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Some items
to consider

Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!

Nothing but Praise

BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set

Telemann continues to amaze

A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition

Another Bacewicz winner

match any I’ve heard

An outstanding centenary collection

personable, tuneful, approachable

a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.

music that will be new to most people

telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded

hitherto unrecorded Latvian music


Recordings of the Month 2018

Hans ABRAHAMSEN (b. 1952) String Quartets Nos 1-4 - Arditti String Qt rec. 2015/16 WINTER & WINTER 910242-2 [68:24] [RHa] Fascinating, fragile, hibernal, beautiful. Hans Abrahamsen’s four magnificent quartets in outstanding performances. Unmissable.

John ADAMS (b.1947) The John Adams Edition - Berlin PO/John Adams, Alan Gilbert, Gustavo Dudamel, Kirill Petrenko & Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2016/17 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS BPHR170141 [4 CDs: 298:04 + 2 Blu-ray] [JQ] If you admire the music of John Adams you must hear this superb set.

Charles-Valentin ALKAN (1813-1888) Etudes Op. 35 - Mark Viner (piano) rec. 2016 PIANO CLASSICS PCL10127 [68:27] [RBe] Viner must now rank as one of the pre-eminent Alkan interpreters.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Mass in B minor - Katherine Watson (soprano) Tim Mead (countertenor) Reinoud Van Mechelen (tenor) André Morsch (bass) Les Arts Florissants/William Christie rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HAF8905293.94 [52:16 + 52:47] [ST] Explore and be surprised and delighted.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Ascension Oratorio, Cantatas 34 & 37 - Gutenberg-Kammerchor, Neumeyer Consort/Felix Koch rec. 2016 RONDEAU ROP6154 [61:11] [SG] I have nothing but praise for this wonderful production.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Clavier Books I & II - Alexandra Papastefanou (piano) rec. 2017 FIRST HAND RECORDS FHR65 [4 CDs: 268:00] [SG] If any recording ticks all the right boxes for me, it's this one.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Dialogkantaten - Sophie Karthäuser (soprano) Michael Volle (bass) RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Raphael Alpermann rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902368 [64:38] [SSi] One of the best Bach cantata discs I have heard for some time.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Organ Concertos, Sonatas and Toccatas - Konstantin Volostnov (organ) rec. 2016 MELODIYA MELCD1002523 [3 CDs: 184:07] [BW]  Volostnov’s enthusiastic performances on a replica of an organ from Bach’s time capture the spirit of the music as well as any.

Mason BATES (b. 1977) The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs - Kelly Markgraf, Edward Parks (baritone) Sasha Cooke (mezzo) The Santa Fe Opera O/Michael Christie rec. 2017 PENTATONE SACD PTC5186690 [47:34 + 46:41] [RHa] Thrillingly recorded, Mason Bates’s and Mark Campbell’s imaginative and coherent opera is a must-hear.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano sonatas Nos 14 & 29 - Murray Perahia (piano) rec. 2016/17 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 8353 [55:42] [RMo] This disc represents the summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 1, Piano Concerto No. 1 - Martha Argerich (piano) Mito CO/Seiji Ozawa rec. 2017 DECCA CLASSICS 4832566 [60:41] [SG] Familiar repertoire given a fresh lease of life.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Diabelli Variations - Martin Helmchen (piano) rec. 2017 ALPHA 386 [55:03] [ST] This new kid on the block has just carved out a very special niche for himself.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 9 -  Philharmonia O & Ch/Benjamin Zander rec. 2017 BRATTLE MEDIA 610877733781 [3 CDs: 218:35] [GPJ] An ear-opening and often thoroughly startling interpretation of the Ninth.

Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805) Stabat mater Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) String Quartet No. 16 Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Salve Regina - Dorothee Mields (soprano) Salagon Qt, Miriam Shalinsky (double bass) rec. 2016 CARUS 83.470 [72:08] [JV] Even if you already have a good performance of Boccherini's Stabat mater, this will surpass it.

Sergei BORTKIEWICZ (1877-1952) Piano Concertos No. 2 & 3 - Stefan Doniga (piano), Janáček PO/David Porcelijn rec. 2008 PIANO CLASSICS PCL10146 [58:18] [EJW] I hope that lovers of late Romantic piano concertos will rush out and buy this.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 4 - Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Lohengrin Prelude - Gewandhaus O Leipzig/Andris Nelsons rec. 2017 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4797577 [79:37] [RMo] One of the best accounts of this symphony ever recorded and certainly the finest of recent years.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 9 - O Ntl RTF/Lovro von Matačić rec. 1963 ALTUS ALT380 [60:00] [MB] This is a quite remarkable Ninth to set beside the best.

Pavel CHESNOKOV (1877-1944) Teach Me Thy Statutes - PaTRAM Institute Male Ch/Vladimir Gorbik rec. 2017 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-727 SACD [67:14] [DM] Intensely beautiful singing and sound; quite simply, choral albums don’t come much better than this.

Pavel CHESNOKOV (1877-1944) Teach Me Thy Statutes - PaTRAM Institute Male Ch/Vladimir Gorbik rec. 2017 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-727 SACD [67:14] [JQ] This disc is a stunner.

Pavel CHESNOKOV (1877-1944) Teach Me Thy Statutes - PaTRAM Institute Male Ch/Vladimir Gorbik rec. 2016 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-727 SACD [67:14] [SSi] An exceptional disc that any fan of choral music, and the Russian choral tradition in particular, would love.

Giovanni Paolo COLONNA (1637-1695) Sacre Lamentazioni - Massimo Lombardi (chant) I Musici di Santa Pelaga/Maurizio Fornero (harpsichord, organ) rec. 2015 CPO 555 048-2 [80:02] [JV] A most interesting and musically captivating contribution to the repertoire for Passiontide.

Louis COUPERIN (c1626-1661) Dances from the Bauyn Manuscript - Pavel Kolesnikov (piano) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68224 [79:11] [RHa] Louis Couperin’s exquisite harpsichord music reimagined for piano. Pavel Kolesnikov’s superb disc accentuates its modernity of outlook and spirit.

Louis COUPERIN (c1626-1661) Dances from the Bauyn Manuscript - Pavel Kolesnikov (piano) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68224 [79:11] [SG] Music of excellence, well performed and fortified by carefully considered programming. 

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Pelléas et Mélisande - Christian Gerhaher, Magdalena Kožená, Gerald Finley, Franz-Josef Selig, Bernarda Fink, Joshua Bloom, Elias Mädler, London SO & Ch/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2016 LSO LIVE LSO0790 SACD/BD-A [165:47] [ST] Worthy to stand alongside any Pelléas of the stereo era.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Pelléas et Mélisande - Christian Gerhaher, Magdalena Kožená, Gerald Finley, Bernarda Fink, London SO & Ch/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2016 LSO LIVE LSO0790 SACD/BD-A [165:47] [JQ] This superb set is a major addition to the discography of Debussy’s great opera.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Images, Children’s Corner, Suite Bergamasque, L’isle joyeuse - Seong-Jin Cho (piano) rec. 2017 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4798308 [72:49] [SG] Seong-Jin Cho is a natural Debussy player, his myriad pastel shades and artful musicianship are arresting.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) The Philips Recordings - Hans Henkemans (piano) rec. 1951-57 DECCA 4829490 [4 CDs: 267:09] [SG] This would be the cycle I would favour above all the others for my desert island, yes even the Gieseking!

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Préludes - Book 2, La Mer - Alexander Melnikov, Olga Pashchenko (piano) rec. 2016/17 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902302 [63:23] [RHa] If you doff your cap to M. Debussy just once in the centenary year of his passing, make it this unfailingly insightful gem of a disc.

Caspar DIETHELM (1926-1997) Symphonies - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Rainer Held rec. 2016 GUILD GM3CD7808 [68:17] [MR] Outstanding playing, perceptive direction, superlative recording, but most of all, absolutely amazingly good music from a seriously-overlooked Swiss symphonist.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) String Sextet & Quintet - Jerusalem Quartet, Veronika Hagen (viola), Gary Hoffman (cello) rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902320 [66:57] [RMo] A superb pairing which supplants (just) my previous favourites.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Falstaff, Grania & Diarmid, Songs - Roderick Williams (baritone) BBC Philharmonic/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHSA5188 SACD [74.25] [DBi] A superb Falstaff coupled with some wonderfully enjoyable rarities.

Joel ENGEL (1868-1927) Chamber Music & Folksongs - Rachel Calloway (mezzo) Musicians Pittsburgh Jewish Festival rec. 2011-15 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0343 [58:42] [SA] A brilliant disc of magical repertoire which you won’t find elsewhere; seek it out and you’ll be completely won over.

Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946) Fantasia Baetica and other piano works - Garrick Ohlsson (piano) rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68177 [69:54] [DM] Distinguished pianism, a fine venue and a first-rate recording, in short, a perfect storm.

Brian FERNEYHOUGH (b.1943) Liber Scintillarum, Plötzlichkeit, Missa Brevis, La terre est un homme - ens recherche, Olivia Robinson, Jennifer Adams-Barbaro (sopranos) Cherith Millburn-Fryer (alto) EXAUDI/James Weeks, BBC SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2006-12 NMC D231 [68:05] [MB] A clear record of the year, I think.

Brian FERNEYHOUGH (b. 1943) Liber Scintillarum, Plötzlichkelt, Missa Brevis, La Terre est un Homme - ensemble recherche, Olivia Robinson, Jennifer Adams-Barbaro (sopranos) Cherith Millburn-Fryer (alto) BBC SO/Martyn Brabbins, EXAUDI/James Weeks rec. 2006-12 NMC D231 [68:05] [SG] Exciting and challenging, yet the rewards are manifold.

Francesco GASPARINI (1661-1727) Opera Arias - Roberta Invernizzi (soprano) Auser Musici/Carlo Ipata rec. 2016 GLOSSA GCD922905 [59:30] [JW] An unblemished success in every respect.

Henryk GÓRECKI (1933-2010) String Quartet No. 3 - Dafô String Qt rec. 2016 DUX 1302 [48:37] [SSi] A wonderful recording that any self-respecting enthusiast of string quartets and the composer’s music should have.

Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961) Complete Music for Wind Band Vol. 1 - Royal Norwegian Navy Band/Bjarte Engeset rec. 2014-2016 NAXOS 8.573679 [67:59] [RHa] Bjarte Engeset conducts his remarkable Norwegian band in the first volume of what promises to be an unmissable series.

Fromental HALÉVY (1799-1862) La Reine de Chypre - Véronique Gens, Cyrille Dubois, Flemish Radio Ch, Paris CO/Hervé Niquet rec. 2017 EDICIONES SINGULARES ES1032 [75:37 + 79:09] [SSi] Ediciones Singulares have once again rescued a work from obscurity and done it full justice with exceptional presentation and performances.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Sonatas for violin & basso continuo - Brook Street Band rec. 2018 AVIE AV2387 [80.00] [MC] Handel’s violin sonatas could hardly receive finer advocacy than these exceptional performances.

George Frederic HANDEL (1685-1759) Acis and Galatea - Lucy Crowe (soprano), Allan Clayton (tenor), Early Opera Company/Christian Curnyn rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHACONNE CHSA0404 SACD [37:38 + 49:10] [DBi] A magnificent performance and recording of one of Handel's most delightful creations.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685 – 1759) Finest Arias for Base Voice - Christopher Purves (baritone) Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen rec. 2016/17 HYPERION CDA68152 [77:11] [GF] Much better baroque music making is hard to imagine.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Piano Sonatas Vol. 7  - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHAN10998 [72:42] [MG] There’s no better interpreter of Haydn today than Bavouzet: he has the secret of unlocking both his individuality and sheer quality.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Planets Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Also sprach Zarathustra - New England Conservatory Ch, Boston SO/William Steinberg, rec. 1970/71 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4798669 CD/BD-A [75:56] [JQ] Two tremendous performances, now in superb BD-A sound which wears its four decades and more lightly.

Alexander KASTALSKY (1856-1926) Memory Eternal to the Fallen Heroes - Clarion Ch/Steven Fox rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573889 [55:34] [SG] I shall have no hesitation in nominating this stunning recording as one of my choices of the year.

Raul KOCZALSKI (1885-1948) Piano Concertos 1 & 2 - Joanna Ławrynowicz (piano) Podkarpacka PSO im. Artura Malawskiego in Rzeszów/Massimiliano Caldi rec. 2017 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0501 [58:38] [EJW] A recording that has given me much pleasure – I hope to hear more of Raul Koczalski’s music.

Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952) Symphonies Nos 2 & 6; Upaaagtede Morgenstjerner - Vienna PO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2017/18 DACAPO 6.220653 SACD [70:00] [DM]  Two fine symphonies, very well played and recorded; a cheer-raising, hat-tossing event for all Langgaardians.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Transcendental Studies - Kirill Gerstein (piano) rec. 2015 MYRIOS CLASSICS MYR019 SACD [64:00] [DM]  Extraordinary pianism that strikes a perfect balance between impetuosity and insight; bar-raising sonics, too.

Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1688) Alceste - Judith van Wanroij, Edwin Crossley-Mercer, Ch chambre Namur, Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset rec. 2017 APARTE MUSIC AP164 [80:00 + 70:59] [SSi] A wonderful recording that eclipses the other option in both style and recording quality; buy it while you can.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Kindertotenlieder Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Tod und Verklärung - Brigitte Fassbaender (mezzo) Munich Phil/Sergiu Celibidache rec. 1979/83 MÜNCHNER PHILHARMONIKER 9305211296 [60:49] [RMo] I am captivated every time I listen to this.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Kindertotenlieder Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Tod und Verklärung - Brigitte Fassbaender (mezzo) Munich PO/Sergiu Celibidache rec. 1979-83 MÜNCHNER PHILHARMONIKER 9305211296 [60:49] [MC] Undoubtedly an early contender for one of my Records of the Year.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Symphony No. 10 Adagio - Michael Volle (baritone), Munich Phil/Christian Thielemann rec. 2011 MÜNCHNER PHILHARMONIKER 9305211271 [59:59] [MC] Undoubtedly one of the finest Mahler albums that I have reviewed in some years.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Das klagende Lied - Simone Schneider (soprano) Tanja Ariane Baumgartner (mezzo) Torsten Kerl (tenor) Wiener Singakademie, ORF Vienna Radio SO/Cornelius Meister rec. 2016 CAPRICCIO C5316 [60:24] [RMo] A magnificent recording that breathes life into a work often dismissed as mere juvenilia when it is clearly so much more.

Frank MARTIN (1890-1974) Mass for Double Choir, Songs of Ariel Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Four Songs of the Virgin Mary, Romance of the Dandelions - Danish Ntl Vocal Ens/Marcus Creed rec. 2017 OUR RECORDINGS SACD 6.220671 [64:13] [LW] Exemplary accounts of Martin and Martinů a cappella works.

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Bouquet of Flowers Jan NOVÁK (1921-1984) Philharmonic Dances - Prague RSO & Philharmonic Ch/Tomáš Netopil rec. 2016/17 SUPRAPHON SU4220-2 [65:36] [MW] An outstanding release, indispensable for lovers of Martinů, and a fine introduction to Jan Novák.

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Complete Symphonies - ORF Vienna RSO/Cornelius Meister rec. 2011-17 CAPRICCIO C5320 [3 CDs: 182.04] [MC] I can’t praise this set highly enough.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus - Jean-Rodolphe Kars (piano) rec. 1976 PIANO CLASSICS PCL10134 [57:14 + 69:54] [SB] Everyone who cares for this work or who wishes to explore it should hear this.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus - Jean-Rodolphe Kars (piano) rec. 1976 PIANO CLASSICS PCL10134 [57:14 + 69:54] [JQ] A performance that joins the company of the elite.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Catalogue d’oiseaux - Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano) rec. 2017 PENTATONE PTC5186670 SACD [3 SACDs: 152:51] [DC] Intoxicating.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) La Nativité du Seigneur - Richard Gowers (organ) rec. 2017 KINGS COLLEGE KGS0025 [67:36] [DM]  A remarkably perceptive and profoundly moving performance; superlative sound, too.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Quartets - Joyce Yang (piano) Alexander String Qt rec. 2017 FOGHORN CLASSICS CD2018 [64:09] [DC] Very welcome on this reviewer’s desert island.

Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) María de Buenos Aires - Valentina Montoya Martinez (soprano), Nicholas Mulroy (tenor), Victor Villena (bandoneon) Mr McFall’s Chamber,  rec. 2016 DELPHIAN DCD34186 [44:27 + 43:45] [RH] A fabulous outing for Piazzolla’s ambitious operita in an inspired collaboration between Scottish and South American forces.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Prokofiev for Two - Martha Argerich, Sergei Babayan (pianos) rec. 2017 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 9854 [55.71] [RBe] An outstanding disc, which features world-class playing, exciting and delicate by turns.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Études-Tableaux - Steven Osborne (piano) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68188 [61:39] [RHa] Deeply satisfying accounts of Rachmaninov’s exploratory, atmospheric masterpieces from a master pianist.

Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764) & Christoph Willibald von GLUCK (1714-1787) Enfers - Stéphane Degout (baritone), Pygmalion/Raphaël Pichon rec. December 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902288 [78:17] [BW] A must for newcomers to the wonderful world of baroque opera, who will find it an excellent starting point, but equally valuable for the already converted.

Henriette RENIÉ (1875-1956) Cello Sonata, Pièce symphonique, Piano Trio - Trio Nuori rec. 2017 LIGIA LIDI0302325 [60:03] [SG] This is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying chamber music discs I’ve heard in a quite a while. 

Eugčne REUCHSEL (1900-1988) La Vie Du Christ, Bouquet de France - Simon Niemiński (organ) rec. 2017 RESONUS RES10217 [74:10] [MR] Marvellous music, wonderful playing, superb recording.

Joseph RHEINBERGER (1839-1901) Complete Organ Sonatas - Roger Sayer (organ) rec. 2015/16 PRIORY RECORDS PRCD1165 [6 CDs: 437:55] [SSi] This is a wonderful set, one that has already given me great listening pleasure.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonata Nos 13 & 14 Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Piano Sonata No. 2 - Lucas Debargue (piano) rec. 2017 SONY 88985465632 [67:47] [SG] Playing of freshness and spontaneity; Debargue certainly breaths new life into these works.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Trio No. 2, Arpeggione Sonata - Antje Weithaas (violin) Marie-Elizabeth Hecker (cello) Martin Helmchen (piano) rec. 2014/17 ALPHA 284 [73:24] [MW] Extraordinary, insightful performances.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Bo Skovhus (baritone) Stefan Vladar (piano) rec. 2016 CAPRICCIO C5291 [66:37] [GF] No single recording can give the whole truth about it, but this gets as close as possible.

Franz SCHUBERT (1798-1828) Winterreise - Florian Boesch (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano) rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68197 [70:55] [ST] Altogether superb.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Lieder Vol. 4 - Ian Bostridge (tenor) Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2015 WIGMORE HALL LIVE WHLIVE0091 [69:30] [JQ] A highly distinguished Schubert recital: artistry at the highest level.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1928) A Soprano’s Schubertiade - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2017 BIS BIS-2343 SACD [77.32] [MW] One of the great recitals: sheer bliss.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonata No. 21, Impromptus - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68213 [81.51] [RBe] An exceptional recording, which deserves a place in the pantheon of great Schubert recordings.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Octet - Isabelle Faust (violin) & ensemble rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902263 [70:11] [ST] I get the impression the performers must have had a wonderful time making the disc; it certainly gave me huge pleasure to listen to.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Octet - Dresdner Oktett rec. 2017 PROFIL PH18034 [64:44] [MC] A performance to treasure.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Trio No. 2 Lera AUERBACH (b. 1973) Piano Trios 1 & 2 - Delta Piano Trio rec. 2017 ODRADEK ODRCD350 [63:30] [RHa] The recording career of a brilliant Dutch trio starts here.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) The Golden Age - Bolshoi Ballet & O/Pavel Klinichev rec. 2016 BELAIR CLASSIQUES BAC443 Blu-ray [103 mins] [DHu] Nobody puts a foot wrong.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphonies Nos 4 & 11 - Boston SO/Andris Nelsons rec. 2017/18 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 5220 [2 CDs: 127:04] [DM] Performances of great strength and stature, peerlessly played and recorded; the pinnacle of Nelsons’ cycle thus far.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphonies Nos 4 & 11 - Boston SO/Andris Nelsons rec. 2017/18 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 5220 [2 CDs: 127:04] [JQ] This exceptionally fine pairing is certain to feature on my shortlist for Recordings of the Year.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Quintet, String Quartet No.2 - Dmitri Shostakovich (piano) Beethoven String Qt rec. 1955/6 VANGUARD CLASSICS OVC8077 [62.05] [DBi] A very important disc, essential for all devotees of this great composer.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882–1971) Le Sacre du printemps Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918 Printemps Serge RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Vesna - Rodion Pogassov (baritone) Royal Liverpool PO & Ch/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2016 ONYX 4182 [66:51] [ST] The best Rite of Spring in years.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Rite of Spring, Concerto for 2 solo pianos - Marc-André Hamelin, Leif Ove Andsnes (pianos) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68189 [64:52] [RHa] An unmissable and possibly unprecedented match-up of true piano heavyweights; their account of the Rite of Spring defies belief.

Josef SUK (1874-1935) Asrael Iša KREJČI (1904-1968) Serenata - Südwestfunk O Baden-Baden/Karel Ančerl rec. 1967 SWR CLASSIC SWR19055CD [74:54] [JC] A major addition to the Karel Ančerl discography.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Fantasias - Paolo Pandolfo (viola da gamba) rec. 2017 GLOSSA GCD920417 [56:05 + 44:53] [SSi] An excellent conclusion to the commemoration of the anniversary of the composer’s death.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Seliges Erwägen des bittern Leydens und Sterbens Jesu Christi - Freiburg Baroque O/Gottfried von der Goltz rec. 2017 APARTÉ AP175 [59:15 + 53:15] [DBi] Telemann continues to amaze and to belie his current lack of status: a must-hear recording.

Antonio VANDINI (1691-1778) Cello sonatas - Bologna Baroque rec. 2016 TACTUS TC692202 [56:31] [JV] These sonatas are major additions to the repertoire.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) The Four Seasons - Brecon Baroque/Rachel Podger (violin) rec. 2017 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA40318 SACD [75:24] [BW] Strongly recommended, though it’s disappointing that Podger and her team have not recorded the complete Op.8.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Sinfonia Antartica, Four Last Songs, Concerto for two pianos - Roderick Williams (baritone) Hélčne Mercier, Louis Lortie (pianos) Bergen PO/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHSA5186 SACD [77:47] [MG] Davis sets a new benchmark for the recordings of all three works.

Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883) Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Franz Hawlata (bass-baritone) Artur Korn (bass) Michael Volle (baritone) Bayreuth Festival Ch & O/Sebastian Weigle rec. 2008 OPUS ARTE OACD9031D [4 CDs: 268:03] [GF] One of the finest versions currently available; the performances are quite exceptional.

Johann Gottfried WALTHER (1684-1748) Complete Organ Music - Simone Stella (organ) rec. 2013 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94730 [12 CDs: 658:35] [JV] This is a splendid musical monument for one of the most important composers for the organ of the 18th century.

Eugène YSAŸE (1858-1931) Sonatas for Solo Violin - Stefan Tarara (violin) rec. 2017 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38241 SACD [75:00] [NB] An early disc of the year contender.

Alma Espańola Isabel Leonard (mezzo) Sharon Isbin (guitar) rec. 2016 BRIDGE 9491 [66:24] [GPu] An outstanding disc, of compelling beauty and passion; Leonard and Isbin cast revealing new light on pretty well every piece.

Ĺrstiderne Danish Ntl Vocal Ens/Bo Holten rec. 2018 OUR RECORDINGS 8.226911 [67.44] [MW] A wonderful introduction to traditional Danish song, gloriously performed.

Pierre d’Assy (bass) Airs & melodies rec. 1908/9 MUSIQUE EN WALLONIE MEW1683 [71:35 + 66:53] [JW] I can’t imagine this being done any better.

Dame Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano) Come to me in my dreams - Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2017/18 CHANDOS CHAN10944 [77:18] [MG] A wonderful selection of English song in performances from Connolly and Middleton of exemplary commitment and luminosity.

Das ewige Rätsel Johannes Martin Kränzle (baritone), Hilko Dumno (piano) rec. 2017 OEHMS CLASSICS OC1887 [69:04] [GF] An utterly satisfying recital, which includes my find of the year.

Exiled Works by Philips, Dering, Dowland, Morley & Holborne - Rose Consort of Viols, Ch of King’s College, Aberdeen/David J. Smith (harpsichord) VOX REGIS VXR0004 [66:32] [JV] This disc deserves the attention of all lovers of English renaissance music.

Fanfares Onyx Brass/John Wilson rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHSA5221 SACD [59:03] [NB] A superb disc, a collection distinguished by the brilliance of the music it contains and the exceptional manner in which it is played.

French Moments Piano trios by Debussy, Fauré & Roussel - Neave Trio rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHAN10996 [70:08] [GPJ] Performances to cherish, especially the Fauré.

Gabrieli for Brass: Venetian Extravaganza Royal Academy of Music & Juilliard School Brass/Reinhold Friedrich rec. 2017 LINN RECORDS CKD581 [76:00] [RHa] Magnificent engineering and stylish, invigorating performances set a high bar for this repertoire.

The Gluepot Connection Londinium Chamber Ch/Andrew Griffiths rec. 2017 SOMM SOMMCD0180 [75:26] [IL] This collection is heartily recommended. No doubt it will figure in my Recordings of the Year choice.

Improvisations for Two Organs The Catedral Metropolitana, Mexico City -Jürgen Essl, Jeremy Joseph (organs) rec. 2018 CYBELE RECORDS SACD061801 [60:08] [DC] Stunning in every regard.

In Sorrow’s Footsteps Works by Jackson, Palestrina, Allegri & Macmillan - The Marian Consort/Rory McCleery rec. 2018 DELPHIAN DCD34215 [63:19] [JQ] The Marian Consort’s splendid celebration of ten years of music-making.

Eileen Joyce (piano) The Complete Studio Recordings rec. 1933-1958 ELOQUENCE 482 6291 [10 CDs: 762:20] [SG] This superb collection will grace any historical piano recordings collection.

Liepāja Concerti - Vol. I Works by Dubra, Smidbergs, Esenvalds, Karlsons and Lacis - Liepāja SO/Atvars Lakstīgala rec 2013-2016 ODRADEK RECORDS ODRCD362 [63:06 + 75:27] [RHa] An often thrilling survey of new Latvian concertos brilliantly performed and vividly recorded.

The Lily and the Rose The Binchois Consort/Andrew Kirkman rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68228 [72:57] [BW]  Well up to the high standard of the Binchois Consort’s earlier releases.

Mallorca Edition Historic Organs Martin Schmeding (organ) rec. 2011 CYBELE RECORDS 001404 [6 SACDs: 458:29] [SG] For connoisseurs of historical instruments and distinguished organ playing this set is indispensable.

Organ Party Vol. 3 Kevin Bowyer (organ) rec. 2016 PRIORY RECORDS PRCD1171 [79:51] [JF] A remarkably enjoyable CD.

The Three Osokins in Latvian Piano Music Georgijs, Sergejs & Andrejs Osokins (piano) rec. 2017 SKANI LMIC060 [77:23] [SG] Latvia’s renowned musical family come together to celebrate their country’s centenary with a panorama of delights.

Pour la Duchesse du Maine Works by Bernier, Bourgeois & Mouret - Ens La Française rec. 2017 POLYMNIE POL503134 [55:01] [JV] By far the best disc with French cantatas that I have heard in recent years.

The Rare Treasure of Faith Selections from the hymnal of Hans Adolph Brorson - Phemius Consort rec. 2017 DACAPO 8.226123 [74:05] [SSi] An excellent disc which introduces the world of eighteenth-century Pietism through the hymnal of one of the movement’s leading lights.

Rawsthorne & Other Rarities Clare Wilkinson (mezzo) Harvey Davies (harpsichord) John Turner (recorder, bamboo pipe) Peter Lawson (piano) Stephanie Tress (cello) Solem Qt rec. 2017 DIVINE ART DDA25169 [78:30] [JF] An extraordinary disc.

Pedro Ruimonte en Bruselas Herman Stinders (organ) La Grande Chapelle/Albert Recasens rec. 2017 LAUDA LAU017 [63:00 + 51:20] [JV] An outstanding production from every possible angle.

Song of the North 441 Hz Chamber Ch/Anna Wilczewska rec. 2017 DUX 1405 [50:06] [GF] If you love choral music and plan to buy just one CD this year, be sure you buy this one!

Nathalie Stutzmann (contralto) Quella fiamma: Arie antiche - Orfeo 55 rec. 2016 ERATO 9029 576529 [73:20] [NH] Conceived with great intelligence, creativity and sympathy, and performed with consummate virtuosity and dedication.

Venice 1629 The Gonzaga Band/Jamie Savan rec. 2018 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10218 [68:27] [JV] Performances among the best I have heard in this kind of music recently.

Carlo Zecchi (piano) The Complete Cetra Recordings rec. 1930-1942 APR 6024 [72:38 + 76:13] [SG] One of the most compelling historical piano recordings that has ever come my way.

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