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Recommended Recordings 2019

Those marked with the ROTM symbol were chosen at the end of each month as the five best.

John Luther ADAMS (b. 1953) Become Desert - Seattle SO/Ludovic Morlot rec. 2018 CANTALOUPE CA21148 CD/DVD [40:22] [RHa] Monumental music, thrillingly played, concealing a terrifying message.

Kalevi AHO (b. 1949) Concertos for Trombone and Trumpet - Jörgen van Rijen (trombone), Alain De Rudder (trumpet), Antwerp SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2196 SACD [64:18] [DM] Two premium-quality concertos, stylishly played and magnificently recorded; Aho and BIS at their considerable best.

Charles-Valentin ALKAN (1813-1888) Symphony for Solo Piano; Concerto for Solo Piano - Paul Wee (piano) rec. 2017/18 BIS BIS-2465 SACD [78:32] [DM]  Meet barrister Paul Wee, a pianist of no small talent; dazzling rep, superbly recorded.

Pierre ATTAINGNANT (c1494-1551) Harpsichord Works - Glen Wilson (harpsichord) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.572999 [77:03] [JV] Fascinating survey of a repertoire of keyboard music that is hardly known.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Italian Concerto, Partita IV, Chaconne - Federico Colli (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20079 [59:42] [RHa] Colli’s second Chandos disc is an hour long; its emotional impact far exceeds that.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations - Trio Zimmermann rec. 2017/18 BIS RECORDS BIS-2347 SACD [73:30] [DC] My new reference for this work on anything other than a keyboard.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Violin Concertos - Isabelle Faust (violin) Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Bernhard Forck rec. 2017/18 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902335.36 [67:15 + 76:33] [ST] A daring reimagining of the canon.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Violin Concertos - Kati Debretzeni (violin); English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2018 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG732 [70:17] [BW]  Coupling considerations aside, this recording is up there with the best.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Violin Concertos - Kati Debretzeni (violin) English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2018 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG732 [70:15] [DD] Superb renditions of familiar and unfamiliar Bach violin concertos; sheer joy from start to finish.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cantatas - Thomanerchor Leipzig, Sächsisches Barockorchester/Gotthold Schwarz rec. 2018 ACCENTUS ACC30471 [55:02] [MR] Bach cantata recordings do not get better than this - the joy, spirit and enthusiasm of Bach’s own choir spills out of every bar.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Lute Suites - Franz Halász (guitar) rec. 2017/18 BIS BIS-2285 SACD [82:45] [DC] Might easily take the lead as a favourite in this repertoire.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Toccatas - Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68244 [76:53] [SSi] A wonderful disc.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) - Leo van Doesselaar, Erwin Wiersinga (organs) rec. 2019 MDG 9062137-6 SACD [73:54] [DC] Bach, organ and audiophile fans, please form an orderly queue.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Organ Works Vol. 3 - Masaaki Suzuki (organ) rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2421 [79:07] [MR] Simply peerless.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750), Johann Bernhard BACH (1679-1749) & Johann Ludwig BACH (1677-1731) Ouvertures - Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini (harpsichord) rec. 2018 NAÏVE OP30578 [2 CDs: 130:12] [DJB] Concerto Italiano have opened my ears afresh to these glorious works.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Christmas Oratorio - Thomanerchor, Leipzig Gewandhaus O/Gotthold Schwarz rec. 2018 ACCENTUS MUSIC ACC30469 [75:24 + 68:47] [GPJ] A simply magnificent performance of Bach’s great masterpiece, straight from the heart of Leipzig and the composer’s own church.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Piano Quintet Sandor VERESS (1917-1992) String Trio - Alexander Lonquich (piano), Barnabás Kelemen, Vilde Frang (violins), Katalin Kokas (viola), Nicolas Altstaedt (cello) rec. 2017 ALPHA 458 [61:50] [SSi] A wonderful disc.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) The Wooden Prince, The Miraculous Mandarin suite - Helsinki PO/Susanna Mälkki rec. 2017/18 BIS BIS-2328 SACD [73:07] [EJW] Virtuoso orchestral playing, superbly recorded.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Complete String Quartets - Diotima Qt rec. 2018 NAÏVE V5452 [3 CDs: 163:27] [SG] For those embarking on these works for the first time, choosing this new cycle will be well rewarded.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Racines - Florent Boffard (piano) rec. 2018 MIRARE MIR410 [59:00] [RWe] An outstanding recital, the best playing of this music on disc since Zoltán Kocsis.

Sir Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Piano Sonata, In the Night, Four Pieces, Legend Harriet COHEN (1895-1967) Russian Impressions - Mark Bebbington (piano) rec. 2017 SOMM SOMMCD0193 [79:20] [NB] One for both the dedicated Bax collector and the yet-to-be converted.

Amy BEACH (1867-1944) & Ethel SMYTH (1858-1944) Violin Sonatas Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896) Romances - Tasmin Little (violin) John Lenehan (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20030 [71:27] [SSi] This will certainly be a front runner in my deliberations for my choice for Recording of the Year.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas Nos 21, 25, 31 & 32 - Conrad Hansen (piano) rec. 1952-1963 MELOCLASSIC MC1047 [71:21] [SG] Beethoven playing of the highest order.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Complete String Quartets Vol. 2 - Cuarteto Casals rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902403.05 [3 CDs: 161:25] [SSi] A highly recommended recording which only makes me more eager to hear the final volume.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) String Quartets Vols 4-6 - Elias Quartet rec. 2014-15 WIGMORE HALL LIVE WHLL0089/92/93 [6 CDs: 324:32] [BW]  There’s no ‘best buy’ for these quartets, but the Elias Quartet are up there with a select handful of recordings.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas Nos 8, 14 & 23 - Oleg Akkuratov (piano) rec. 2017 MELODIYA MELCD1002552 [60:13] [RC] A superb debut disc.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas Nos 30-32 - Steven Osborne (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68219 [65:09] [CC] A stunning release, Osborne’s readings will, beyond doubt, move you.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas Nos 30-32 - Steven Osborne (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68219 [63:39] [RHa] Outstanding late Beethoven from a consummate artist, in vivid, natural sound - unmissable.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Bagatelles, Diabelli Variations - Imogen Cooper (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20085 [78.32] [RHa] A sincere, astutely layered and flawlessly delivered Diabelli Variations which ranks among the finest on disc.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2, Rondo - Boris Giltburg (piano) Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574151 [73:51] [MG] While Petrenko supports with customary flair, it’s Giltburg’s playing that’s special. 

George BENJAMIN (b. 1960) Lessons in Love and Violence - Stéphane Degout, Barbara Hannigan, Royal Opera House O/George Benjamin rec. 2018 OPUS ARTE OABD7199D Blu-ray [93 mins] [DBi] A magnificent production of a superb new opera - hold your nerve and buy it at once.

Sir George BENJAMIN (b. 1960) Lessons in Love and Violence - Stéphane Degout, Barbara Hannigan, O Royal Opera House/George Benjamin rec. 2018 OPUS ARTE DVD OA1221D [93:00] [RHa] Simply unmissable.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Roméo et Juliette - Sasha Cooke (mezzo) Nicholas Phan (tenor) San Francisco Symphony Ch & O/Michael Tilson Thomas rec. 2017 SFS MEDIA SFS0074 SACD [67.42 + 36.49] [MC] An outstanding version of Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette, which is beautifully performed and recorded.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Harold en Italie, Les Nuits d’été - Tabea Zimmermann (viola) Stéphane Degout (baritone) Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902634 [70:23] [JQ] Other Berlioz recordings this year will have to be pretty special to surpass the achievement of this terrific disc.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) La damnation de Faust - Mathias Vidal (tenor) Ch Marguerite Louise, Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2018 CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES CVS010 DVD [127 mins] [JQ] A performance of La damnation de Faust that is worthy of Berlioz’s genius in every way - vraiment magnifique!

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Symphonie fantastique; Overture Les Francs-Juges - Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2019 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902644 [65:45] [DM] C’est magnifique; a glowing tribute to composer and conductor alike.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Symphonie fantastique; Overture Les Francs-Juges - Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2019 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902644 [65:45] [JQ] There’s only one possible verdict on this disc: like the symphony itself, it’s fantastique!

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quartet No. 3, Piano Quintet - Hagen Quartet, Kirill Gerstein (piano) rec. 2014 MYRIOS CLASSICS MYR021 [80:17] [SG] This has to be one of the highlights of my listening year.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Concerto, Double Concerto - Tianwa Yang (Violin) Gabriel Schwabe (Cello) Deutsches SO/Antoni Wit rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573772 [72:25] [RC] In every respect, these fresh and vital interpretations by Yang and Schwabe make this disc a complete success.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Billy Budd - Jacques Imbrailo (baritone) Toby Spence (tenor) Ch & O Teatro Real Madrid/Ivor Bolton rec. 2017 BEL AIR CLASSIQUES BAC154 DVD [2 discs: 175 mins] [WH] An unforgettable staging of a masterpiece of the theatre.

Jeffrey BROOKS (b. 1956) The Passion - Molly Netter, Lucy Dhegrae, Philippa Thompson (voices), Bang on a Can All-Stars and Contemporaneous/David Bloom rec. 2018 CANTELOUPE CA21146 [40:31] [RHa] A disc which utterly satisfies on both aesthetic and emotional levels.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 9 - Pittsburgh SO/Manfred Honeck rec. 2018 REFERENCE RECORDINGS SACD FR-733 [63:12] [NB] A recording that forces itself towards the top of the list.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 9 - Philharmonie Festiva/Gerd Schaller rec. 2018 PROFIL PH18030 [37:09 + 50:13] [MC] An exceptional performance which makes a compelling case for the conductor’s own revised completion of the Finale.

John BUCKLEY (b. 1951) To the Northeast - Mornington Singers/Orla Flanagan rec. 2018 DIVINE ART DDA25187 [59:29] [JF] It is already shaping up to be one of my major discoveries of the year.

Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) Piano Concerto - Kirill Gerstein (piano) Tanglewood Festival Ch, Boston SO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2017 MYRIOS CLASSICS MYR024 [71:29] [ST] I’d be very surprised if this isn’t one of my discs of 2019.

Giovanni Stefano CARBONELLI (1694–1773) Sonate da Camera Nos. 7-12 - Illyria Consort/Bojan Čičić (violin) rec. 2019 DELPHIAN DCD34214 [78:18] [BW]  I defy anyone with the least degree of interest in baroque instrumental music not to enjoy this CD or its predecessor.

Francesco CAVALLI (1602-1676) La Calisto - Teresa Kubiak (soprano) Ugo Trama (bass) Glyndebourne Festival Ch, London PO/Raymond Leppard rec. 1971 ELOQUENCE 4829400 [2 CDs: 119: 59] [RWe] This wonderful performance catches some great singers in their prime.

Marco Antonio CAVAZZONI (c1490-c1560) Complete Works - Glen Wilson (harpsichord) rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.572998 [79:34] [JV] A disc of great importance.

Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894) L'étoile - Stephanie d'Oustrac (mezzo) Christophe Mortagne (tenor) Dutch Ntl Opera Ch, Residentie O den Haag/Patrick Fournillier rec. 2014 NAXOS Blu-ray NBD0091V [115:00] [PBW] It is the exposure this gem richly deserves.

Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643-1704) Histoires Sacrées - Ens Correspondances/ Sébastien Daucé rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902280.81 [2 CDs: 160:51 + DVD: 98:21] [SSi] I would have been happy to have either the CDs or the DVD, but both takes this recording to the heights of ‘recording of the year’ status.

Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643-1704) Les Plaisirs de Versailles, Les Arts Florissants - Teresa Wakim (soprano) Jesse Blumberg (baritone) Boston Early Music Festival Vocal & Chamber Ens/Paul O’Dette & Stephen Stubbs rec. 2019 CPO 555 283-2 [73:27] [GH] The plots may be minimal but the performances are a joy.

André CHERON (1695-1766) Sonates en duo et en trio - Ensemble Matis rec. 2015 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38550 [1:29:25] [JV] The level of the performances fully matches the quality of the sonatas.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Impromptus, Waltzes and Mazurkas - Pavel Kolesnikov (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68273 [76:40] [SG] Chopin playing does not get much better than this.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Impromptus, Waltzes and Mazurkas - Pavel Kolesnikov (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68273 [76:40] [MG] Kolesnikov conjures many magical moments.

Eric COATES (1886-1957) Orchestral Works Vol. 1 - BBC Philharmonic/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20036 [70.39] [NB] A stunning start to what will surely be a life-enhancing series.

Eric COATES (1886–1957) Orchestral Works Vol. 1 - BBC Philharmonic/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20036 [70:39] [BW]  Roll on Volume 2.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Grohg, Billy the Kid - Detroit SO/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2014 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559862 [62:45] [DM] An already promising cycle just got a whole lot better; super sonics from Soundmirror, too.

Gordon CROSSE (b. 1937) On the Shoreline - Lawson Trio, Manchester Sinfonia/Richard Howarth rec. 2017/18 PRIMA FACIE PFCD098 [78:34] [JF] A CD to relish: every work is full of interest and is performed with care, commitment and enthusiasm.

Carl CZERNY (1791-1857) Die Kunst der Präludierens - Kolja Lessing (piano) rec. 2016-18 CPO 555 169-2 [58:01 + 58:25] [DC] Surprise of the month.

Nancy DALBERG (1881-1949) String Quartets - Nordic String Quartet rec. 2018 DA CAPO SACD 6.220655 [71.08] [MW] Three superb and deeply moving quartets in outstanding performances.

Brett DEAN (b. 1961) Hamlet - Allan Clayton (tenor) Sarah Connolly (mezzo) Barbara Hannigan (soprano) London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2017 OPUS ARTE DVD OA1254D [185 mins] [RHa] A superb presentation of Brett Dean’s outstanding 2017 Glyndebourne ‘hit’.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Printemps, Nocturnes - Philharmonic Chamber Ch Europe, Singapore SO/Lan Shui rec. 2015, 2017 BIS BIS-2232 SACD [75:37] [DM] A quite splendid conclusion to Lan Shui’s Debussy project; the sonics are a treat, too.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Préludes Book 1, Estampes - Javier Perianes (piano) rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902301 [58:26] [RHa] Perianes’ modern Steinway account presents an outstanding, if contrasting approach to Alexander Melnikov’s revelatory Book 2.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Études Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Fauvettes de l’Hérault - Roger Muraro (piano) rec. 2017/18 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905304 [73:06] [SSi] A wonderful, committed performance and a fitting conclusion to Harmonia Mundi’s marking of the Debussy centenary.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) & Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) String Quartets - Tinalley String Qt rec. 2017 DECCA 4816906 [54:56] [RMo] World-class quartet-playing.

Alma DEUTSCHER (b. 2005) Cinderella - Opera San José O, Ch & Dancers/Jane Glover rec. 2018 SONY CLASSICAL 19075895049 DVD [2 discs: 150 min] [MBu] The vision of a young girl who had the chance to see her fairy-tale become reality.

Stephen DODGSON (1924-2013) Chamber Music with Harp and Guitar - Karolos rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573857 [81:57] [WH] Finely crafted music in performances that could not be bettered.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Il castello di Kenilworth - Jessica Pratt, Carmela Remigio (soprano) Xabier Anduaga (tenor) O & Ch Donizetti Opera/Riccardo Frizza rec. 2018 DYNAMIC Blu-ray 57834 [139 min] [RJF] A simple staging, superbly costumed, and sung by coloratura specialists, bring this operatic rarity to the fore.

Pascal DUSAPIN (b. 1955) Wenn du dem Wind, Aufgang, À quia - Natascha Petrinsky (mezzo soprano), Nicolas Hodges (piano), Carolin Widman (violin), O Ntl de Pays de la Loire/Pascal Rophé rec. 2017 BIS SACD BIS2262 [78:58] [GH] The experience of hearing this disc lives with you for some time afterwards.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) String Quartet No. 12, Piano Quintet - Joyce Yang (piano) Alexander String Qt rec. 2017/18 FOGHORN CLASSICS FCL2020 [66:22] [NB] I'm not sure when I got more pure pleasure from a disc in recent times.

Steve ELCOCK (b. 1957) Chamber Music Vol. 1 - Veles Ens rec. 2018 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0506 [79:36] [RHa] This outstanding disc offers further compelling evidence that the previously unrecognised Steve Elcock is a compositional force to be reckoned with.

Heino ELLER (1887-1970) Symphonic Poems - Estonian National SO/Olari Elts rec. 2018/2019 ONDINE ODE1335-2 [59:26] [JW] Add this to your Eller collection without delay.

Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946) El amor brujo, El retablo de Maese Pedro - Esperanza Fernández (cantaora) Alfredo García (baritone) Jennifer Zetlan (soprano) Jorge Garza (tenor) Perspectives Ens/Angel Gil-Ordóñez rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573890 [62:02] [LW] Winning performances of two Falla masterpieces.

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Requiem Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Figure humaine Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Trois Chansons - Ens Aedes, Les Siècles/Mathieu Romano rec. 2018 APARTÉ AP201 [59:21] [MR] An outstanding and unusual performance of the Fauré Requiem which probably gets closer to the spirit of the work than any other currently available.

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924), Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) & Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Violin Sonatas - Bomsori Kim (violin) Rafał Blechacz (piano) rec. 2018 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4836467 [62:54] [SG] A stunning recording just too good to miss.

Peter Racine FRICKER (1920-1990) Organ Music - Tom Winpenny (organ) rec. 2018 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0518 [75:29] [SG] As organ releases go, this one is outstanding and has my full-hearted recommendation.

Géza FRID (1904-1989) Orchestral Music: Historical Recordings - Het Brabants O/Michel Tabachnik, Radio PO/Willem van Otterloo, Jean Fournet rec. 1952-2001 ET'CETERA KTC1633 [77:23] [SG] Music melodically gifted, rooted in Hungary and its folklore, and occasionally spiced with neoclassicism.

Johann Jakob FROBERGER (1616–1667) Suites for Harpsichord Vol. 1 - Gilbert Rowland (harpsichord) rec. 2018 ATHENE ATH23204 [2 CDs: 119:70] [SSi] One of the finest recordings of Froberger’s harpsichord music I have heard, with a wonderful-sounding instrument and magnificent playing from Rowland.

Friedrich GERNSHEIM (1839-1916) String Quartets Vol. 1 - Diogenes Qt rec. 2017 CPO 777 387-2 [66.36] [MW] Wonderful works in inspiring performances.

Karl GOLDMARK (1830-1915) Symphonic Poems Vol. 1 - Bamberg SO/Fabrice Bollon rec. 2017 CPO 555 160-2 [70:19] [JW] An invigorating, heart-stirring and marvelous disc.

Charles-François GOUNOD (1818-1893) Symphonies - Icelandic SO/Yan Pascal Tortelier rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5231 SACD [61:47] [SSi] I cannot recommend this recording highly enough.

Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893) Faust - Benjamin Bernheim, Véronique Gens, Flemish Radio Ch, Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset rec. 2018 BRU ZANE BZ1037 [3 CDs: 174:28] [MC] An essential purchase.

Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893) Faust - Benjamin Bernheim (tenor) Veronique Gens (soprano) Andrew Foster-Williams (bass-baritone) Flemish Radio Ch, Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset rec. 2018 BRU ZANE BZ1037 [3 CDs: 174:28] [GF] A recording that should be in the collection of every admirer of this opera.

Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893) La Nonne Sanglante - Michael Spyres (tenor) Vannina Santoni (soprano) Accentus, Insula O/Laurence Equilbey rec. 2018 NAXOS NBD0097V Blu-ray [139 mins] [RC] A stunning account.

Pelle GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN (1932–2016) Complete String Quartets Vol. 1 - Nordic String Qt rec. 2017/18 DACAPO 8.226217 [62:39] [SSi] An excellent introduction to the music of Gudmundsen-Holmgreen.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Enemies in Love - Natalia Kawałek (mezzo) Jakub Józef Orliński (countertenor) Il Giardino d'Amore/Stefan Plewniak rec. 2016 ËVOE RECORDS 005 [56:29] [MC] A fascinating Handel collection outstandingly sung.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Ode for Saint Cecilia's Day, Concerto Grosso - Ian Bostridge (tenor) Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Polish Radio Ch/Dunedin Consort/John Butt (harpsichord) rec. 2018 LINN RECORDS CKD578 [61.15] [MC] An outstanding performance crammed with vitality and colour.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Johannes-Passion - La Capella Ducale, Musica Fiata/Roland Wilson rec. 2017 CPO 5551732 [77:34] [JV] Superior performance of a Passion, whose authorship is still not established, but which deserves much more attention.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Samson - Joshua Ellicott (tenor) Sophie Bevan (soprano) Tiffin Boys’ Ch, Dunedin Consort/John Butt rec. 2018 LINN CKD599 [3 CDs: 204:14] [ST] The best Handel oratorio I’ve heard in years.

Perttu HAAPANEN (b. 1972) Compulsion Island, Ladies’ Room, Flute Concerto - Helena Juntunen (soprano) Yuki Koyama (flute) Finnish Radio SO/Hannu Lintu, Dima Slobodeniouk rec. 2016-18 ONDINE ODE1307-2 [62:41] [RHa] Major composer alert: three bright new works from an invigorating, original voice.

Karl Amadeus HARTMANN (1905-1963) String Quartets No. 1-2 Anton WEBERN (1883-1945) Langsamer Satz - Airis String Quartet rec. 2018 CD ACCORD ACD245-2 [63:09] [GH] I cannot recommend this disc too highly.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphony No. 82 Jean-Baptiste DAVAUX (1742-1822) & François DEVIENNE (1759-1803) Symphonies concertante - Le Concert de la Loge/Julien Chauvin rec. 2017 APARTÉ AP186 [64:38] [DJB] Wonderfully vivacious playing and two excellent unknown works to accompany a Haydn masterpiece.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) The Creation - Mari Eriksmoen (soprano) Daniel Schmutzhard (baritone) Martin Mitterrutzner (tenor) Accentus, Insula O/ Laurence Equilbey rec. 2017 NAXOS NBD0080V Blu-ray [138 mins] [DBi] Haydn's great oratorio successfully re-imagined without loss of musical quality.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Complete Symphonies - Vienna CO/Ernst Märzendorfer rec. 1967-71 SCRIBENDUM SC818 [33 CDs] [SG] This pioneering venture will be a source of great joy for Haydn devotees.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Variations & Pieces for Piano - Ekaterina Derzhavina (piano) rec. 2016 PROFIL PH19027 [46:30 + 54:54] [MC] Outstanding piano playing of the highest integrity.

Kenneth HESKETH (b. 1968) Knotted Tongues, Of Time and Disillusionment, In Ictu Oculi – BBC Ntl O of Wales/Christoph-Mathias Mueller rec. 2017 PALADINO MUSIC PMR0092 [54:42] [RHa] Three compelling orchestral essays in fastidiously prepared performances.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Complete Works for Violin & Piano - Roman Mints (violin) Alexander Kobrin (piano) rec. 2017 QUARTZ QTZ2132 [77:13] [SSi] A wonderful disc for anyone looking for a disc of Hindemith’s four sonatas for violin and piano.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Ludus Tonalis - Käbi Laretei (piano) rec. 1965 ELOQUENCE 484 0142 [54:04] [SB] A legendary recording receives its first CD issue and turns out to deserve its reputation.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Planets Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Enigma Variations - Bergen PO/Andrew Litton rec. 2013/17 BIS BIS2068 SACD [82:42] [RC] Litton with this fine orchestra would be my first choice in these works, hands down.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Planets Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Enigma Variations - Bergen PO/Andrew Litton rec. 2013/17 BIS BIS2068 SACD [82:42] [JQ] An excellent ‘Enigma’ Variations and a terrific account of The Planets, both in magnificent sound.

Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL (1778-1837) Hummel Edition rec. 1995-2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95792 [20 CDs:] [SSi] An excellent collection which is sure to bring anyone interested in this period of music many hours of enjoyment.

Elisabeth JACQUET DE LA GUERRE (1665-1729) Chamber Music from the Brossard Collection - The Bach Players rec. 2017 COVIELLO CLASSICS COV91815 [67:35] [JV] These sonatas have found enthusiastic advocates in The Bach Players.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) The Diary of One who Disappeared Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Biblical Songs Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Evening Songs - Vilém Přibyl (tenor) Libuše Márová (mezzo) Milan Máša, Josef Páleníček (piano) Kühn Mixed Ch/Pavel Kühn rec. 1971-77 SUPRAPHON SU4269-2 [69:43] [JW] Outstanding performances which have withstood time’s scrutiny with the greatest authority.

Leoš JANÁCEK (1854-1928) The Diary of One Who Disappeared; Moravian Folk Poetry In Songs - Václava Housková (mezzo-soprano), Voice, Victoria Samek (clarinet), Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68282 [62:21] [SSi] Wonderful performances of each works, and blessed with equally fine production values.

Leoš JANÁCEK (1854-1928) The Diary of One Who Disappeared, Říkadla, Moravian folksongs - Václava Housková (mezzo) Victoria Samek (clarinet) Julius Drake (piano) Voice Ens rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68282 [62:21] [RHa] Another Hyperion winner, distinguished by the scintillating and insightful musicianship of all involved.

Prince JOHANN ERNST (1696-1715) Complete Violin Concertos - Thüringer Bach Collegium/Gernot Süssmuth rec. 2018 AUDITE 97.769 [63:37] [BW] Attractive accounts of music which Telemann admired and some of which Bach transcribed.

JOSQUIN des Prés (c.1450/55-1521) Missa Mater Patris Noel BAULDEWEYN (c.1480-1530) Missa Da pacem - The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips GIMELL CDGIM052 [72:26] [BW] Well up to the very high standard of earlier Josquin recordings in this series.

JOSQUIN Des Prez (c.1450/1455-1521) Sacred motets - Cappella Amsterdam/Daniel Reuss rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902620 [66:10] [DC] A gem of a disc.

Leon KIRCHNER (1919-2009) Sinfonia, Toccata, Music for Orchestra, Orchestra Piece, The Forbidden - Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Gil Rose rec. 2008-17 BMOP SOUND 1060 SACD [62:39] [SG] This is one of the most compelling recordings of modern music I've ever come across.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897–1957) Symphony; Theme and Variations for School Orchestra; Straussiana - Sinfonia of London/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5220 SACD [59:17] [BW]  Revelatory: the ‘Recommended’ tag seems to be mandatory.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Symphony, Theme & Variations, Straussiana - Sinfonia of London/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5220 SACD [59.17] [DBi] This ranks as the best surround recording of an orchestra I have heard; the excellent performance of a rarity by Korngold adds icing to the cake.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Symphony, Theme & Variations, Straussiana - Sinfonia of London/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5220 SACD [59.17] [JQ] John Wilson’s excellent performance offers a refreshing and stimulating different perspective on Korngold’s fine symphony.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Das Wunder der Heliane - Sara Jakubiak (soprano) Brian Jagde (tenor) Ch & O Deutsche Oper Berlin/Marc Albrecht rec. 2018 NAXOS 2.110584-85 DVD [2 discs: 167 mins] [PCG] A truly ground-breaking achievement, a magnificent set which deserves every success.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) & Alexander von ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) Piano Trios - Stefan Zweig Trio rec. 2018 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38264 SACD [60:05] [SG] A stunning debut disc, and one that I shall be returning to often.

Friedrich KUHLAU (1786-1832) & Otto MALLING (1848-1915) Piano Quartets - Copenhagen Piano Qt rec. 2015/16 DACAPO 6.220591 SACD [64:22] [PRB] Exceedingly well-crafted, highly enjoyable works given excellent performances.

Francesco LANDINI (ca.1330-1397) L’occhio del cor - La Reverdie, Christophe Deslignes (organetto) rec. 2018 ARCANA A462 [64:56] [GPu] There is much here that is ravishingly beautiful, most of it shot through with the poignant fact of Landini’s blindness.

Eduard LASSEN (1830-1904), Ludwig Philipp SCHARWENKA (1847-1917) & Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952) Violin Concertos - Linus Roth (violin), BBC Scottish SO/Antony Hermus rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68268 [76:37] [RB] Artistry that flickers, surges and pursues a legato path.

Jón LEIFS (1899-1968) Edda, Part II: The Lives of the Gods - Hanna Dóra Sturludóttir (mezzo) Elmar Gilbertsson (tenor) Kristinn Sigmundsson (bass) Schola Cantorum Reykjavík, Iceland SO/Hermann Bäumer rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2420 SACD [65:10] [RHa] An absolutely thrilling disc.

Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929–1988) Sacred Choral Works - St Mary’s Cathedral Ch, Edinburgh/Duncan Ferguson rec. 2019 DELPHIAN DCD34218 [79:36] [BW] A very fine recording from which to get to know Leighton’s choral music, or, better still, to add to other collections.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Paraphrase de concert sur Rigoletto; Transcendental Études - Boris Giltburg (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573981 [79:30] [JWe] A super recording from a brilliant pianist.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Années de pèlerinage, troisième année & other late piano works - Cédric Tiberghien (piano) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68202 [80:15] [SB] A masterful introduction to the strange world of late Liszt.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Harmonies poétiques et religieuses - Wojciech Waleczek (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573773 [72:27] [DM] Wojciech Waleczek joins that select group of pianists doing so much to revive interest in this extraordinary repertoire; as ever, top-notch sound is a considerable bonus.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Années de pèlerinage, troisième année & other late piano works - Cédric Tiberghien (piano) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68202 [80:15] [RWe] One of the very best discs of these late works now in the catalogue.

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) Symphonies 1 & 4; Jeux Vénitiens - Finnish RSO/Hannu Lintu rec 2017/18 ONDINE ODE1320-5 SACD [57:21] [RHa] Lutosławski’s first and last symphonies in exemplary performances and outstanding sound.

John McLEOD (b. 1934) Piano Music - Murray McLachlan, Rose McLachlan (piano) rec. 2017 MÉTIER MSV77207 [78:46 + 81:01] [PRB] An outstanding set.

James MacMILLAN (b. 1959) String Quartets Nos 1-3 - Royal String Qt rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68196 [71:00] [SB] Impressive and rewarding works.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Titan - Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905299 [57:04] [JQ] Ear-opening Mahler from François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Titan - Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905299 [57:04] [DM]  Quite possibly Roth’s finest Mahler yet; an invaluable addition to the catalogue.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 3 - Sara Mingardo (contralto); Gürzenich O Köln/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905314.15 [2 CDs: 93:23] [DM] A game-changing Mahler 3 from Roth and his German band; outstanding sonics, too.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 4 - Sofia Fomina (soprano) London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2016 LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA LPO-0113 [59:07] [RMo] A glorious reminder of what a boon Jurowski has been to the orchestra.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1991) Symphony No. 6 - Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2018 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER BPHR180231 CD/Blu-ray [161.46] [JQ] The Berliner Philharmoniker here marks the end of the Rattle era in some style.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 7 - Budapest Festival O/Iván Fischer rec. 2015 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA38019 SACD [74:45] [DM]  Iván Fischer follows his revitalising Third with a similarly talented Seventh; as before, the engineering is first rate.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 7 - Budapest Festival O/Iván Fischer rec. 2015 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA38019 SACD [74:45] [JQ] Iván Fischer’s Mahler series ends on a very high note indeed.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No.8 - Tokyo Juventus PO/Kenshiro Sakairi rec. 2018 ALTUS 012/3 [82:00] [MB] All in all, a magnificent disc.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 9  - Bamberger SO/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 2018 ACCENTUS ACC30477 [45:54 + 37:37] [JQ] This distinguished performance is worthy of a place of honour in any Mahler collection.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 9 - Bamberg SO/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 2018 ACCENTUS ACC30477 [45:54 + 37:37] [DM] An outstanding Mahler 9, supremely well played and recorded; a very significant addition to the catalogue.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 9 - Boston Philharmonic Youth O/Benjamin Zander rec. 2018 BRATTLE MEDIA BM 2CD-QZ8LQ18-06 [28:56+57:15] [JQ] A recording of the Ninth that can sit proudly in any Mahler collection.

Gustav MAHLER (1860–1911) Rückert-Lieder, Kindertotenlieder, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen - Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo) Nils Anders Mortensen (piano) rec. 2016 LAWO LWC1157 [55:29] [GF] This will join the ranks of the very best Mahler I have in my collection.

Wynton MARSALIS (b. 1961) Violin Concerto, Fiddle Dance Suite - Nicola Benedetti (violin) Philadelphia O/Cristian Măcelaru rec. 2017/19 DECCA 485 0013 [67:03] [RHa] Two meaty pieces that will move both heart and feet.

Joseph MARX (1882-1964) Eine Herbstsymphonie - Graz PO/Johannes Wildner rec. 2018 CPO 555 262-2 [67:00] [RB] Super-glowing autumnal radiance never missing a glorious beat.

Joseph MARX (1882-1964) Eine Herbstsymphonie - Graz PO/Johannes Wildner rec. 2018 CPO 555 262-2 [67:00] [JW] A triumph.

Joseph MARX (1882-1964) Romantisches Klavierkonzert, Castelli Romani - David Lively (piano) Bochum SO/Steven Sloane rec. 2004 NAXOS 8.573834 [72:48] [PRB] The most enjoyable CD I have had the pleasure of reviewing for some considerable time.

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Las vie d’une rose - Sally Silver (soprano) Christine Tocci (mezzo) Richard Bonynge (piano) rec. 2017 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0600 [71:41] [IL] Excellent throughout.

David MATTHEWS (b 1943) Symphony No. 9, Variations for Strings, Double Concerto - Sara Trickey (violin) Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola) English SO/Kenneth Woods rec. 2018 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6382 [63:55] [RHa] David Matthews is arguably the greatest living English symphonist, and his Ninth is more than worthy of its number.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Piano Concertos - Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano) Die Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2016/17 BIS SACD BIS2264 [74.08] [DBi] Mendelssohn keyboard concerti performed to perfection with a recording to match.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2, Variations serieuses, Rondo capriccioso, Venetian Boat Song - Jan Lisiecki (piano) Orpheus CO rec. 2018 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4836471 [63:53] [SG] Pianism at its very best.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) La Nativité du Seigneur - Richard Gowers (organ) rec. 2017 KING’S COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE KGS0025 [67:40] [ST] This marvellous recording has helped me become a Messiaen convert.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte Trinité - Tom Winpenny (organ) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573979 [73:47] [DM] Winpenpenny’s finest Messiaen yet; superb sound, too.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Le Tombeau resplendissant; Les Offrandes oubliées; Un sourire; L'Ascension - Tonhalle-O Zürich/Paavo Järvi rec. 2019 ALPHA CLASSICS 548 [64.48] [MC] Certainly one of the most satisfying albums that I have heard so far this year.

Marcin MIELCZEWSKI (d. 1651) Vocal Works Vols 1 & 2 - Wrocław Baroque Ens/Andrzej Kosendiak rec. 2016/17 CD ACCORD ACD227-2/248-2 [72:47 + 53:26] [SSi] Highly recommended; this will widen your baroque musical horizons.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria  - Furio Zanasi, Lucile Richardot, Monteverdi Ch & English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2017 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG730 [3 CDs: 185:10] [SG] Music-making of the highest order.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria - Furio Zanasi (baritone), Monteverdi Ch, English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2017 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG730 [3 CDs: 185:10] [RHa] A superb performance and terrific recording of Monteverdi’s late opera.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto No. 20, Piano Sonatas Nos 3 & 12 - Seong-Jin Cho (piano) CO of Europe/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2018 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4835522 [63:43] [SG] Mozart playing of authority and distinction.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos Nos 15 & 16, Piano & Wind Quintet - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) Manchester Camerata/Gábor Takács-Nagy rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20035 [71:03] [RBe] Worthy to sit alongside the great Mozart concerto recordings.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) The Final Quartets  - Alexander String Qt rec. 2017 FOGHORN CLASSICS FCL2016 [51:14 + 50:50] [DC] Performances and a recording to relish.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) La clemenza di Tito K621 (arr. wind trio), Divertimenti K439b - Trio Roseau rec. 2018 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM SACD 903 2095-6 [62:42] [SSi] Wonderful music in faithful arrangements in performances of the highest quality.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) Piano Concertos Nos 20 & 21, Don Giovanni Overture - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) Manchester Camerata/Gábor Takács-Nagy rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20083 [65:08] [RC] My first choice for this coupling.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Horn Concertos - Felix Klieser (horn) Camerata Salzburg rec. 2018 BERLIN CLASSICS 0301188BC [52:31] [MR] Polished, pristine performances delivered with extraordinary fluency and flawless precision by the truly remarkable Felix Klieser.

Thea MUSGRAVE (b. 1928) Phoenix Rising, Loch Ness, Poets in Love - BBC Ntl O Wales/William Boughton rec. 2018 LYRITA SRCD372 [62:49] [JQ] The whole disc is rewarding but Phoenix Rising is something special.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Woodwind Quintet György LIGETI (1923-2006) Bagatelles Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) String Quartet No. 12 - Ens Ouranos rec. 2018 NOMADMUSIC NMM056 [61:55] [MC] One of the finest albums of wind music I have had the pleasure of hearing for some time.

Pehr Henrik NORDGREN (1944-2008) A Finnish Elegy - Juri Valo (violin) Jukka Harju (horn) Ostrobothnian CO/Juha Kangas rec. 2016/17 ALBA ABCD425 SACD [60:20] [RHa] It is only a matter of time before the world outside Finland recognises Nordgren’s importance.

Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880) Le Royaume de Neptune - Deutsches SO Berlin/Howard Griffiths rec. 2019 CPO 555301-2 [60:25] [RW] Captivating from start to finish with bubbles of champagne popping throughout the music.

Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI (1860-1941) & Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Concertos - Claire Huangci (piano), Deutsche Radio Philharmonie/Shiyeon Sung rec. 2018 BERLIN CLASSICS 0301096BC [75:31] [RC] This account of the Chopin First is not to be missed, and even if you’re not a fan of the Paderewski Concerto, you’ll have to admire Huangci’s thrilling performance.

Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (ca.1525-1694) Missa Tu es Petrus - Ch St Luke in the Fields/David Shuler rec. 2017 MSR CLASSICS MS1698 [63:43] [MR] The combination of an outstanding choir, a deeply perceptive conductor and sumptuous recorded sound makes this an essential Palestrina recording.

Bartłomiej PĘKIEL (d. ca 1666) Choral Works Vols 1 & 2 - Wrocław Baroque Ens/Andrzej Kosendiak rec. 2015-2016  CD ACCORD ACD2222/2402 [66:18 & 61:03] [SSi] There is much of interest on these discs, one in the high renaissance style, the other in the early baroque style.

Giovanni Benedetto PLATTI (c1697 - 1763) Sonate à tre - Radio Antiqua rec. 2018 RAMÉE RAM1801 [72:32] [JV] One of the best chamber music recordings I have heard in recent times.

Florence Beatrice PRICE (1887-1953) Symphonies Nos 1 & 4 - Fort Smith Symphony/John Jeter rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.559827 [69:04] [SG] Music steeped in the European tradition, embodying an American idiom and revealing the composer’s Southern roots.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Sonata for Two Pianos, 12 Improvisations - Onda Verde (pianos) rec. 2016/18 PALADINO MUSIC PMR0098 [75:00] [MR] Onda Verde bring out every facet of Poulenc’s astonishingly varied personality in these delightfully-tailored performances of his four-handed and two-piano music.

Hieronymus PRAETORIUS (1560–1629) Motets - Alamire/David Skinner ref. 2018, 2019 INVENTA RECORDS INV001 [57:46 + 42:39] [BW] The quality of the music, performances, recording and presentation all add up to a clear recommendation.

Michael PRAETORIUS (1571-1621) Lutheran Mass for Christmas Morning - Gabrieli Consort and Players/Paul McCreesh rec. 2017 CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES CVS003 DVD [121 mins] [JQ] An outstanding and inspired musical reconstruction which brings the music of early seventeenth-century Germany vividly to life.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Sonatas, 5 Melodies - Levon Ambartsumian (violin) Anatoly Sheludyakov, Alexander Ardakov (piano) PHOENIX USA PHCD184 [61:51] [CSe] Russian masterworks delivered by a master from the Russian tradition.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Romeo and Juliet - Stuttgart Ballet, Stuttgart O/James Tuggle rec. 2017 C MAJOR 801008 DVD [2 discs: 220 mins] [SB] A wonderful realization of the Cranko version by its home company.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Romeo & Juliet Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Études Tableaux - Dzmitry Ulasiuk (piano) rec. 2017 CENTAUR CRC3698 [62:12] [RC] A debut album which must be regarded as a major achievement.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Concerto No. 2 Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1841-1893) Piano Concerto No. 1 - Haochen Zhang (piano) Lahti SO/Dima Slobodeniouk rec. 2018 BIS BIS2381 SACD [66:29] [RBe] Soloist and orchestra excel.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Tales of an old Grandmother, Études, Visions fugitives, Piano Sonata No. 6 - Florian Noack (piano) rec. 2019 LA DOLCE VOLTA LDV74 [72:13] [RCh] Classic Prokofiev played with exemplary pianism.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Madama Butterfly - Ermonela Jaho (soprano) Marcelo Puente (tenor) Royal Opera House Ch & O/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2017 OPUS ARTE OABD7244D Blu-ray [150 mins] [RC] This is now my choice for this opera on video, particularly for the work of Ermonela Jaho.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Madama Butterfly - Ermonela Jaho (soprano), Marcelo Puente (tenor), O & Ch of The Royal Opera House/Antonio Pappano rec. 2017 OPUS ARTE OA1268D DVD [149 mins] [RJF] Cast, set and musical performance, together with superb acted and sung realisations, make this one of the finest realisations of this work on film.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Manon Lescaut - Licia Albanese (soprano) Jussi Björling (tenor) Metropolitan Opera O & Ch/Dimitri Mitropoulos rec. 1956 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO158 [78:51 + 48:08] [RMo] A sparkling performance, capturing the best of Björling’s appearances as Des Grieux in excellent, refurbished sound.

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) King Arthur - Mhairi Lawson, Carolyn Sampson (sopranos) Roderick Williams (baritone) Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh rec. 2019 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD589 [53:25 + 44:13] [ST] Another presentation of the highest quality.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 4 - Daniil Trifonov (piano) Philadelphia O/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2015/18 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 5335 [70:17] [MC] This has been a near permanent fixture in my CD player.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concertos 1-4, Paganini Rhapsody - Sergei Rachmaninov (piano) Philadelphia O/Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy rec. 1929-41 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC544 [2 CDs: 137:25] [EJW] An astonishing remastering of these legendary recordings.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Complete Preludes - Boris Giltburg (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.574025 [79:55] [RWe] A tremendous account of the complete Preludes, and on a very fine instrument very well recorded.

Sergey RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Complete Preludes - Boris Giltburg (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.574025 [79:55] [RC] Giltburg misses no aspect in these works, capturing every mood swing with imposing technical skills, delivering as fine an account of these difficult works as I’ve ever encountered.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) & Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899) Piano Trios - Vienna Piano Trio rec. 2019 MDG 9422130-6 SACD [59:05] [DBi] A highly recommended pairing.

Steve REICH (b. 1936) Sextet, Double Sextet - Ekkozone/Mathias Reumert rec. 2014/16 MODE RECORDS MODCD300 [49:54] [DC] Second to none.

Antoine REICHA (1770-1836) Rediscovered Vol. 2 - Ivan Ilić (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20033 [62:35] [CC] Fascinating music … a fabulous disc.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Ricciardo e Zoraide - Pretty Yende, Juan Diego Flórez, O Nazionale della RAI/Giacomo Sagripanti rec. 2018 C MAJOR 752608 DVD [2 DVDs: 176 mins] [CRa] A feast of first-class singing lifts a forgotten opera to the heights.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Ricciardo e Zoraide - Pretty Yende, Juan Diego Flórez, O Nazionale della RAI/Giacomo Sagripanti rec. 2018 C MAJOR Blu-ray 752704 [176 mins] [RJF] A pleasure to see this staged with such a superb cast and without being subject to undue producer idiosyncrasies. 

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Il barbiere di Siviglia - Riccardo Stracciari (baritone), Mercedes Capsir (soprano), Ch & O La Scala, Milan, Lorenzo Molajoli rec. 1929 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO161 [64:49 + 60:59] [GF] One of the most legendary opera recordings of the inter-war years, unavailable for far too long.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) L’italiana in Algeri - Ildar Abdrazakov (bass) Rebeca Olvera (soprano) Ens Matheus/Jean-Christophe Spinosi rec. May 2018 UNITEL DVD 801808 [162 mins] [RJF] While I would have preferred a more traditional production, I go along with, and greatly enjoy, the outstanding sung interpretations and some aspects of the staging.

Albert ROUSSEL (1869-1937), Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958) & Enchaînées, André PRÉVOST (1934-2001) Violin Sonatas - Hélène Collerette (violin), Anne Le Bozec (piano) rec. 2016 RADIO FRANCE SIG11107 [64:11] [BSt] A splendid recital of unusual violin sonatas.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Piano Concertos Nos. 3-5 - Alexandre Kantorow (piano); Tapiola Sinfonietta/Jean-Jacques Kantorow rec. 2016, 2018 BIS BIS-2300 SACD [80:37] [DM]  Alexandre Kantorow eschews runaway virtuosity for something much more thoughtful and illuminating; très extraordinaire.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Ascanio - Jean-François Lapointe (baritone), Bernard Richter (tenor), Ch & O de la Haute École de Musique de Genève/Guillaume Tourniaire rec. 2017 B RECORDS LBM013 [190 mins] [SSi] A wonderful performance which is a must for all fans of the music of Saint-Saëns and French Grand Opera.

Antonio SALIERI (1750-1825) Tarare - Cyrille Dubois, Jean-Sebastian Bou, Karine Deshayes, Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset rec. 2018 APARTÉ AP208 [3 CDs: 164:13] [SSi] This intriguing work will bring hours of enjoyment.

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) 52 Sonatas - Lucas Debargue (piano) rec. 2018 SONY 19075944462 [4 CDs: 235:06] [SG] A fusion of imagination, musicality, flair and technical prowess.

Friedrich SCHNEIDER (1786–1853) Das Weltgericht - Gewandhaus Ch, camerata lipsiensis/Gregor Meyer rec. 2016 CPO 555 119-2 [58:50 + 35:57] [GF] The find of the year.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Verklärte Nacht Arthur HONEGGER (1892-1955) Symphony No. 2 - Baltic CO/Leducq-Barôme rec. 2018 RUBICON RCD1043 [56.30] [DBi] A superb disc which I would put into the essential category.

Franz SCHREKER (1878-1934) Orchestral works - Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Christopher Ward rec. 2018 CAPRICCIO C5348 [68:32] [NB] A really fine disc where the familiar works match or supersede known versions and the ‘new’ pieces prove to be exceptionally interesting and superbly performed.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828) Heimweh - Anna Lucia Richter (soprano), Gerold Huber (piano), Matthias Schorn (clarinet) rec. 2018 PENTATONE PTC5186722 SACD [80:58] [GF] I was deeply touched by the whole programme.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphonies Vol. 1 - City of Birmingham SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5234 SACD [74:11] [MG] These spirited, state-of-the-art accounts are crowned by the most sensitive and satisfying account of the Unfinished I have ever heard.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Ian Bostridge (tenor), Thomas Adès (piano) rec. 2018 PENTATONE PTC5186764 [72:26] [RC] An essential addition to your Winnterreise collection.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Schwanengesang Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Vier ernste Gesänge - Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68288 [73:21] [JQ] A deeply satisfying disc.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonatas Michael FINNISSY (b. 1946) Schubert Sonata completion Jörg WIDMANN (b. 1973) Idyll und Abgrund - Yehuda Inbar (piano) rec. 2018 OEHMS CLASSICS OC1712 [71:36] [DC] Schubert-plus: superbly performed as well as being daring and exploratory.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonata No. 20, Minuets - Arcadi Volodos (piano) rec. 2017-19 SONY CLASSICAL 19075868292 [55:42] [RMo] Belongs in the collection of every devotee of Schubert’s piano music.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphony No. 9 - Scottish CO/Maxim Emelyanychev rec. 2019 LINN CKD619 [54:30] [ST] Take a bow, everyone involved.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Grande Sonate No. 3; Faschingsschwank aus Wien; Drei Fantasiestücke; Gesänge der Frühe - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20081 [74:26] Great playing from one of the greatest pianists of his generation (RBe review) Lesser-known Schumann in fearless, lived-in and deeply empathic accounts from a Frenchman who remains at the top of his game (RHa review)

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Minnespiel, Spanisches Liederspiel, Spanische Liebeslieder - Anna Palimina (soprano) Marion Eckstein (contralto) Simon Bode (tenor) Matthias Hoffmann (bass-baritone) Ulrich Eisenlohr, Stefan Irmer (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573944 [60:22] [RBe] Recommended for the exceptionally high quality of the singing and playing.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Liederkreis, Kernerlieder - Matthias Goerne (baritone) Leif Ove Andsnes (piano) rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902353 [53:29] [ST] This has to be one of my discs of the year.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Liederkreis; Zwölf Gedichte von Justinus Kerner - Matthias Goerne (baritone), Leif Ove Andsnes (piano) rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902353 [53:29] [GF] Goerne’s Schumann is on a par with the best offerings from the past and may well surpass them.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Myrten - Christian Gerhaher (baritone), Camilla Tilling (soprano), Gerold Huber (piano) rec. 2017-2019 SONY 19075945362 [49:00] [RWe] This new instalment in Gerhaher’s Schumann series is outstanding.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Complete Preludes - Dmitri Alexeev (piano) rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95651 [56:51 + 63:43] [SB] A splendid new set of these demanding works.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Piano Works - Gordon Fergus-Thompson (piano) rec. 1990-2000 ELOQUENCE 482 9034 [5 CDs: 372:59] [SG] A must-have for all Scriabin devotees.

Percy SHERWOOD (1866-1939) Suite & Sonata for 2 pianos Hubert PARRY (1848-1918) Grosses Duo - Parnassius Piano Duo rec. 2018 LYRITA SRCD.368 [79:01] [JW] There’s nothing to dislike here and much to admire.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony No. 7 - Leningrad PO/ Evgeny Mravinsky rec. 1953 VANGUARD CLASSICS OVC1030 [72.37] [DBi] An extraordinary and historic recording that should be in all collections of 20th century music.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) & Dmitri KABALEVSKY (1904-1987) Cello Sonatas - Steven Isserlis (cello) Olli Mustonen (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68239 [76:33] [SSi] Performances of real integrity and understanding.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphonies Nos 6 & 7, King Lear Suite, Festival Overture - Boston SO/Andris Nelsons rec. 2017 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 6728 [53:38 + 78:24] [JQ] Another significant addition to what is fast becoming a notable Shostakovich series.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Sonatas, Preludes - Andrey Gugnin (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68267 [79:27] [DC] One of the finest piano discs to come my way this year.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Sonatas No. 1-2, 24 Preludes - Andrey Gugnin rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68267 [79:27] [GPJ] A simply stunning recital of this wonderful repertoire.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphony No. 1; En Saga - Gothenburg Symphony/Santtu-Matias Rouvali rec. 2018 ALPHA 440 [58:44] [EJW] A truly superb disc, in excellent sound.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphony No.1; En Saga - Gothenburg Symphony/Santtu-Matias Rouvali rec. 2018 ALPHA 440 [58:44] [BW]  Strong claims to be considered a top recommendation in a very competitive field.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Complete symphonies - O de Paris/Paavo Järvi rec. 2012-16 RCA RED SEAL 19075924512 [3 CDs: 231:46] [WH] A satisfying and thought-provoking Sibelius cycle from an unexpected source.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Lemminkäinen Suite, Belshazzar's Feast Suite - BBC SO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20136 [71:34] [DM] Seductively sonorous Sibelius, brimming with colour and character; very impressive recording, too.

Dame Ethel SMYTH (1858-1944) Mass, The Wreckers Overture - BBC SO & Ch/Sakari Oramo rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5240 SACD [70:45] [JQ] Sakari Oramo finally brings Ethel Smyth’s Mass out of the shadows and reveals it as a work of accomplishment and stature.

Gaspare SPONTINI (1774–1851) Olimpie - Karina Gauvin (soprano) Kate Aldrich (mezzo) Mathias Vidal (tenor) Josef Wagner (bass) Flemish Radio Ch, Le Cercle de l’Harmonie/Jérémie Rhorer rec. 2016 BRU ZANE BZ1035 [58.24 + 76.08] [MC] A quite outstanding release.

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Fairy Day; Overture in the Style of a Tragedy; A Song of Agincourt; Verdun; A Welcome March - Kerry Stamp (soprano), Codetta, Ulster O/Howard Shelley rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68283 [65:32] [EJW] A truly splendid CD - every piece is well worth an extended listen.

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Mass Via Victrix, At the Abbey Gate - BBC Ntl Ch & O Wales/Adrian Partington rec. 2018 LYRITA SRCD382 [79:57] [JQ] After 99 years, Stanford’s Mass Via Victrix has finally emerged from the shadows in this splendid and important recording.

Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871-1927) Symphony No. 2, Serenade - Gothenburg SO/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 2013/14 BIS BIS-2424 SACD [83:21] [JQ] An outstanding disc containing performances of distinction.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Salome - Asmik Grigorian (soprano) John Daszak (tenor) Vienna PO/Franz Welser-Möst rec. 2018 UNITEL EDITIONS DVD 801608 [1:51:17] [WH] Shocking, strange, perplexing, yet riveting and not to be missed - with a miraculous performance from Asmik Grigorian.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Der Bürger als Edelmann Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687) Le bourgeois gentilhomme - Norwegian CO/Terje Tonnesen rec. 2016 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1143 [75:37] [TB] A splendid issue that does full justice to two linked masterpieces from across the centuries.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Don Quixote, Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche - Louisa Tuck (cello), Oslo PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2017 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1184 [76:27] [LW] Vasily Petrenko excels in Strauss tone poems on this well-programmed disc.

Eugen SUCHOŇ (1908-1993) Complete Works for Piano rec. 2017 SOZA BIEM R1970003-2-3 [4 CDs: 276:07] [SG] A true labour of love offering a wealth of delights and guaranteed to captivate.

Sir Arthur SULLIVAN (1842-1900) The Light of the World - Natalya Romaniw (soprano) Ben McAteer (baritone) BBC Symphony Ch & Concert O/John Andrews rec. 2017 DUTTON EPOCH 2CDLX7356 SACD [2 discs: 146.19] [MW] A ground-breaking and special performance of superb music.

Dobrinka TABAKOVA (b.1980) Choral works - Truro Cathedral Ch, BBC Concert O/Christopher Gray rec. 2018 REGENT REGCD530 [70.37] [MW] Immensely enjoyable – a disc to treasure.

Alexandre TANSMAN (1897-1986) Piano Music - Giorgio Koukl (piano) rec. 2018 GRAND PIANO GP788 [66:21] [SA] The playing is radiant and comes to us through the fingers of an artist of the highest integrity.

John TAVENER (1944-2013) The Protecting Veil, Mother and Child Pandit Sultan KHAN (1940-2011) The Song of Separation & Waiting - Sukhvinder Singh (table) Sinfonietta Riga/Matthew Barley (cello) rec. 2017/18 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD585 [67:31] [MR] A haunting and at times mesmerising disc which places Tavener’s major work for cello and orchestra in a remarkably sensitive setting.

Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Les Saisons Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition - Barry Douglas (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN10991 [75:46] [RBe] This performance is worthy of standing alongside that of Richter’s.

Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) String Quartet No. 1, Souvenir de Florence - Meccore String Qt, Isabel Charisius (viola) Valentin Erben (cello) MDG 903 2091-6 SACD [77:47] [RWe] A superb SACD of two essential works by the Russian master.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies No. 2 & 3 - London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2016 LPO LPO0109 [77:03] [RC] Here’s a case where live performances clearly stand with the best studio efforts.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies 1-6 - Paris Opera O/Philippe Jordan rec. 2017 ARTHAUS MUSIK Blu-ray 109379 [3 discs: 340 mins] [RC] A true winner.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Swan Lake - State Academic SO of Russia "Evgeny Svetlanov"/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2017/18 PENTATONE PTC5186640 SACD [2 discs: 151.46] [RC] A spirited and thoroughly idiomatic account.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony No. 6 - Berlin PO/Kirill Petrenko rec. 2017 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER BPHR190261 SACD [44.07] [MC] A very special recording.

Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony No. 6 - Berliner PO/Kirill Petrenko rec. 2017 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER BPHR190261 SACD [44:07] [RC] An utterly outstanding performance of a great symphony.

Avet TERTERIAN (1929-1994) Symphonies Nos 3 & 4 - Tigran Aleksanyan, Vahe Hovanesian, (duduks, zurna) Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5241 SACD [58:56] [RHa] An unmissable disc of unsettling symphonies by an inscrutable, singular and important Armenian figure.

Sir Michael TIPPETT (1905-1998) Symphonies Nos 3 & 4 - BBC Scottish SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68231/2 [57:49 + 62:48] [JF] Fine performances of works that have been somewhat neglected of recent.

Sir Michael TIPPETT (1905-1998) Symphonies No. 3 & 4 - Rachel Nicholls (soprano) BBC Scottish SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68231/2 [57:49 + 62:51] [SB] Brabbins’s new Tippett cycle should now become the standard version of these rewarding works.

Alexander VEPRIK (1899-1958) Orchestral works - BBC Ntl O Wales/Christoph-Mathias Mueller rec. 2019 MDG 901 2133-6 SACD [74:51] [SG] A revelation, which I hope will win over many followers.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem - Sächsischer Staatsopernchor, Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2014 PROFIL PH16075 [43.43 + 37.37] [MC] This deserves to be placed in the elevated company of the classic Giulini.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem - Bolshoi Theatre Ch, St Petersburg PO/Yuri Temirkanov rec. 2017 DELOS DE3563 [49:52 + 40:28] [RMo] This joins my select list of half a dozen favourite recordings.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Otello - Mario del Monaco (tenor), Victoria de los Angeles (soprano), Leonard Warren (baritone), Ch & O Metropolitan Opera/Fausto Cleva rec. 1958 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 154 [2 CDs: 123:32] [MMB] A gem to be enjoyed over and over again.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Der Freischütz - Julia Kleiter (sop), Eva Liebau (sop), Michael König (tenor), Ch & O Teatro alla Scala/Myung-Whun Chung rec. 2017 NAXOS Blu-Ray NBD0092V [135 mins] [ST] By some margin the best opera film I’ve seen in 2019 so far.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) & Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonatas - Paul Lewis (piano) rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902324 [57:34] [RBe] Lewis’ performances compare well with the very best in the catalogue.

Charles-Marie WIDOR (1844-1937) Organ Symphonies 5, 6 & 8-10 - Christian Schmitt (organ) rec. 2012-14 CPO 777 706-2 SACD [3 discs: 182:06] [SSi] This is now my go-to set for the complete Widor organ symphonies.

Thomas WILSON (1927-2001) Symphonies no.3 & 4; Carillon - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Rory Macdonald rec. 2018 LINN CKD616 [73:20] [HC] A magnificent release from a major Scottish composer.

Heinz WINBECK (1946-2019) Complete Symphonies - ORF Vienna RSO & Beethoven O Bonn/Dennis Russell Davies rec. 1985-2017 TYXART TXA17091 [5 CDs: 291:50] [SG] Prompted by the need for existential expression, the music is intense, exciting and uncompromising.

Isang YUN (1917-1995) Sunrise Falling - Bruckner O Linz/Dennis Russell Davies rec. 2017 PENTATONE PTC5186693 SACD [74:58 + 73:01] [RHa] The words ‘undeservedly neglected’ are applied too often but they certainly apply to Isang Yun; hopefully this superbly recorded set will trigger more interest.

Isang YUN (1917-1995) Chamber music - Shota Takahashi (oboe), Walter Grimmer (cello), Kaya Han (piano) rec. 2017/18 CAPRICCIO C5364 [77:31] [RHa] The second unmissable Isang Yun collection to have landed on my doormat in three months.

Bernd Alois ZIMMERMANN (1918-1970) Die Soldaten, Photoptosis, Violin Concerto - Leila Josefowicz (violin) Finnish RSO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2016/18 ONDINE ODE1325-2 [73.45] [GH] An outstanding release, in terms both of music and performance and, indeed, recorded sound.

20th Century Harpsichord Concertos Works by Leigh, Rorem, Kalabis & Nyman - Jory Vinikour (harpsichord) Chicago PO/Scott Speck rec. 2016/18 CEDILLE CDR90000188 [75:42] [JW] A cracking disc.

Ars longa Elizabeth Kenny (theorbo) rec. 2018 LINN CKD603 [75:34] [GPu] This conclusively affirms both the quality of the best music written for the theorbo in the seventeenth century and the instrument’s modern potential.

Julien Behr (tenor) Confidence - Lyon Opera O/Pierre Bleuse rec. 2017 ALPHA CLASSICS 401 [65.37] [MC] A captivating collection, beautifully sung and recorded.

Bernstein at 100 The Centennial Celebration at Tanglewood - Boston SO rec. 2018 C MAJOR DVD 747608 [141 min.] [LW] An indispensable tribute to Leonard Bernstein.

The Birth of Rhapsody in Blue New Palais Royale O/Maurice Peress NIMBUS NI2584 [2 CDs: 118:01] [MR] This superlative recreation of the famous Paul Whiteman band concert of 1924 is an absolute must for all Gershwin fans and music historians.

“B” Like Britain Works by Bax, Britten, Bowen & Bennett - Ludmilla Berlinskaya, Arthur Ancelle (pianos) rec. 2018 MELODIYA MELCD1002565 [59:43] [NB] A strong Record of the Year contender.

Blue Hour Works by Brahms, Mendelssohn & Weber - Andreas Ottensamer (clarinet), Yuja Wang (piano), Berlin PO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2018 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4836069 [61:54] [LW] Ottensamer and Wang’s programme of clarinet and piano works disarms criticism.

British Cello Works Works by Smyth, Lutyens, Maconchy & Clarke - Lionel Handy (cello) Jennifer Hughes (piano) rec. 2018 LYRITA SRCD.383 [73:06] [GH] Consistently superb performances with spacious but immediate recording of four little-known but very fine works.

Chansons Françaises NDR Ch/Philipp Ahmann rec. 2013-17 ES DUR ES2074 [67:44] [WH] Outstandingly fine singing in modern French repertoire.

Choral Classics from Chester Ch Chester Cathedral/Philip Rushworth rec. 2018 PRIORY RECORDS PRCD1205 [64:16] [MR] With its selection of largely overlooked choral gems, magnificent singing and excellent organ accompaniments, this is an absolute must-have for all lovers of the English cathedral tradition.

Christmas at St George’s Windsor Luke Bond (organ), Ch St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle/James Vivian rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68281 [70:23] [MR] A magical celebration of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, sung with great sensitivity.

Lise Davidsen (soprano) Works by Strauss & Wagner - Philharmonia O/Esa-Pekka Salonen rec. 2018 DECCA 483 4883 [63:57] [JQ] A distinguished disc.

Lise Davidsen (soprano) Works by Strauss & Wagner - Philharmonia O/Esa-Pekka Salonen rec. 2018 DECCA 483 4883 [63:57] [CC] A phenomenal disc, stunningly recorded, delivering a huge talent to us.

Les défis de Mr. Forqueray Works by Mascitti, Forqueray, Leclair, Visee & Corelli - Lucil Boulanger, Claire Gautrot (viola da gamba) Romain Falik (theorbo) Pierre Gallon (harpsichord) rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902330 [76:07] [JV] One of the best discs with music for the viola da gamba that I have heard in recent years.

Dutch Cello Sonatas Vol. 8 Works by Witte & Hutschenruyter - Doris Hochscheid (cello), Frans van Ruth (piano) rec. 2018 MDG AUDIOMAX SACD 9032094-6 [71:14] [JW] This is another winner in this series – and one of the best yet.

Elusive Affinity Anna Gourari (piano) rec. 2018 ECM NEW SERIES 2612 [62:44] [DC] From beauty to darkness and back into light - profound pianistic perfection.

An English Coronation 1902-1953 Gabrieli Consort & Players, Chetham’s Symphonic Brass Ens/Paul McCreesh rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD569 [81:18 + 78:03] [JQ] A truly exciting release.

An English Coronation, 1902-1953 Gabrieli Consort, Roar & Players, Chetham’s Symphonic Brass Ens/Paul McCreesh rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD569 [81:18 + 78:03] [ST] A most recommendable treat.

An English Coronation 1902-1953 Gabrieli Consort, Roar & Players, Chetham’s Symphonic Brass Ens/Paul McCreesh rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD569 [2 CDs: 159:21] [MR] You do not have to be either a royalist or a British subject to recognise that there is some great music here and some magnificent performances to boot.

An English Coronation 1902-1953 Gabrieli Consort and Players/Paul McCreesh rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD569 [81:18 + 78:03] [BW] As magnificent an achievement as the four coronations which it commemorates.

A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols The Centenary Service - Ch King’s College, Cambridge/Sir Stephen Cleobury, Guy Johnston (cello), Henry Websdale (organ) rec. 2018 KING’S COLLEGE KGS0036 SACD [81:55 (SACD), 76:44 (CD) [JQ] A very fine souvenir of a memorable occasion.

Janina Fialkowska (piano) Les Sons et Les Parfums rec. 2019 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD22766 [55:21] [JF] Inspired playing.

Sidney Foster (piano) Rediscovering an American Master rec. 1941-74 MARSTON 57001-2 [7 CDs: 554:29] [SG] This outstanding production deserves a prominent place on the shelves of anyone with an interest in the history of pianists and piano performance.

Silvestro Ganassi: La Fontegara Le Concert Brisé/William Dongois rec. 2017 RICERCAR RIC395 [65:47] [JV] A most intriguing and thought-provoking disc.

Jess Gillam (saxophone) Rise rec. 2018/19 DECCA 483 4862 [51:48] [SA] Jess Gillam is a force of nature.

Hélène Grimaud (piano) Memory rec. 2017 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4835710 [51:35] [EJW] A truly lovely album.

Franco Gulli (violin) ReDiscovered rec. 1957-97 RHINE CLASSICS RH-005 [11 CDs: 774 mins] [SG] An amalgam of engrossing repertoire, refined musicianship and passionate commitment.

Marianna Henriksson (harpsichord) Frammenti del discorso amoroso - rec. 2017 SIBA RECORDS SRCD1020 [57:25] [GPu] An outstanding recital which exploits to the full the early baroque idea of musical rhetoric.

Iberia y Francia Imogen Cooper (piano) rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20119 [77:14] [RHa] Imogen Cooper is a wonderful guide to early twentieth century France and Spain.

In a Strange Land Elizabethan Composers in Exile - Stile Antico rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902266 [71:34] [ST] It’s difficult to imagine how these performances could be bettered.

Italian Masterworks Works by Boito, Mascagni, Puccini & Verdi - Riccardo Zanellato (bass); Chicago SO & Ch/Riccardo Muti rec. 2017 CSO RESOUND CSOR9011801 [68:37] [DM] A peach of a programme, with playing, singing and sonics to match; quite possibly my first Recording of the Year for 2019.

Landscapes Works by Albéniz, Mompou, D Scarlatti & Schubert - Andrew Tyson (piano) rec. 2019 ALPHA 546 [61:55] [RHa] The seemingly bland title conceals a brilliantly conceived programme and pianism of flair and taste.

Leonardo: Shaping the Invisible I Fagiolini/Robert Hollingworth rec. 2012/18 CORO COR16171 [71:35] [BW] With very minor reservations, I was bowled over by the visual presentation, the music, the performances and the recording.

Leonardo Da Vinci: La Musique Secrète - Doulce Mémoire/Denis Raisin Dadre rec. 2018 ALPHA CLASSICS 456 [78:03] [GP] A major issue, for intelligence of concept and for the beauty of the execution and presentation.

Locus iste Ch St John’s College Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD567 [73:51] [JQ] It would be hard to imagine a finer celebration of the 150th anniversary of St John’s College Chapel.

John McCabe (piano) Mountains: The ‘Lost’ Australian Recording rec. 1985 MÉTIER MSV28585 [64:20] [JF] Wonderful technical skill, musicianship and immense understanding.

John McCormack (tenor) A Patrician Artist - Complete Electrical Recordings, Broadcasts & Early Recordings rec. 1904-42 MARSTON 51601-2 [16 CDs] [SG] Miraculous transfers - no afficionado of the ‘Golden Age of Singing’ will want to be without this set.

Magnificat Glen Dempsey (organ) Ch of St John’s College Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD588 [58:44] [ST] Utterly praiseworthy.

Mantra Espen Aalberg (gamelan), Trondheim Sinfonietta/Kai Grinde Myrann rec. 2017 BIS BIS-2340 SACD [54:59] [RHa] Seemingly disparate works, all enjoyable, but Lindquist’s gamelan concerto is a revelation.

Marais Meets Corelli Lina Tur Bonet (violin) Ens Musica Narrans/Jakob Rattinger (viola da gamba) rec. 2015 PAN CLASSICS PC10395 [64:56] [RHa] A delight from first bar to last.

Melancholia Les Cris de Paris/Geoffroy Jourdain rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902298 [67:11] [JV] These performances deserve nothing but praise.

Conductor Willem Mengelberg, 1871-1951: Acclaimed and Accused by Frits Zwart publ. 2019 AMSTERDAM UNIVERSITY PRESS [1329 pp.] [GT] Should be read by everyone who is interested in the art of conducting, in musical performance, and the musical business in the 20th century.

Michelangelo's Madrigal Kate Macoboy (soprano), Robert Meunier (lute) rec. 2016/2017 ET'CETERA KTC1623 [56:36] [JV] A wonderful disc which requires attentive listening.

Mitteleuropa Jean-Louis Beaumadier (piccolo), Jordi Torrent (piano), Pierre-Henri Xuereb (viola), Gjorgji Cincievski (double bass) rec. 2012 SKARBO DSK4132 [50:45] [SA] Genuinely collaborative music-making of the highest standard.

Elisa Netzer (harp) Toccata rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573835 [51.49] [MW] An outstanding debut recital from an exciting young Swiss artist: a must-buy for lovers of the harp.

L’Opéra des Opéras Katherine Watson (soprano) Karine Deshayes (mezzo) Reinoud van Mechelen (counter-tenor) Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet rec. 2017 ALPHA CLASSICS 442 [74:10] [SSi] This recording represents one of the finest recordings of French baroque musical drama that I have heard in a long time.

Organ Party Vol. 4 Kevin Bowyer (organ) rec. 2017 PRIORY RECORDS PRCD1192 [79:36] [MR] A wonderfully life-affirming release in Priory’s “Organ Party” series hosted by Kevin Bowyer.

Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano) A Simple Song - Bengt Forsberg (organ) rec. 2016 BIS BIS-2327 SACD [69:01] [GF] A disc for overwhelming sonic and musical rapture.

Jennifer Pike (violin) The Polish Violin - Petr Limonov (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20082 [75:16] [MR] Remarkable variety and quality from both composers and performers.

Ida Presti & Alexandre Lagoya (guitar duo) rec. 1962/63 DOREMI DHR-8059 [56:14] [ZT] A rare recording of a legendary guitar duo.

Progetto Italiano Works by Martucci, Respighi & Rota - Vladyslava Luchenko (violin) Christia Yuliya Hudziy (piano) rec. 2017 CLAVES RECORDS 50-1910 [72:54] [WK] It would be hard to find more exciting and committed performances.

Quattro Violini a Venezia Clematis/Brice Sailly, Stéphanie de Failly rec. 2018 RICERCAR RIC404 [64:35] [SSi] A wonderfully entertaining disc, and a most valuable addition to any collection of baroque Italian music.

Rarities of Piano Music at Schloss vor Husum 2018 DANACORD DACOCD839 [79:45] [RCh] A disc jam-packed with piano discoveries and joyous music-making.

Reason in Madness Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2018 BIS BIS2353 SACD [74:50] [RWe] An absorbing recital.

Marina Rebeka (soprano) O Teatro Massimo di Palermo/Jader Bignamini rec. 2018 PRIMA CLASSIC PRIMA001 [77:57] [GF] This is a splendid album, for the repertoire as well as for the singing.

Rostropovich: The Indomitable Bow A film by Bruno Monsaingeon NAXOS NBD0082V Blu-ray [167 mins] [RWe] One of the best films about a musician that even Bruno Monsaingeon has ever given us.

Russian Songs Works by Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov & Rachmaninov - Margarita Gritskova (mezzo) Maria Prinz (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573908 [58:49] [GF] By some margin the best recital with Russian songs I’ve heard for many moons.

Xavier Sabata (countertenor) L’Alessandro amante - Vespres d’Arnadí/Dani Espasa rec. 2018 APARTÉ AP192 [64.30] [MC] A striking and rewarding album.

Roger Sayer (organ) The Grand Organ of Temple Church - rec. 2018 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100090 [74:15] [MR] Roger Sayer has achieved the near-impossible of rendering this heavyweight programme accessible.

Pietro Scarpini (piano) Discovered Tapes: From Baroque to Contemporary rec. 1950-1967 RHINE CLASSICS RH-010 [12 CDs: 14 hours] [SG] This sterling achievement resuscitates the memory of a long-forgotten artist.

The Soldier: From Severn to Somme Christopher Maltman (baritone), Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD592 [73:54] [JQ] An outstanding release, rewarding in every way.

So Many Stars Fenella Humphreys (violin), Nicola Eimer (piano) rec. 2016 STONE RECORDS 5060192780826 [75:18] [JF] A fascinating CD.

Sonatas for 2 Violins Works by Guillemain, Leclair, Guignon & Mangean - Johannes Pramsohler, Rondán Bernabé (violins) rec. 2017 AUDAX RECORDS ADX13714 [63:04] [JV] If you love baroque violin music, this is a disc to treasure.

Tempéraments Works by CPE Bach & Mozart - Shani Diluka (piano, fortepiano), Paris CO/Ben Glassberg rec. 2018 MIRARE MIR434 [74:00] [DC] An unusual but richly rewarding programme.

Voyage à Venise: A Venetian Journey Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Georg Kallweit; Gli Incogniti/Amandine Beyer; Concerto Palatino rec. 1998-2014 HARMONIA MUNDI HMX2908798.00 [3 CDs 3:37:49] [BW] This set can be strongly recommended at its new super-low price.

A Walk with Ivor Gurney Dame Sarah Connolly (mezzo) Simon Callow (narrator) Tenebrae, Aurora O/Nigel Short rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD557 [44:06 + 43:30] [MG] The programme has an illuminating quality; add Sarah Connolly in glorious voice and the whole product is special.

Katherine Watson (soprano) L'Opéra du Roi Soleil - Les Ambassadeurs/Alexis Kossenko rec. 2018 APARTÉ AP209 [73.25] [MC] An album to treasure.


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