotokos - Netherlands Radio Ch/Kaspars Putniņš rec. 2012 BIS-2039 SACD [60:20] All-night Vigil - Phoenix & Kansas City Chorales/Charles Bruffy rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHSA5148 SACD [75:34] [DM] The Dutch bring emotional intensity to the Vigil, the Americans weight and beauty; you must hear both.

Einojuhani RAUTAVAARA (b. 1928) Rubáiyát, Into the Heart of Light, Balada, Songs from Rasputin - Gerald Finley (bass-baritone) Mika Pohjonen (tenor) Helsinki Music Centre Ch, Helsinki PO/John Storgĺrds rec. 2015 ONDINE ODE12742 [59:29] [RB] A fine recording lacking nothing in impact and subtlety. Complements some glorious music-making.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) L’Heure espagnole - Suzanne Danco (mezzo) Jean Giraudeau (tenor) John Cameron (baritone) André Vessières (bass) BBC SO/Bruno Maderna rec. 1960 TESTAMENT SBT1511[49:20] [SG] Using pristine master tapes, this captivating performance is given a new lease of life.

Max REGER (1873-1916) Complete Organ Works - Martin Schmeding (organ) rec. 2014/16 CYBELE RECORDS 051500 [17 SACDs: 19:24:00] [DC] A set to cherish for a lifetime.

Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868) La donna del lago - Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Flórez, Metropolitan Opera O & Ch/Michele Mariotti rec. 2015 ERATO 2564 604699 Blu-ray [165.00] [MC] Beautifully performed and filmed La Donna del Lago presented at its finest.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Il Viaggio A Rheims - Alessandra Marianelli (soprano) Bruno Praticň (bass) Virtuoso Brunensis/Antonino Fogliani rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.660382-84 [3 CDs: 156:49] [RJF] This recording, taken from live performances, has a welcome vivacity to enliven the humour.

Alec ROTH (b 1948) A Time to Dance; Magnificat and Nunc dimittis; Men and Angels - Ex Cathedra/Jeffrey Skidmore rec. 2014 HYPERION CDA68144 [71:52] [JQ] Highly entertaining and a splendid recording.

Edmund RUBBRA (1901-1986) Complete Chamber Music and Songs with Harp - Tracey Chadwell (soprano) Danielle Perrett (harp) Timothy Gill (cello) rec. 1995/97 LYRITA SRCD.353 [67.23] [MW] A lovely CD for enthusiasts of music for harp and for lovers of English song. An essential purchase.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Piano Concertos 2 & 5 - Louis Schwizgebel (piano) BBC SO/Fabien Gabel, Martyn Brabbins rec. 2014/15 APARTÉ AP112 [50:04] [DM] I don’t expect to hear better accounts of these concertos any time soon; yes, Schwizgebel really is that good.

Erik SATIE (1866-1925) Socrate - Barbara Hannigan (soprano) Reinbert de Leeuw (piano) rec. 2015 WINTER & WINTER 910 234-2 [50:43] [SSi] If you only buy one disc of Satie this year, it should be this one.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Dimitris Tiliakos (baritone) Vassilis Varvaresos (piano) rec. 2015 NAVIS CLASSICS NC16008 [76:27] [SG] In a fiercely competitive field, this visionary interpretation and epic reading strongly makes its mark.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quintet, Lieder - Quatuor Ebčne, Gautier Capuçon (cello) Matthias Goerne (baritone) Laurčne Durantel (double bass) rec. 2015 ERATO 2564 648761 [72:06] [LW] A superlative account of Schubert’s String Quintet makes this indispensable.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Schubertiade - Anima Eterna Brugge/Jos van Immerseel (piano/director) rec. 2014 ALPHA 216 [4 CDs: 261:38] [JFL] In one word: delightful!

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Der Wanderer - Roderick Williams (baritone) Iain Burnside (piano) rec. 2015 DELPHIAN DCD34170 [72:41] [JQ] A most intelligently planned Schubert programme, superbly performed.

Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942) Chamber Music - Spectrum Concerts Berlin rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573525 [68:16] [BSt] A very fine disc, especially at bargain price.

A.H. SCHULTZEN (1681-1742) Recorder Sonatas - Barbara Heindlmeier (recorder) Ens La Ninfea rec. 2014 RAUMKLANG RK3402 [70:33] [JV] This is a disc of major importance.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Cello Concerto, Piano Trio No. 1 - Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello) Isabelle Faust (violin) Alexander Melnikov (fortepiano) Freiburger Barock O/Pablo Heras-Casado rec. 2014 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902197 [54:53] [ST] Among the most important of recent recordings of the composer's music.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Cello Concerto, Symphony No. 2 -Jan Vogler (cello) Dresden Fest O/Ivor Bolton rec. 2016 SONY CLASSICS 88985 372122 [58.44] [MC] This wonderful recording on period instruments has hardly been off my CD player since it arrived.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphonies 5, 8 & 9, Hamlet Suite - Boston SO/Andris Nelsons rec. 2015 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 5201 [157:35] [JQ] A highly distinguished Shostakovich set from Andris Nelsons.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) & David MATTHEWS (b. 1943) Piano Quintets - Martin Cousin (piano) Villiers String Qt rec. 2015 SOMM SOMMCD0157 [52.16] [IL] Sheer delight. These fifty-two golden minutes represent money very well spent.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) & Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936) Violin Concertos - Nicola Benedetti (violin) Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits rec. 2015 DECCA 478 8758 [59:05] [JQ] Two highly contrasting violin concertos, both of them superbly played.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Cello Concertos Nos 1 & 2 - Alisa Weilerstein (cello) Bavarian RSO/Pablo Heras-Casado rec. 2015 DECCA 483 0835 [60.53] [DBi] Two great concertos magnificently performed. For immediate purchase!

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Cello Concertos 1 & 2 - Alisa Weilerstein (cello) Bavarian RSO/Pablo Heras-Casado rec. 2015 DECCA 483 0835 [60.53] [MC] Performances of real distinction.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Michelangelo Suite Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Kol Nidre - Ildar Abdrazakov (bass) Chicago SO & Ch/Riccardo Muti rec. 2012 CSO RESOUND CSOR9011602 [56:50] [JQ] A distinguished addition to the Shostakovich discography with a rare Schoenberg coupling.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphonies 3, 6 & 7 - Minnesota O/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2015 BIS BIS2006 SACD [82:00] [GPJ] Magnificent and authoritative performances of these three great symphonies.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphonies Nos 3, 6 & 7 - Minnesota O/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2015 BIS BIS2006 SACD [82:00] [JQ] Outstanding Sibelius performances, outstandingly recorded.

Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Czech Dances Books 1 & 2, On the seashore – Garrick Ohlsson (piano) rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68062 [62:13] [DM] Lesser-known Smetana played with all the ardour and advocacy it needs; the sound is class-leading, too.

Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) String Quartets Nos 5 & 8 - Dante Qt rec. 2015 SOMM SOMMCD0160 [67.12] [MC] There is so much to admire in this fine Somm album.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Ein Heldenleben, Macbeth - Frankfurt RSO/Andrés Orozco-Estrada rec. 2014/15 PENTATONE PTC5186582 SACD [66.23] [MB] One of the best Strauss discs I have heard in years.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Threni, Requiem Canticles - Collegium Vocale Gent, Royal Flemish PO/Philippe Herreweghe rec. 2014 PHI LPH020 [47:22] [SG] Comparative rarities, stylishly performed.

Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) King Roger - Mariusz Kwieceń (baritone) Georgia Jarman (soprano) Saimir Pirgu (tenor) Ch & O Royal Opera Covent Garden/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2015 OPUS ARTE Blu-ray OABD7162D [105.00] [PCG] Anyone who loves this opera and indeed anyone who has yet to come to know it can be enthusiastically pointed in the direction of this issue.

Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770) Cantabile e suonabile - David Plantier (violin) Annabelle Luis (cello) rec. 2014 AGOGIQUE AGO020 [68:15] [JV] If you love violin music, don't miss this.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 4 - Arctic Philharmonic/Christian Lindberg rec. 2015 BIS BIS-8007 Download [41:51] [DM] This is the most exhilarating Tchaikovsky Fourth I’ve heard in ages; roll on the next instalment.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies 1, 2 & 5 - Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2014 ONYX 4150 [74:06 + 43:51] [ST] This impressed me mightily - bring on Volume 2!

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Fantaisies pour la Basse de Violle - Thomas Fritzsch (viola da gamba) rec. 2015 COVIELLO CLASSICS COV91601 [84:46] [JV] This is a most fascinating recording of twelve excellent pieces for the viola da gamba.

Louis THIRION (1879-1966) Piano Trio, String Quartet - Laurent Wagschal (piano) Solenne Paďdassi (violin) Sébastien van Kuijk (cello) Quatuor Stanislas rec. 2015 TIMPANI 1C1237 [51:55] [SG] Two captivating chamber works from a long-forgotten musician whose compositional career was sadly short-lived.

Marcel TYBERG (1893-1944) Masses Nos. 1 and 2 - Christopher Jacobson (organ); South Dakota Chorale/Brian A. Schmidt rec. 2016 PENTATONE PTC5186584 SACD [64:36] [DM] Glorious music that burns with a steady, beckoning light; class-leading sonics, too.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphonies 2 & 8 - Royal Liverpool PO/Andrew Manze rec. 2015 ONYX 4155 [76:28] [SG] Terrific performances and convincing interpretations. I can’t wait for the next instalment.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphonies 2 & 8 - Royal Liverpool PO/Andrew Manze rec. 2015 ONYX 4155 [76.28] [MC] With Andrew Manze conducting the RLPO the legacy of performing Vaughan Williams is in reliable hands on the evidence of this outstanding release.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Discoveries - Roderick Williams (baritone) Jennifer Johnston (mezzo) BBC SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2015 ALBION RECORDS ALBCD028 [64:23] [JQ] An important collection of Vaughan Williams discoveries. The Three Nocturnes make it a mandatory purchase.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Les vępres siciliennes - Lianna Haroutounian, Bryan Hymel, Ch & O Royal Opera House/Antonio Pappano rec. 2013 WARNER CLASSICS Blu-ray 2564 616431 [182.00] [MC] A lavishly theatrical spectacle and a musical indulgence well worth experiencing.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Great Verdi Voices Munich RO rec. 1962-84 BR KLASSIK 900313 [73:51] [ST] A lovely companion to the label's Great Wagner Voices disc. If they’re not all masterful then they’re all interesting and most are great fun.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Aida - Marco Spotti (bass) Ekaterina Semenchuk (mezzo) Jonas Kaufmann (tenor) O e Coro dell'Accademia Nazionale Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano rec. February 2015 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 610663 [3 CDs: 145:36] [MC] An Aida to live with and to treasure.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) La Forza del Destino - Anja Harteros (soprano) Jonas Kaufmann (tenor) Bayerisches Staatsorchester/Asher Fisch rec. 2014 SONY CLASSICAL 88875160649 [2 DVDs: 178 mins] [ST] Unless you only wish for traditional staging, this is now the one to go for.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) The Complete Works rec. 1959-2013 DECCA [RJF] Perfect for the recent opera enthusiast, whilst avid Verdi enthusiasts have the opportunity to add a diversity of performances to their collection at a modest cost, many with the benefit of Decca’s superb recording qualities.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Il Cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione - L’Arte dell’Arco/Federico Guglielmo rec. 2014 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95045 [54:49 + 53:56] [BW] One of the very best recordings of ‘The Four Seasons’ and excellent versions of the other eight Op.8 concertos.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Laudate! - Johannette Zomer (soprano) Tulipa Consort rec. 2015 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS38216 [71:40] [MR] An outstanding début disc from a singer-led ensemble.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Parsifal - Andreas Schager (tenor) Anja Kampe (soprano) Wolfgang Koch, René Pape (bass-baritones) Staatskapelle Berlin, Staatsopern Ch/Daniel Barenboim rec. 2015 BEL AIR CLASSIQUES Blu-ray BAC428 [252:00] [ST] A fresh take on the opera that will challenge and provoke you.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Der Freischütz - Adrian Eröd, Albert Dohme, Sara Jakubiak, Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2015 C MAJOR 733108 [2 DVDs: 149:00] [MC] A must-see production … a tremendous spectacle both for the sheer quality of the performances and the remarkable sonic and visual pyrotechnics.

Matthias WECKMANN (1616 - 1674) Complete Works - Ricercar Consort, Cappella Sancti Michaelis/Erik Van Nevel, La Fenice/Jean Tubéry Siebe Henstra (harpsichord) Bernard Foccroulle (organ) rec. 1992-2013 RICERCAR RIC369 [5 CDs: 372:19] [JV] This set is the perfect way to become acquainted with, and be impressed by, Weckmann's art.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) The Passenger - Michelle Breedt, Roberto Saccŕ, Elena Kelessidi, Vienna SO/Teodor Currentzis rec. 2010 ARTHAUS MUSIK 109080 Blu-ray [161.00 + 29.00 bonus content] [MC] Crushingly powerful and deeply affecting.

Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) Lieder - Sophie Karthäuser (soprano) Eugene Asti (piano) rec. 2015 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902245 [60:22] [GF] Should be heard by every Lieder enthusiast.

Eugčne YSAŸE (1858-1931) Works for Violin and Orchestra - Svetlin Roussev, Amaury Coeytaux (violin) Ličge PO/Jean-Jacques Kantorow rec. 2015 MUSIQUE EN WALLONIE MEW1681 [69:45] [NB] One of those recordings which opens up repertoire and performers that you were previously ignorant about but are vastly enriched for now knowing.

Jan Dismas ZELENKA (1679-1745) Italian Arias - Hana Blažiková (soprano) Markéta Cukrová (alto) Tomáš Šelc (bass) Ens Tourbillon/Petr Wagner (viola da gamba) rec. 2015 ACCENT ACC24306 [69:11] [SSi] An excellent disc … one of the finest of Zelenka’s music that I have heard for some time.

The Aeolian Organ at Duke University Chapel Christopher Jacobson (organ) Amalgam Brass Ensemble rec. 2015 PENTATONE PTC5186577 SACD [65:56] [DM] A fabulous instrument, superbly played and recorded; an absolute must for organ fans.

America Again - Lara Downes (piano) rec. 2016 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92207 [66:31] [DM] Spirit-lifting music, essayed with great feeling and a touching sense of purpose; the DSD download sets new standards for piano recordings.

Jussi Björling (tenor) Copenhagen Concert/The Voice of Firestone - Bertil Bokstedt (piano) Voice of Firestone O & Ch/Howard Barlow rec. 1952/59 JSP RECORDS JSP682 [67:50] [GF] The beauty of his silvery voice is unmistakable. A quality issue that should be in every Jussi Björling collection.

Lawrence Brownlee (tenor) Allegro io son - Bel canto arias by Donizetti & Bellini - Kaunas City SO/Constantine Orbelian rec. 2016 DELOS DE3515 [62:15] [RMo] Singing of the highest order.

Khatia Buniatishvili (piano) Kaleidoscope - Works by Mussorgsky, Ravel & Stravinsky - rec. 2015 SONY 88875 170032 [60:31] [NB] A disc of flair, individual insight and not a little controversy.

Cançons i danses catalanes Works by Llobet, Manén & Mompou - Franz Halász (guitar) rec. 2014 BIS BIS-2092 SACD [60:52] [DM] Immaculate, penetrating musicianship, with a sound to match; magic.

Nicole Car (soprano) The Kiss - Australian Opera & Ballet O/Andrea Molino rec. 2015 ABC CLASSICS 481 2371 [74:29] [DHu] I’m trying to hold back on the superlatives – there may be even better to come.

Carolus IV Rex et imperator - Schola Gregoriana Pragensis/David Eben rec. 2015 SUPRAPHON SU4193-2 [69:13] [JV] A highly fascinating musical document of the Bohemian Golden Age of the 14th century.

Cello Rising Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (cello) Karl Nyhlin (guitar) Björn Gäfvert (harpsichord) rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2214 SACD [70:11] [JV] One of the best cello discs I have heard in recent years.

The Cello in Spain Boccherini and other 18th-century virtuosi - Josetxu Obregón (cello) La Ritirata rec. 2014 GLOSSA GCD923103 [57:05] [JV] This disc is of great importance and Josetxu Obregón is a brilliant performer.

Conversations Sonatas & Concerti by Quentin & Guillemain - Nevermind rec. 2015 ALPHA CLASSICS 235 [74:09] [JV] Musical conversations at the highest level.

As Dreams Choral works by Janson, Lachenmann, Nørgård, Saariaho & Xenakis - Norwegian Soloists’ Ch, Oslo Sinfonietta/Grete Pedersen rec. 2014/15 BIS BIS-2139 SACD [61:08] [GPJ] A stunning achievement by all concerned. Difficult, challenging music, performed with brilliance and dedication.

Youri Egorov (piano) Autumn Songs - rec. 1974-87 ET'CETERA KTC1520 [123:39] [SG] A selection of broadcasts from the archives of Amsterdam Radio, showcasing the artistry and versatility of a great pianist.

The First Beauty Music for wind octet - Oslo Kammerakademi/David Friedemann Strunck rec. 2013/14 LAWO LWC1093 [75:03] [GPJ] Challenging music superbly played on this beautifully recorded disc.

L’Art de Maurice Gendron (cello) rec. 1946-1969 DECCA 4823849 [14 CDs: 960:11] [SG] An outstanding retrospective. To everything he plays, Gendron brings formidable technique, expressive tone and an impeccable sense of phrasing.

Granada 1013-1502 Hespčrion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya/Jordi Savall rec. 2013 ALIA VOX SACD AVSA9915 [78:39] [ST] A breathtaking achievement.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone) Scenes from operas by Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky & Rubinstein - State Academic SO/Evgeny Svetlanov, Constantine Orbelian rec. 2015 DELOS DE3517 [53:53] [GF] Of the many recordings with Dmitri Hvorostovsky I have collected through the years the present one will have an honoured place on my shelves.

Journey: 200 Years of Harpsichord Music Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord) rec. 2014 LINN CKD570 SACD [68:50] [BW] A superb celebration of Trevor Pinnock’s threescore and ten.

Leonidas Kavakos (violin) Virtuoso - Enrico Pace (piano) rec. 2015 DECCA 478 9377 [83:47] [MR] Matchless virtuosity in a programme of encores, elevated into musical substance by Kavakos’s extraordinary gifts.

Monique de La Bruchollerie (piano) 100th Anniversary Edition rec. 1943-66 MELOCLASSIC MC1034 [9 CDs + 1 DVD: 612:23] [SG] I can think of no better anniversary tribute to a long-forgotten pianist.

L'arpa Barberini Roberta Invernizzi (soprano) Margret Köll (harp) rec. 2014 ACCENT ACC24310 [64:11] [JV] An expressive and penetrating interpretation of fascinating repertoire.

The Lion’s Ear Tribute to Pope Leo X - La Morra rec. 2015 RAMÉE RAM1403 [65:35] [GPu] Teaches and delights in equal measure.

Meditatio Schola cantorum Reykjavicensis/Hörđur Áskelsson rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2200 SACD [58:03] [JQ] Truly an outstanding disc.

Les Menus Plaisirs de Louis XIV HARMONIA MUNDI HMX2908717.26 [10 CDs: 12:29:43] [ST] Two thumbs up both for musical and historical reasons … a fantastic bargain and one to snap up while you have the chance.

Music of the Spheres Part Songs of the British Isles - Tenebrae/Nigel Short rec. 2010/15 BENE ARTE SIGCD904 [65:04] [ST] Whatever your musical tastes, you'll find something in this range of repertoire not just to enjoy but to revel in.

Nocturnal Variations Songs by Schubert, Mahler, Berg & Britten - Ruby Hughes (soprano) Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2014 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD098 [59:49] [GPJ] A truly outstanding disc from this talented young duo.

Nostalgia Stephanie Houtzeel (mezzo-soprano) Charles Spencer (piano) rec. 2014 CAPRICCIO C5262 [50.45] [MW] A great recital – one to treasure.

Overtures from the British Isles Vol. 2  - BBC Ntl O Wales/Rumon Gamba rec. 2015 CHANDOS CHAN10898 [81.18] [IL] A thoroughly enjoyable concert of British light music.

The Peterhouse Partbooks Vols 1-4 Blue Heron/Scott Metcalfe rec. 2009-13 BLUE HERON BHCD1002-5 [63.48] [GH] I cannot praise these recordings too highly. I can say no more.

Aksel Rykkvin (treble) Aksel! Arias by Bach, Handel & Mozart -  O of the Age of Enlightenment/Nigel Short rec. 2016 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD435 [58:19] [GF] If you are going to buy just one more CD this year, make sure that it is this one.

Im schönen Strome Heine lieder by Franz, Liszt & Schumann - Christian Immler (baritone) Georges Starobinski (piano) rec. 2014 BIS BIS-2143 SACD [67:35] [GF] One of the best Lieder discs that have come my way in recent times.

Shakespeare Songs Ian Bostridge (tenor) Sir Antonio Pappano (piano) Elizabeth Kenny (lute) Michael Collins (clarinet) Lawrence Power (viola) Adam Walker (flute) rec. 2016 WARNER CLASSICS 9029594473 [66:54] [ST] Throughout this beautifully curated disc, Bostridge reminds you why he is such a great recitalist.

Grigory Sokolov (piano) Works by Beethoven, Brahms, Rameau & Schubert - rec. 2013 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4795426 [65:06 + 73:20] [SG] Incandescent playing from a charismatic player.

Stances du Cid Cyril Auvity (haute-contre) L’Yriade rec. 2015 GLOSSA GCD923601 [59:32] [SSi] Offers a chance to hear a collection of airs de cour, in a performance by a group of musicians that I would pay a lot of money to see perform these works.

Urgency of Now Rhythm Art Duo, Vocal Art Ens Sweden/Jan Yngwe rec. 2014 FOOTPRINT RECORDS FRCD080 [60.57] [JQ] 61 minutes of outstanding singing.

Views from Ararat Works by Saygun, Babadschanjan & Bagdassarian - Rebekka Hartmann (violin) Margarita Oganesjan (piano) rec. 2014 FARAO CLASSICS B108086 [83:20] [SG] Hauntingly evocative music. Full marks all round.

Viri Galilaei Favourite Anthems from Merton - Ch of Merton College, Oxford/Benjamin Nicholas, Peter Phillips rec. 2015 DELPHIAN DCD34174 [75:36] [JQ] A very fine disc indeed, confirming that Merton College is home to one of the very best British collegiate choirs.

A Voice from Heaven British Choral Masterpieces - Ch The King’s Consort/Robert King rec. 2016 VIVAT 113 [68:28] [JQ] A compelling programme, superbly performed.


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