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Recordings of the Month 2017

Thomas ADČS (b. 1971) Asyla, Tevot, Polaris, Brahms - Samuel Dale Johnson (baritone) London SO/Thomas Adčs rec. 2016 LSO LIVE LSO0798 BD-A/SACD [62:55] [LW] Thomas Adčs’s orchestral trilogy in authoritative performances and stunning sound.

Eyvind ALNĆS (1872-1932) Symphonies Nos 1 & 2 - Latvian Ntl SO/Terje Mikkelsen rec. 2009 STERLING CDS 1084-2 SACD [77.14] [PCG] Both these symphonies are works of real substance and, happily, they get fine performances in excellent recorded sound.

Sir Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006) The Magic of Malcolm Arnold Vol. 1 - The Wallace Collection, Ntl Youth Brass Band of Scotland/Richard Evans, Russell Gray, Bede Williams rec. 2016 THE WALLACE COLLECTION TWC-FR2016-001 [62.28 + 31.06] [MW] An inspired collection of some of Arnold’s most inspired writing.

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) Cantatas - Cantus & Capella Thuringia/Bernhard Klapprott rec. 2014 CPO 777 958-2 [73.08] [DBi] A remarkable addition to the CD catalogue. Worth anyone's money.

Johann Bernhard BACH (1676‒1749) Ouvertures - L’Achéron/François Joubert-Caillet (bass viol) rec. 2016 RICERCAR RIC573 [76:50] [NH] Virtuosic but sensitive performances that do full justice to the music.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cantatas BWV54, 82 & 170 - Iestyn Davies (counter-tenor) Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68111 [64:51] [JQ] A simply outstanding Bach disc.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations - Beatrice Rana (piano) rec. 2016 WARNER CLASSICS 9029 588018 [77.45] [DJB] I suspect this will be the best recording I will hear all year.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Keyboard works - Rafał Blechacz (piano) rec. 2012-15 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4795534 [65:54] [SG] This will probably go to the top of my list of Recordings of the Year.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 - 1750) Dialogue Cantatas - Hana Blažíková (soprano) Dominik Wörner (bass) Kirchheimer BachConsort/Alfredo Bernardini (oboe) rec. 2016 CPO 555 068-2 [71:00] [JV] Probably the best available recording of these cantatas right now.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cantatas for Soprano - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Freiburg Baroque O/Petra Müllejans rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902252 [63:03] [BW] Sampson need fear no competition in these great works.

Wilhelm Friedemann BACH (1710-1784) Complete Harpsichord Music - Claudio Astronio (harpsichord, organ) rec. 2015/17 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94240 [6 CDs: 6:43:08] [JV] Claudio Astronio has put much effort into this project, and it has paid off.

Jean-Baptiste BARRIÈRE (1707-1747) & Bernard de BURY (1720-1785) Sonates et Suites pour le clavecin - Luca Quintavalle (harpsichord) rec. 2016 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95428 [79:43 + 79:56] [JV] The brilliance of Barrières pieces and the different features of Bury's harpsichord works is convincingly conveyed.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Complete String Quartets - Heath Qt rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM907661.62 [76:50 + 80:44] [ST] The Heath Quartet is uniquely sensitive to Bartók’s changing moods.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Missa Solemnis - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Mariann Beate Kielland (alto) Thomas Walker (tenor) David Wilson-Johnson (bass) Capella Amsterdam, O of the Eighteenth Century/Daniel Reuss rec. 2016 GLOSSA GCD921124 [75.03] [MW] A triumphant performance of Beethoven’s superhuman masterpiece.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Coriolan Overture, Symphony No. 3 - Berlin PO, Vienna PO/Wilhelm Furtwängler rec. 1943/44 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC488 [62:07] [RWM] Perhaps the greatest recording of the greatest symphony – restored to remarkable standards of fidelity.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Concerto, Romances Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Rondo - James Ehnes (violin) Royal Liverpool PO/Andrew Manze rec. 2016 ONYX 4167 [71:21] [ST] If you’re looking for a recent digital version of the Beethoven concerto, then I think this could well now be first choice.

Alban BERG (1885-1935) Wozzeck - Roman Trekel (baritone) Anne Schwanewilms (soprano) Houston SO/Hans Graf rec. NAXOS 8.660390-91 [36:22 & 61:30] [GPJ] A fine and very powerful Wozzeck from Houston, with Anne Schwanewilms magnificent and moving as Marie.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Béatrice et Bénédict - Stéphanie d’Oustrac, Paul Appleby, Glyndebourne Ch, London PO/Antonello Manacorda rec. 2016 OPUS ARTE Blu-ray OABD7219D [129 mins] [IL] A very worthwhile production of a comic opera that is seldom performed and little known except for its overture.

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von BIBER (1644-1704) Missa Alleluja, Nisi Dominus, Pastorella in A, Hic est panis - St. Florianer Sängerknaben, Ars Antiqua Austria/Gunar Letzbor (violin) rec. 2014/15 ACCENT ACC24325 [59:08] [JV] This disc is a treasure. Don't miss it.

Georges BIZET (1838-1875) Les Pęcheurs de perles - Diana Damrau (soprano) Matthew Polenzani (tenor) O & Ch Metropolitan Opera/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2016 ERATO DVD 9029 589361 [120 mins] [RJF] This tuneful opera by Bizet gets outstanding singing and a realistic, albeit updated, setting.

Georges BIZET (1838-1875) Les Pęcheurs de Perles - Mariusz Kwiezien (baritone) Diana Damrau (soprano) Metropolitan Opera Ch & O/Gianadrea Noseda rec. 2016 ERATO 9029589360 Blu-ray [120 mins] [PCG] A quite simply marvellous re-imagining of Bizet’s beautifully perfumed score.

Joseph Bodin de BOISMORTIER (1689-1755) Flute Sonatas & Suites - Musica ad Rhenum rec. 2015 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95366 [3 CDs: 180:37] [JV] Boismortier’s music needs outstanding and compelling performances, and that is exactly what we get here.

Nimrod BORENSTEIN (b. 1969) Orchestral works - Irmina Trynkos (violin) Oxford PO/Vladimir Ashkenazy rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHSA5209 SACD [56:45] [MW] A superb introduction to wonderfully enjoyable music - treat yourself!

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Alfred Deller, Jennifer Vyvyan, English Opera Group O/Benjamin Britten rec. 1960 TESTAMENT SBT21515 [71:09 + 66:40] [JQ] All Britten enthusiasts should seek out this set as a matter of urgency.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 4 - Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2015 PROFIL PH16064 [73.06] [MC] Unquestionably one of the finest Bruckner recordings I have heard.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 7 - Vienna SO/Yakov Kreizberg rec. 2004 PENTATONE PTC5186051 SACD [67:24] [DM] Bruckner Sevenths don’t come much better than this; one for the desert island.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 8 - Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2009 PROFIL PH10031 SACD [58:46 + 24:51] [MC] Awe-inspiring.

Joan Bautista José CABANILLES (1644-1712) Keyboard Music Vol. 1 - Timothy Roberts (organ) rec. 2016 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0391 [64:41] [BW] A most encouraging first volume: I can’t wait to hear the others in this series.

Giovanni Stefano CARBONELLI (1694-1773) Sonate da camera - Bojan Čičić (violin) Illyria Consort rec. 2016 DELPHIAN DCD34194 [63:46] [JV] Exciting music and exciting performances.

Elliott CARTER (1908-2012) Late Works - Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano) Colin Currie (percussion) Isabelle Faust (violin) Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello) Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, BBC SO/Oliver Knussen rec. 2015/16 ONDINE ODE1296-2 [74:42] [LW] Astounding late works of Elliott Carter in exceptional performances.

Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968) Piano works - Mark Bebbington (piano) rec. 2003 SOMM SOMMCD0172 [66.56] [IL] This collection of very colourful and evocative piano music is heartily recommended.

Girolamo CAVAZZONI (1506/12? - after 1577) Complete Organ Works - Ivana Valotti (organ) Gianluca Ferrarini (plainchant) rec. 2013 TACTUS TC510391 [68:06 + 78:32] [JV] A brilliant interpretation which carries the listener to the time Cavazzoni created his masterful organ music.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Late Works - Maurizio Pollini (piano) rec. 2015/16 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 6127 [54:37] [MG] Pollini’s masterful playing is generally faster, smoother and more varied than that of his younger contemporaries.

Roger Sacheverell COKE (1912-1972) Piano Concertos Nos 3, 4 & 5 - Simon Callaghan (piano) BBC Scottish SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68173 [69:09] [SG] Simon Callaghan's championing of this richly rewarding music is commendable.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Ariettes oubliées, La mer Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Pénélope, Pelléas et Mélisande - Magdalena Kožená (mezzo) Deutsches SO Berlin/Robin Ticciati rec. 2017 LINN CKD550 [68:00] [MC] A quite outstanding album, with distinguished contributions from all concerned.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Sonatas & Trio - Renaud Capuçon (violin) Bertrand Chamayou (piano) Edgar Moreau (cello) Emmanuel Pahud (flute) Gerard Caussé (viola) Marie-Pierre Langlamet (harp) rec. 2016-2017 ERATO 9029 773960 [65:37] [DJB] A star-studded lineup results in an exceptional outcome.

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) & Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Choral Music -  Carice Singers/George Parris rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573695 [71:40] [RB] A stunning disc in every aspect.

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) & Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Choral Music - Carice Singers/George Parris rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573695 [71:40] [MW] Outstanding British music in outstanding performances.

Bernard van DIEREN (1887-1936) Symphony No.1, Introit, Elegie - Rebecca Evans (soprano) Catherine Wyn-Rogers (alto) BBC Ntl O & Ch Wales/William Boughton rec. 2016 LYRITA SRCD357 [69:21] [SG] Long overdue, Lyrita have done van Dieren proud.

Ernst von DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Piano Quintet No. 2, Sextet - Ens Raro rec. 2016 SOLO MUSICA SM250 [54.22] [SG] Chamber music playing of the highest calibre.

Jonathan DOVE (b 1959) Nights not Spent Alone - Kitty Whately (mezzo) Simon Lepper (piano) rec. 2016 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD125 [71:15] [JQ] Fine songs by Jonathan Dove in compelling performances.

John DOWLAND (1563–1626) A Pleasing Melancholy - Emma Kirkby (soprano); Chelys Consort of Viols; James Akers (lute) rec. 2016 BIS BIS-2283 SACD [72:13] [BW] The top recommendation for Lachrimć except for those who prefer an instrumental-only collection; even they may well be won over by Emma Kirkby’s contribution.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Piano Quintet No. 2, String Quintet - Pavel Haas Qt rec. 2017 SUPRAPHON SU4195-2 [74:41] [PB] This is an outstanding recording which sets a new benchmark for these inspired pieces.

Joel ENGEL (1868-1927) Chamber Music & Folksongs - Rachel Calloway (mezzo) Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival Musicians rec. 2011/12 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0343 [58:42] [SG] A joy from start to finish.

Ēriks EŠENVALDS (b. 1977) The Doors of Heaven - Hannah Consenz (soprano) Portland State U String Ens & Chamber Ch/Ethan Sperry rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.579008 [58:37] [JQ] Anyone wanting to explore the extraordinary music of Ēriks Ešenvalds could start here.

Ferenc FARKAS (1905-2000) Music for Wind Ensemble - Budapest Wind Symphony/László Marosi rec. 2016 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0349 [76:23] [DM] Toccata really do have the magic touch when it comes to less-familiar repertoire; huzzahs all round!

Josef Bohuslav FOERSTER (1859-1951) & Pavel HAAS (1899-1944) Wind Quintets Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Mládí - Belfiato Quintet, Jindřich Pavliš (bass clarinet) rec. 2017 SUPRAPHON SU4230-2 [50:56] [GPJ] Three fascinating and rewarding works performed with supreme skill and musicianship by this Czech ensemble.

Cheryl FRANCES-HOAD (b. 1980) Stolen Rhythm - David Cohen (cello) Nicholas Daniel (oboe) Ivana Gavrić (piano) Phoenix Piano Trio, Rambert O/Paul Hoskins rec. 2015 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD119 [79:16] [RHa] A third unmissable disc of Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s alternatively haunting and invigorating music on Champs Hill. Sparkling performances throughout.

César FRANCK (1822-1890), Francis POULENC (1899-1963) & Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1836-1921) Violin sonatas - Carlock-Combet Duo rec. 2016 SOMM SOMMCD0169 [75.42] [IL] An imaginative and intelligent programme:, all three works performed with style, panache and polish.

Robert FRANZ (1815-1892) Songs - Robin Tritschler (tenor) Graham Johnson (piano) rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68128 [77:24] [SSi] This disc is a must for all lovers of the art of lieder, both musically and performance-wise this is a real winner.

Peter Racine FRICKER (1920-1990) String Quartets - Villiers Qt rec. 2015/16 NAXOS 8.571374 [70:23] [SG] Long awaited recordings - the Villiers have done them proud.

Arturo FUENTES (b. 1975) Broken mirrors, Liquid crystals, Ice reflection, Glass distortion - Quatuor Diotima rec. 2015 KAIROS 0015015KAI [59:58] [RHa] Fuentes’s unusual quartet cycle fascinates, challenges and caresses the ear in equal measure.

Johann Joseph FUX (1660-1741) Ave Regina - Hana Blažíková (soprano) Accentus Austria/Thomas Wimmer rec. 2017 DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 88985411892 [57:24] [JV] This disc is the best possible argument for Fux's qualities as a composer in his own right.

Lūcija GARŪTA (1902-1977) Music for Piano - Reinis Zariņš (piano) Liepāja SO/Atvars Lakstīgala SKANI 056 [74:01] [SG] Richly rewarding music. A revelation!

Louis GLASS (1864-1936) Symphony No. 5, Fantasy - Marianna Shirinyan (piano) Staatsorchester Rheinische PO/Daniel Raiskin rec. 2013 CPO 777 494-2 [60:22] [RB] Played on song, top-dead-centre, … frisson-inducing excitement … "air-conducting" with abandon.

Phillip GLASS (b.1937) Violin Concerto No.1 Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) Serenade After Plato’s Symposium - Renaud Capuçon (violin), Bruckner O Linz/Dennis Russel Davies rec. 2010/16 ORANGE MOUNTAIN MUSIC OMM0114 [63:57] [MB] The reason to buy this disc is for the definitive performance of the Glass concerto.

Detlev GLANERT (b. 1960) Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch - Netherlands Radio Ch, Royal Concertgebouw O/Markus Stenz rec. 2016 RCO LIVE RCO17005 SACD [83:09] [JQ] A compelling and fascinating score in a performance that is surely definitive.

Carlo GRAZIANI (?-1787) Sonatas for Violoncello & Continuo - Armoniosa rec. 2017 RUBICON RCD1018 [88:30] [JV] Music making of the highest level.

Edward GREGSON (b.1945) Dances & Arias - Richard Marshall (cornet) Black Dyke Band/Nicholas Childs, Edward Gregson rec. 2016 DOYEN DOYCD369 [73:27] [NB] A magnificent achievement by all concerned.

Tommie HAGLUND (b.1959) Flaminis Aura, Il Regno degli Spiriti, Sollievo, Serenata per Diotima - Ernst Simon Glaser (cello), Julia Kretz–Larsson (violin), ZilliacusPerssonRaitinen, Gothenburg Symphony/David Afkham, Malmö SO/Joachim Gustafsson rec. 2012/15 BIS BIS–2025 SACD [83:46] [NB] Unique and powerful music, stunningly played and recorded.

Timothy HAMILTON (b.1973) Requiem - Ilona Domnich (soprano) Jennifer Johnston (mezzo) Nicky Spence (tenor) David Stout (baritone) Ian Tindale (organ) Cantoribus, Rosenau Sinfonia/Timothy Hamilton rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573849 [63:08] [EJW] A fine and moving work, excellently performed.

Franz Josef HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartets op. 50 - London Haydn Qt rec. 2014 HYPERION CDA68122 [75:35 + 73:16] [CC] A simply stunning release.

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) The Seasons - Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Gabrieli Consort & Players, Ntl Forum Music Ch, Wrocław Baroque O/Paul McCreesh rec. 2016 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD480 [67:42 + 65:26] [JQ] A signal achievement.

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) The Seasons - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Wrocław Baroque O, Gabrieli Consort & Players rec. 2016 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD480 [67:42 + 65:26] [ST] So excellent are this recording’s virtues that it jumps to the top if you want an English language performance.

Barbara HELLER (b. 1936) Herbstmusik - Verdi Qt, Susanne Stoodt (violin) Katharina Deserno (cello) Gesa Lücker (piano) rec. 2015/16 WERGO WER51232 [70:54] [SSi] This is a super disc, one which introduced me to the music of Barbara Heller, and left me longing for more.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Complete String Quartets - Amar Qt rec. 2009/10 NAXOS 8.503290 [3 CDs: 203:15] [SSi] A recording which Hindemith’s string quartets have waited for and deserved. The Amar Quartet effortlessly prove that there is a lot more than counterpoint to this composer’s music.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Complete String Quartets - Juilliard String Qt rec. 1995-97 WERGO WER69602 [3 CDs: 189:25] [SG] Stylish and persuasive readings. For those coming to these works for the first time, the Juilliards get my enthusiastic endorsement.

Charles IVES (1874-1954) Orchestral Set No. 2, Symphonies 3 & 4 - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) Melbourne SO &Ch/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2014/16 CHANDOS CHSA5174 SACD [71.04] [MW] Outstanding recordings of astonishing and truly great music.

Charles IVES (1874-1954) Concord Sonata, Violin Sonata No. 4 - Joonas Ahonen (piano) Pekka Kuusisto (violin, viola) Sharon Bezaly (flute) rec. 2016 BIS BIS-2249 SACD [58:51] [RHa] Brilliant young Finn’s revelatory Concord in superb sound. Unmissable.

Daniel JONES (1919-1993) Symphonies Nos 1 & 10 - BBC Welsh SO/Bryden Thomson rec. 1990 LYRITA SRCD358 [69:44] [JQ] Two important scores available for the first time on CD and in excellent performances.

John JOUBERT (b. 1927) Jane Eyre - April Fredrick, David Stout, English SO/Kenneth Woods rec. 2016 SOMM SOMMCD263-2 [58:19 + 66:56] [JQ] Joubert's 90th birthday celebrated with a superb recording of his rich, inventive opera.

Kara Abdul'Faz-Oglď KARAYEV (1918-1982) The Seven Beauties – Suite; Don Quixote; Leyla and Mejnun - Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHSA5203 SACD [73:10] [DM] Wonderful music, superbly played and recorded; a real find.

György LIGETI (1923-2006) Piano Concerto, Cello Concerto, Chamber Concerto, Melodien - Christian Poltéra (cello) Joonas Ahonen (piano) BIT 20 Ens/Baldur Brönnimann rec. 2014/15 BIS BIS-2209 SACD [71:30] [DC] Beats even the classic recordings.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Opera and song transcriptions - Gábor Farkas (piano) rec. 2016 STEINWAY & SONS STNS 30065 [63:46] [DM] Farkas is a first-class Lisztian; the recording is top-notch, too. 

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Liszt Transfigured – Operatic Fantasies - Chiyan Wong (piano) rec. 2014 LINN CKD561 [70:00] [JWe] This really is a stupendous recording.

Franz LISZT (1811–1886) Sonata, Concert etudes Nos 1 & 2 - Daria Telizyn (piano) CLAUDIO RECORDS CR3705-2 [47:14] [JWe] The whole disc contains really super performances of all the works.

Nicholas LUDFORD (c.1485-1557) Missa Dominica - Lewis Brito-Babapulle (organ) Trinity Boys’ Ch, Handbell Ch Gotha/David Swinson rec. 2017 RONDEAU-HORIZON ROP8001 [79.21] [GH] A really significant and important release.

Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687) Armide - Marie-Adeline Henry, Antonio Figueroa, Ch Chambre de Namur, Les Talens Lyrique/Christophe Rousset rec. 2015 APARTE AP135 [2 CDs: 147:16] [ST] Another feather in Rousset’s cap, but also a very welcome addition to our musical knowledge.

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) Cello Concerto, Symphony No. 4 Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Concert Overture - Gautier Capuçon (cello) Polish Ntl Radio SO/Alexander Liebreichrec. 2016 ACCENTUS MUSIC ACC30388 [59:33] [LW] An unmissable account of Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto and a fine Fourth Symphony as well.

James McCARTHY (b. 1979) Codebreaker Will TODD (b. 1970) Ode to a Nightingale - Julia Doyle (soprano) Hertfordshire Ch/BBC Concert O/David Temple rec. 2016 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD495 [31:22 + 52:12] [EJW] Enormously effective and memorably enjoyable recordings of two very different, yet melodic works by modern British composers.

Sir James MacMILLAN (b. 1959) Stabat Mater - The Sixteen/Britten Sinfonia/Harry Christophers rec. 2014 CORO COR16150 [59:47] [JQ] A masterpiece which should be heard by anyone who values eloquent contemporary music.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 3 - Gerhild Romberger (contralto) Augsburger Domsingknaben, Bavarian Radio Women's Ch & RSO/Bernard Haitink rec. 2016 BR KLASSIK 900149 [35.49 + 65.39] [MC] The vastly experienced Haitink presides over a quite magnificent rendition of an awe-inspiring work.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 3 - Gerhild Romberger (alto); Bavarian RS Ch, Budapest Festival O/Iván Fischer rec. 2016 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA38817 [2 SACDs: 95:30] [DM] Without question, the finest instalment in Fischer’s Mahler cycle to date; the DXD download is a stunner, too.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 4 - Genia Kühmeier (soprano) Münchner Philharmoniker/Valery Gergiev rec. 2017 MÜNCHNER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS MPHL0005 [56.44] [MC] Gergiev’s compelling live performance is entirely convincing and can stand comparison with and may even surpass those I consider the finest in the catalogue.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 9 - Bavarian RSO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2016 BR KLASSIK 900151 [80:45] [MC] Stunning playing in a memorable live account.

Gustav MAHLER (1860–1911) Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Rückert-Lieder, Kindertotenlieder - Alice Coote (mezzo) Netherlands PO/Marc Albrecht rec. 2015/16 PENTATONE PTC5186576 SACD [61:35] [GF] Not to be missed!

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) & Fanny HENSEL (1805-1847) Duette - Judith Erb, Felicitas Erb (sopranos) Doriana Tchakarova (fortepiano) rec. 2016 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38201 SACD [67:02] [SSi] Wonderful … a disc that should be snapped up by all lovers of the great German lieder tradition.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Quartet for the End of Time Fabian MÜLLER (b. 1964) In the Beginning Volker David KIRCHNER (b. 1942) Exile - Christiane Boesiger (soprano) Zurich Ens rec. 2015 ARS PRODUCTION ARS38205 SACD [79:49] [MR] An outstanding recording and magnificent music-making bring to life three very powerful works which reflect political, social and religious issues facing the composers.

Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864) Grand Opera - Diana Damrau (soprano) Ch & O l’Opéra National de Lyon/Emmanuel Villaume rec. 2015 ERATO 9029584899 [81.27] [GF] Not to be missed!

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Vespro della Beata Vergine - La Compagnia del Madrigale, Cantica Symphonice La Pifarescha/Giuseppe Maletto rec. 2016 GLOSSA GCD922807 [64:58 + 58:46] [ST] The finest, most joy-inducing recording of the Vespers to have come my way in many years.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Mass in C minor, Exsultate, jubilate - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Olivia Vermeulen (mezzo) Makoto Sakurada (tenor) Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki rec. 2015 BIS SACD BIS2171 [71:17] [SG] A tremendous achievement.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Concertos - Isabelle Faust (violin) Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini rec. 2015/16 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902230.31 [67:53 + 61:26] [ST] It brings all that is best about period performance.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Whispering Mozart - Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo) Nils Anders Mortensen (piano) rec. 2014 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1111 [65:16] [GF] Comes closer to the true Mozart than anyone else I have heard.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto No.23 Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concerto No.3 - Grigory Sokolov (piano) Mahler CO/Trevor Pinnock, BBC PO/Yan Pascal Tortelier rec. 1995/2005 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 7015 [71:43 + DVD: 58:52] [MB] A fabulous and absolutely essential release that demands to be heard.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Die Zauberflöte - Martin Summer, Yasmin Özkan, Ch & O Teatro alla Scala/Ádám Fischer rec. 2016 C MAJOR 740504 Blu-ray [173 mins] [DBi] Definitely one of the most enjoyable performance I have ever seen.

Ernst NAUMANN (1832-1910) & Wilhelm BERGER (1861-1911) String Trios - Dresdner Streichtrio rec. 2010 QUERSTAND VKJK1020 [52:34] [MC] These are exemplary, unaffected performances by the Dresdner Streichtrio of two rarely heard yet eminently attractive string trios.

Rikard NORDRAAK (1842-1866) Songs & Piano Music - Helene Wold (soprano) Eugene Asti (piano) rec. 2015 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1119 [66:30] [SSi] A wonderful disc, one in which Helene Wold and Eugene Asti give first rate performances, whilst demonstrating that Grieg was not alone in his search for a Norwegian national music.

Per NŘRGĹRD (b. 1932) The Organ Book, Canon - Jens E. Christiensen (organ) rec. 2017 DACAPO SACD 6.220656 [70:54] [SSi] This is an excellent disc, one that displays the differing aspects of Per Nřrgĺrd’s organ style. A must for all organ enthusiasts

Józef NOWAKOWSKI (1800-1865) Piano Quintet Józef KROGULSKI (1815-1842) Piano Octet - Nelson Goerner (piano); Lena Neudauer (violin) Marcin Zdunik (cello) Jan Krzeszowiec (flute) Radosław Soroka (clarinet) rec. 2014 FRYDERYK CHOPIN INSTITUTE NIFCCD105 [61:25] [PRB] The most enjoyable chamber music offering and the most fascinating find I have encountered for some considerable time.

Felix NOWOWIEJSKI (1877-1946) Quo Vadis – Podlasi Opera & Philharmonic Ch, Poznań PO/Łukasz Borowicz rec. 2016 CPO 555 089-2 [95:15] [EJW] An excellent performance and recording of a revival of an important early 20th Century Polish Oratorio.

Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880) Overtures - O Ntl de Lille/Darrell Ang rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573694 [65:40] [DM] Ang is a natural in this repertoire; inspired playing and top-notch sound, too.

Johann PACHELBEL (1653-1706) Keyboard Works - Márton Borsányi (harpsichord, organ) rec 2016 KLANGLOGO KL1519 [64:04] [JV] An excellent opportunity to get to know Pachelbel's keyboard music, and the choice of instruments is thought-provoking.

Michael PRAETORIUS (1571/2-1621) Lutheran Choral Concerts - Weser-Renaissance Bremen/Manfred Cordes rec. 2016 CPO 555 064-2 [74:04] [JV] This disc is an impressive testimony of Praetorius's brilliance as a composer of sacred music.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Turandot - Nina Stemme, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Ch & O Teatro alla Scala Milano/Riccardo Chailly DECCA 074 3938 Blu-ray [136 mins] [DBi] Puccini's final opera with Berio's well judged completion. A top recommendation.

Kevin PUTS (b.1972) Symphony No. 2, River’s Rush, Flute Concerto - Adam Walker (flute) Peabody SO/Marin Alsop rec. 2015 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559794 [56.36] [PCG] After this, my first encounter with the music of Kevin Puts, I very much look forward to hearing more of it.

Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943) All-Night Vigil - Gloria Dei Cantores/Peter Jermihov rec. 2015 GLORIA DEI CANTORES SACD GDCD063 [66:34] [JQ] A splendid achievement. Listening to this recording is an uplifting and rewarding experience.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concerto No. 3 Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto No. 23 - Grigory Sokolov (piano) Mahler CO/Trevor Pinnock, BBC Philharmonic/Yan Pascal Tortelier rec. 1995/2005 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 7015 [71:43 + DVD: 58:52] [SG] I’m certain that all, like myself, who follow Sokolov’s career with interest, will find much to admire in this absorbing release.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concerto No.2, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini - Anna Vinnitskaya (piano) NDR Elb PO/Krzysztof Urbański rec. 2016 ALPHA 275 [56.36] [MW] A triumph - first choice for this coupling.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Daphnis et Chloé - Ens Aedes, Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905280 [54:49] [ST] Perhaps the most important Daphnis to come out since Charles Dutoit’s very different version from Montreal.

Max REGER (1873-1916) Complete Organ Works - Martin Schmeding (organ) rec. 2014/16 CYBELE RECORDS 051500 [17 SACDs: 19:24:00] [SG] An impressive achievement.

Max REGER (1873-1916) Works for Men's Choir Vol. 1 - Ens Vocapella Limburg/Tristan Meister rec. 2016 RONDEAU ROP6126 [79:32] [SSi] This is one of the finest discs of Max Reger’s choral music that I have heard; I look forward to volume two.

Max REGER (1873-1916) Clarinet Sonatas - Michael Collins (clarinet) Michael McHale (piano) rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHAN10970 [71:49] [SSi] This excellent performance deserves to win Reger’s music many new converts.

Antoine REICHA (1770-1836) Reicha Rediscovered Vol. 1 - Ivan Ilić (piano) rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHAN10950 [66:47] [DC] You’ve never heard anything quite like this!

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Trittico Botticelliano, Il tramonto, Vetrate di chiesa - Liège Royal PO/John Neschling rec. 2016 BIS BIS-2250 SACD [66:26] [DM] The highpoint of Neschling’s cycle thus far; the rarely heard Il tramonto is a real find.

Joseph-Guy ROPARTZ (1864-1955) Complete Organ Works - Markus Eichenlaub (organ) rec. 2006-7 AEOLUS AE10391 SACD [75:39 + 75:15] [SG] Music that certainly deserves a wider currency. Ropartz enthusiasts and organ buffs, especially, will find much to savour.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Mélodies avec Orchestre - Yann Beuron (tenor) Tassis Christoyannis (baritone) O Della Svizzera Italiana/Markus Poschner rec. 2016 ALPHA 273 [58:05] [RJW] The quality of performance is excellent.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) The Piano Concertos Vols 1 & 2 - Romain Descharmes (piano) Malmö SO/Marc Soustrot rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573476/7 [58:22 & 57:16] [DM] A winning partnership in every way; roll on Volume 3!

Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725) Opera omnia per tastiera Vol. V - Francesco Tasini (organ) rec. 2014 TACTUS TC661915 [75:37] [JV] A splendid disc because of the music, the performance and the organ.

Adam SCHOENBERG (b 1980) Finding Rothko, American Symphony, Picture Studies - Kansas City Symphony/Michael Stern rec. 2014 REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-139 SACD [64:58] [JQ] Artistically and sonically this is an exciting disc.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quartets Nos 12 & 15 - Doric String Qt rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHAN10931 [61:50] [GPJ] Dramatic readings of these masterpieces from this brilliant young British quartet.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quartet No. 15 Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartet Op. 20/3 - Tetzlaff Qt rec. 2015 ONDINE ODE1293-2 [73:51] [RMo] A pairing that succeeds so triumphantly.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Johan Reuter (bass-baritone) Copenhagen String Qt rec. 2014 DANACORD DACOCD759 [76:00] [GF] I urge every Schubert enthusiast to give this disc a listen.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonatas D959, D960 - Krystian Zimerman (piano) rec. 2016 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 7588 [82:08] [SG] Top-drawer performances by any standards.

Georg SCHUMANN (1866-1952) Symphony, Overtures - Deutsches SO Berlin/James Feddeck rec. 2016 CPO 5551102 [78:51] [SG] Lush late romanticism, superbly performed.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Quintet, Märchenbilder, Fünf Stücke im Volkston - Benvenue Fortepiano Trio, Jodi Levitz (viola) Carla Moore (violin) rec. 2016 AVIE AV2365 [59:48] [SSi] A most desirable disc bringing new life and light to this music.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Fantasy, Geistervariationen Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Fantasia, Piano Sonata No. 14 - Piotr Anderszewski (piano) rec. 2006/16 WARNER CLASSICS 9029588855 [79.14] [MC] Some remarkable pianism in a recital of very special quality.

John SHEPPARD (c.1515–1558) Media vita - Westminster Cathedral Ch/Martin Baker rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68187 [79:45] [BW] A first-class introduction for those who don’t know Sheppard’s music and a strong recommendation for those who already do.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Concertos 1 & 2, String Quartet No. 8 - Boris Giltburg (piano) Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573666 [69:47] [ST] Snap this up! Giltburg and Petrenko work superbly together. Great value for money.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin Concertos - Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin) NDR Elbphilharmonie O/Alan Gilbert rec. 2012-2015 BIS BIS-2247 SACD [61:41] [JQ] Superb advocacy for Shostakovich’s violin concertos.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Kullervo, Finlandia Olli KORTEKANGAS (b. 1955) Migrations - Lilli Paasikivi (mezzo) Tommi Hakala (baritone) YL Male Voice Ch & Minnesota O/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2016 BIS BIS-9048 SACD [79:29 + 33:40] [JQ] The finest recording of Kullervo that I’ve ever heard, presented in magnificent sound.

Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Má Vlast - Bamberg SO/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2015/16 TUDOR 7196 SACD [81:11] [JQ] A very fine achievement.

Alexey Wladimirowich STANCHINSKY (1888-1914) Piano Works - Ekaterina Derzhavina (piano) rec. 2004/5 PROFIL EDITION PH17003 [59:47] [SG] For those drawn towards Russian romanticism, tonal yet harmonically bold and pushing the boundaries, this one is for you. 

Maximilian STEINBERG (1883-1946) Violin Concerto, Symphony No. 4 - Sergey Levitin (violin) Royal Scottish Ntl O/Martin Yates rec. 2016 DUTTON CDLX7341 SACD [74:22] [RB] Ripe Russian nationalism nostalgically re-imagined well into the last century. Freshly rewarding and standing sturdily confident.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Eine Alpensinfonie, Tod und Verklärung - Bavarian Radio SO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2014-2016 BR KLASSIK 900148 [75:10] [RMo] Magnificent performances for the devotee of Big Band Strauss.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Eine Alpensinfonie Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 10 Adagio - European Union Youth O/James Judd rec. 1991/2 ALTO ALC1346 [78:27] [RMo] Judd presides over a truly cohesive narrative.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Also Sprach Zarathustra Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Planets - CBSO Youth Ch, NYOGB/Edward Gardner rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHSA5179 SACD [79:53] [ST] A very decent Zarathustra, coupled with a remarkable and quite outstanding Planets.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Don Juan, Ein Heldenleben- NHK SO Tokyo/Paavo Järvi rec. 2015 RCA 88985391762 [61:29] [ST] A hit, then! I look forward to the next instalment.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Salome - Birgit Nilsson (soprano) Eberhard Wächter (baritone) Gerhard Stolze (tenor) Grace Hoffman (mezzo) Vienna PO/Sir Georg Solti rec. 1961 DECCA 483 1498 CD/BD-A [100:36] [JQ] This 1961 Salome still has the capacity to thrill – indeed shock – in 2017, especially in its remastered, high-res BD-A form.

Georgy SVIRIDOV (1915-1998) Piano trio, Piano Quintet - Beethoven Trio Bonn rec. 2016 C-AVI MUSIC 8553375 [57:52] [SG] An ideal starting point to the music of a composer whose music is slowly making its presence felt and coming to the attention of record companies.

Donald SWANN (1923–1994) Songs - Dame Felicity Lott (soprano) Kathryn Rudge (mezzo) John Mark Ainsley (tenor) Roderick Williams (baritone) Christopher Glynn (piano) rec. 2015/16 HYPERION CDA68172 [64:04 + 57:08] [JQ] A captivating collection of songs by Donald Swann.

Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) & Mieczysław KARŁOWICZ (1876-1909) Violin Concertos - Tasmin Little (violin) BBC SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHSA5185 SACD [73:18] [SB] This recording of Szymanowski’s wonderful concertos could be a first choice.

Joby TALBOT (b. 1971) Path of Miracles Owain PARK (b. 1993) Footsteps - Fellows of the NYOGB, Tenebrae/Nigel Short rec. 2005/16 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD471 [79:22] [JQ] Tenebrae’s 15th anniversary marked with a reissue of Joby Talbot’s astonishing Path of Miracles.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) String Quartets Nos 1 & 3 - Heath Qt rec. 2015 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907665 [66:24] [ST] The performance is outstandingly assured, and speaks of artists who have already attained a remarkable degree of maturity.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Concertos - Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini (recorder, tenor chalumeau) rec. 2012/13 ALPHA 245 [74:09] [MR] What is there not to like about this fabulous disc of exuberant Telemann performed with flamboyance and élan by these exquisite Italian musicians?

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Concertos - Akademie Alte Musik Berlin rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902261 [72.20] [MC] One of the finest albums of Baroque music I have encountered for some time.

Marcel TYBERG (1893-1944) Masses Nos 1 & 2 - Christopher Jacobson (organ) South Dakota Chorale/Brian A. Schmidt rec. 2016 PENTATONE PTC5186584 SACD [64:36] [JQ] Distinguished first recordings of two fine settings of the Mass by a composer whose voice was silenced in Auschwitz.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Piano Music - Mark Bebbington, Rebecca Omordia (piano) rec. 2016 SOMM SOMMCD0164 [70.55] [IL] An important addition to the Vaughan Williams discography.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Scott of the Antarctic - Ilona Domnich (soprano) Christopher Nickol (organ) Royal Scottish Ntl Ch & O/Martin Yates rec. 2016 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7340 SACD [79:48] [EJW] A first-rate disc. RVW devotees will want it!

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphonies Nos 4 & 6 - Hallé/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2016 HALLÉ CDHLL7547 [64.55] [MC] Outstanding live accounts of this pair of symphonies.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Lohengrin - Klaus Florian Vogt (tenor) Camilla Nylund (soprano) Netherlands Radio Ch, Ch of Dutch Ntl Opera, Royal Concertgebouw O/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2015 RCO LIVE RCO17002 [3 SACDs: 210:45] [MC] A Lohengrin to live with and treasure.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Scenes and Arias - Michael Volle (baritone) Berlin RSO/Georg Fritzsch rec. 2016 ORFEO C904171A [65.48] [MC] With Michael Volle in such outstanding form this essential Wagner collection is a riveting experience.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Der Ring des Nibelungen - Metropolitan Opera O & Ch/James Levine, Fabio Luisi rec. 2010/12 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON Blu-ray 0734771 [5 discs: 18 hrs 31 mins] [ST] If you want a broadly traditional, mythical Ring then this is definitely worth exploring.

Sir William WALTON (1902-1983) Symphonies - Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits rec. 2016 ONYX 4168 [73:50] [IL] A first-class performance of Walton’s First Symphony that rivals Previn’s august recording.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Chamber Symphonies Nos 1-4, Piano Quintet - Kremerata Baltica/Gidon Kremer (violin), Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla rec. 2015 ECM NEW SERIES 2538/39 (4814604) [79:45 + 79:40] [SG] Refined and polished performances, in convincing interpretations.

Giaces de WERT (1535-1596) Sacred Motets - Stile Antico rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI SACD HMM807620 [67.19] [GH] A disc which is as good as they come.

Graham WHETTAM (1927-2007) Complete Cello Works - Martin Rummel (cello) Sinfonia de Camera/Ian Hobson; Woolaston Festival O/Graham Whettam rec. 2000/2011 PALADINO MUSIC PMR0041 [79:23] [JF] I cannot rate this CD too highly, and Martin Rummel’s playing is superb.

Vsevolod ZADERATSKY (1891-1953) 24 Preludes & Fugues - Lukas Geniušas, Andrei Gugnin, Nikita Mndoyants, Ksenia Bashmet, Yury Favorin & Andrei Yaroshinsky (piano) rec. 2016 MELODIYA MELCD1002450 [64:57 + 70:06] [SA] I urge everyone to get their hands on this superb disc.

Advent Calendar A collection of contemporary Christmas carols - ORA/Suzi Digby, Joby Burgess (percussion) rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI [approx. 83 mins] [JQ] This collection from ORA will be at the top of my playlist not only for Christmas 2017 but for many Christmases to come.

Between the Seasons Works by Kraggerud & Vivaldi - Henning Kraggerud (violin) Arctic Philharmonic CO, Knut Johannessen (harpsichord) Petter Richter (guitar, theorbo) rec. 2016 SIMAX PSC1356 [63:20] [GF] Things couldn’t be better!

Beyond Los Angeles Percussion Quartet rec. 2016 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92214 BD-A/CD [85:53] [DM] Jaw-dropping; the best thing I’ve heard all year.

British Symphonies rec. 1968-2007 LYRITA SRCD.2355 [4 CDs: 315:45] [JQ] There’s only one way to describe this set: a stupendous bargain.

Celebrating English Song Roderick Williams (baritone) Susie Allan (piano) rec. 2017 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0177 [72:42] [JQ] This is, quite simply, an exemplary recital of English song.

Joyce DiDonato (mezzo) In War and Peace - Il Pomo d’Oro/Maxim Emelyanychev rec. 2016 ERATO 9029592846 [79:07] [BW] Very minor reservations apart, this is a stunningly good recording.  

Joyce DiDonato (mezzo) In War and Peace - Il Pomo d'Oro/Maxim Emelyanychev rec. 2016 ERATO 9029 592846 [79.12] [GF] No lover of great singing can afford to be without this disc.

Discoveries Works by EEchaute, Matz, Piatti & Wiłkomirski - Polish Cello Qt rec. 2016 CD ACCORD ACD237-2 [66:04] [SG] I never imagined that four cellos could achieve such a panoply of polychromatic hues.

Dream with Me Katarzyna Dondalska (soprano, violin) Timur Enikeev (piano) Michelle Perry (horn) rec. 2016 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0370 [77:19] [GF] You will love this: beautiful melodies performed by wonderful artists.

The Ear of the Huguenots Huelgas Ens/Paul Van Nevel rec. 2016 DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 88985411762 [65:09] [JV] Paul Van Nevel always gets to the heart of the matter.

Emotions Works by Franck & Ravel - Kirill Troussov (violin) Alexandra Troussova (piano) rec. 2016 MDG 903 1984-6 SACD [65:29] [DBi] A magnificent disc of great music, superbly played and recorded.

Enlightened Virtuoso Works by Khandoshkin, Paganini, Roman & Rust - Zbigniew Pilch (violin) rec. 2015 CD ACCORD ACD232-2 [70:13] A most intriguing recital of pieces which are seldom played, if at all.

An Eventful Morning in East London 21st Century Violin Concertos - Harriet Mackenzie, Philippa Mo (violin) English String O, English SO/Kenneth Woods rec. 2014/17 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6295 [69:41] [RHa] A fascinating miscellany of new concertante works with solo violin, featuring at least one bona-fide masterpiece.

Ein Feste Burg is Unser Gott Luther & the Music of the Reformation - Vox Luminis/Lionel Meunier Bert Jacobs (organ) rec. 2016 RICERCAR RIC376 [70:50 + 79:17] [ST] An all-round winner.

Flux Ferio Saxophone Qt rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHAN10987 [80:40] [DM] What a fabulous foursome; bar-raising musicianship and sound.

Funeral Music from Gottorf Works by Förtsch, G & M Österreich - Weser-Renaissance Bremen/Manfred Cordes rec. 2015 CPO 555 010-2 [68:26] [JV] One of the most impressive recordings of Lutheran sacred music which have been released recently.

Walter Gieseking (piano) The 1950s Solo Studio Recordings - rec. 1951-56 APR 7402 [4 CDs: 280:05] [SG] Piano aficionados will find plenty to savour.

Audrey Hepburn – A Touch of Music Music from films starring Audrey Hepburn MILAN 399 834-2 [71.01] [IL] Sheer delight. An old-fashioned film music collection to savour.

Irma Kolassi (mezzo) The Decca Recitals - rec. 1952/56 ELOQUENCE 482 4637 [4 CDs: 266:18] [SG] Lovers of vocal artistry and especially French art songs will find much to savour in this compelling release.

Yvonne Lefébure (piano) Une Légende du Piano rec. 1951-1983 SOLSTICE SOCD321/44 [24 CDs: 27:23:00] [SG] Lovers of French pianism, indeed pianophiles in general, will find this set indispensable.

Yvonne Lefébure (piano) Une Légende du Piano rec. 1951-83 SOLSTICE SOCD321/44 [24 CDs: ca 27 hrs] [JW] An absolutely superb collection.

Let Beauty Awake Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Songs, Romance Rebecca CLARKE (1886-1979) Viola Sonata Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-76) Cello Suite No. 3, Lachrymae - Ellen Nisbeth (viola) Bengt Forsberg (piano) rec. 2016 BIS BIS-2182 SACD [80:18] [RHa] A superbly devised and executed recital of haunting English viola works, performed by a young Swedish virtuoso with an uncanny feeling for this repertoire.

Llibre Vermell de Montserrat - La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Hespèrion XXI/Jordi Savall rec. 2013 ALIA VOX AVSA9919 SACD/DVD [71:46] [ST] I felt like an enriched, more enlightened person after listening to this.

Lost is my quiet Duets & Solo Songs by Mendelssohn, Purcell, Quiltr & Schumann - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Iestyn Davies (countertenor) Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2016 BIS SACD BIS-2279 [79:04] [DBi] The tagline ‘Wow’ is appropriate.

Wanda Luzzato (violin) Sonatas by Beethoven, Brahms, Grieg, Hubay, Schubert, Schumann & Strauss - Hans Priegnitz (piano) rec. 1955-60 MELOCLASSIC MC2026 [79:29 + 67:20] [SG] Violin buffs, take note.

Wanda Luzzato (violin) Unreleased Recordings - rec. 1955/79 RHINE CLASSICS RH-002 [8 CDs: 510:00] [SG] Valuable recorded documents from the Wanda Luzzato Archive. I would encourage all violin afficionados to explore this compelling collection.

Mallorca Edition Historic Organs Martin Schmeding (organ) rec. 2011 CYBELE RECORDS 001404 [6 SACDs: 458:29] [DC] Breathtaking organ sounds – as much a lifetime investment as a luxury purchase.

Mary Star Of The Sea Gothic Voices rec. 2015 LINN CKD541 [74.00] [MW] One to treasure – sheer beauty from beginning to end.

The Masque of Moments Theatre of the Ayre/Elizabeth Kenny, Salisbury Cathedral Ch, Lay Clerks rec. 2015 LINN CKD542 [68:18] [GH] This beautifully recorded disc will no doubt be one of my highlights of 2017.

Music For Five Winds Works by Taffanel, Zemlinsky, Mower, Bozza & Francaix - Atéa Quintet rec. 2016 COVIELLO COV91714 [70:28] [GPJ] A truly outstanding CD from this young British quintet; the Mike Mower piece is a major addition to the repertoire.

Music for the Queen of Heaven Contemporary Marian Motets - The Marian Consort/Rory McCleery rec. 2017 DELPHIAN DCD34190 [59:31] [JQ] An outstanding, memorable disc.

Nature and The Soul Latvian Choral Classics - Latvian Radio Ch/Kaspars Putniņš rec. 2016 SKANI 054 [58:48] [SG] For the performers this is a 'love letter to Latvia' and a homecoming - music of timeless appeal.

Organ Fireworks World Tour Christopher Herrick (organ) rec. 1984-2009 HYPERION CDA68214 [76:44] [MR] A marvellous look back over some of the best organ playing and recording the CD medium has ever carried.

Il pianto della Madonna Works by Monteverdi & Frescobaldi - La Compagnia del Madrigale rec. 2014 GLOSSA GCD922805 [68:34] [JV] This is a splendid disc which offers something of a new perspective on parts of Monteverdi's oeuvre.

Plays & Operas For The Radio Works by Haas, Hindemith, Gronostay, Weill, Grosz & Sutermeister - O & Ch Staatsoperette Dresden/Ernst Theis rec. 2007-2011 CPO 777 839-2 [2 CDs: 137:02] [NB] Both historically important and fascinating, enjoyable listening. A candidate for Recording of the Year.

Rostropovich: Cellist of the Century The Complete Warner Recordings WARNER CLASSICS 9029589230 [40 CDs + 3 DVDs: 40hrs] [SG] A sterling tribute to a great artist.

The Routes of Slavery 3MA, Tembembe Ens Continuo, La Capella rec. 2015 ALIA VOX AVSA9920 SACD/DVD [60:21 + 67:14] [ST] A triumph of history, of music-making, of world music, and of humanitarianism in general.

Tales of Sound and Fury Works by Biber, Telemann & Purcell - Karin Dahlberg (soprano) Camerata Nordica/Terje Třnnesen (violin) rec. 2006-2015 BIS BIS-2256 SACD [60:33] [GPJ] Baroque music, but not as we know it  - crazy, weird musical lunacy, but hugely entertaining and brilliantly performed.

Thousands of Miles Lieder by Korngold, Alma Mahler, Weill & Zemlinsky - Kate Lindsey (mezzo) Baptiste Trotignon (piano) rec. 2016 ALPHA 272 [63:45] [IL] An absolute delight. Highly recommended.

Camilla Tilling (soprano) Loves me … loves me not - Musica Saeculorum/Philipp von Steinaecker rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2234 SACD [65:51] [GF] All in all: this is a marvellous disc!

Camilla Tilling (soprano) Loves me … loves me not - Musica Saeculorum/Philipp von Steinaecker rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2234 SACD [65:51] [MC] One of the finest albums of its kind and has my highest possible endorsement.

A Tribute to Gilbert Duprez Arias by Verdi, Donizetti, Berlioz & Rossini - John Osborn (tenor) Kaunas City SO & State Ch/Constantine Orbelian rec. 2016 DELOS DE3532 [61:31] [MC] This outstanding recording should win both French Grand Opera and tenor John Osborn many new admirers.

Thousands of Miles Works by Weill, Alma Mahler, Korngold & Zemlinsky - Kate Lindsey (mezzo) Baptiste Trotignon (piano & arrangements) rec. 2016 ALPHA CLASSICS 272 [63:45] [GF] This is a recital to return to over and over again and find new insights and revelations every time.

Trios From Our Homelands Piano trios by Babajanian, Clarke & Martin - Lincoln Trio rec. 2015 ÇEDILLE CDR90000165 [64:15] [DJB] Three cracking works in performances that are as good as any.

Virgin and Child Music From the Baldwin Part Books Vol. 2 - Works by Tallis, Taverner, White, Fayrfax & Sheppard - Contrapunctus/Owen Rees rec. 2016 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD474 [75:18] [ST] This is a very fine disc, if anything even finer than the first volume.

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