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Recommended Recordings 2020

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

Thomas ADČS (b. 1971) Piano Concerto, Totentanz – Kirill Gerstein (piano) Christianne Stotijn (mezzo) Mark Stone (baritone) Boston SO/Thomas Adčs rec. 2016/19 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 7998 [55:58] [LW] Two sides of Thomas Adčs brilliantly executed and stunningly recorded.

Coriún AHARONIÁN (1940-2017) Una carta - Ens Aventure, SWF SO Baden-Baden/Zoltán Peskó rec. 1993-2019 WERGO WER7374-2 [63:16] [RHa] I implore one and all – don’t miss this unique Uruguayan.

Kalevi AHO (b. 1949) Symphony No. 5, Sieidi - Colin Currie (percussion) Lahti SO/Dima Slobodenoiuk rec. 2017/20 BIS BIS-2336 SACD [61.08] [PCG] Essential for Aho fans, and attractive for those who welcome the excitement of two approachable and comprehensible pieces of modern music.

Charles-Valentin ALKAN (1813-1888) Symphony, Concerto - Paul Wee (piano) rec. 2017/2018 BIS BIS-2465 SACD [78:32] [JWe] Magnificent performances, recommended to anyone who enjoys superb pianism.

Bonaventura ALIOTTI (c.1640-c.1690) Il trionfo della morte per il peccato d’Adamo - Les Traversées Baroques/Étienne Meyer rec. 2019 ACCENT ACC24368 [50:13 + 44:39] [GPu] A powerful and beautiful oratorio, hitherto forgotten, gets a fine performance in excellent sound.

Gregorio ALLEGRI (1582–1652) Miserere William MUNDY (c.1529–1591) Vox Patris cćlestis Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (c.1525–1594) Missa Papć Marcelli - Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips rec. 1980 GIMELL CDGIM639 [68:57] [BW] This remastering seems destined to be my reissue of the year.

William ALWYN (1905-1985) Miss Julie - Anna Patalong (soprano) Benedict Nelson (bass-baritone) BBC SO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5253(2) SACD [60:39 + 54:03] [JQ] A formidable achievement which all admirers of William Alwyn’s music should consider as a mandatory purchase.

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) Complete Piano Trios - Linos Piano Trio rec. 2014 CAVI-MUSIC 8553480 [59:26 + 73:12] [PRB] More than two hours of music of great variety, enough to keep the listener totally engaged throughout.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations - Pavel Kolesnikov (piano) rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68338 [79:30] [CC] A release fit for a king.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations - Pavel Kolesnikov (piano) rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68338 [79:30] [ST] Completely marvellous: a wonderful musician giving his fresh take on a timeless masterpiece.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations - Charles Rosen (piano) rec. 1967 SONY SBK48173 [75:50] [SB] A classic version of the Goldbergs available again.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas & Partitas - Thomas Zehetmair (violin) rec. 2016 ECM NEW SERIES 2551/52 (4818558) [59:21 + 67:12] [DC] Grit, character and beauty – this set has it all.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Six Partitas - Angela Hewitt (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68271/2 [2 CDs: 149:56] [SG] The greater clarity provided by the Fazioli piano gives this new version a slight edge.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Complete Well-Tempered Clavier - George Lepauw (piano) rec. 2017 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100107 [5 CDs: 274:35] [SG] This production has been a true labour of love for everyone involved.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Concertos for Organ and Strings - Les Muffatti/Bart Jacobs (organ) rec. 2018 RAMÉE RAM1804 [79:59] [JV] A model of creative programming and music-making.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) St Matthew Passion - Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki rec. 2019 BIS BIS2500 SACD [2 discs: 162:00] [MS] An outstanding St Matthew Passion conceived and performed in ways that bring new insight and ensuing fresh levels of enjoyment.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Transcriptions for Piano Duet by Max Reger - Piano Duo Takahashi|Lehmann rec. 2016/19 AUDITE 23.445 [2 CDs: 128.12] [SSi] One of the finest recordings of transcriptions of Bach that I have heard in a very long time.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Italian Concerto, Partitas, Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue - Konstanze Eickhorst (piano) rec. 2019 GENUIN GEN20682 [60:58] [TB] An imaginatively conceived programme.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cello Suites - Saša Večtomov (cello) rec. 1984 SUPRAPHON SU4275-2 [38:43 + 60:51] [SG] Be grateful that this glorious recording has finally made it to CD after 35 years.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I - Dina Ugorskaja (piano) rec. 2015 CAVI-MUSIC 8553350 [2 CDs: 137:09] [SG] Revelatory performances by a pianist with the Midas touch.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) French Suites Nos. 1-6 - Thurston Dart (clavichord) rec. 1961 ELOQUENCE 4829398 [52:07] [GPu] One of the very finest recordings of Bach’s French Suites, beautifully remastered.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) St John Passion - Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki rec. 2020 BIS BIS-2551 SACD [31:29 + 72:56] [JQ] A considerable achievement and a major addition to the discography of both Bach Collegium Japan and this great masterpiece.

Mili BALAKIREV (1837-1910) Complete Piano Works Vol. 6 - Nicholas Walker (piano) rec. 2019 GRAND PIANO GP846 [80:04] [RCh] Wonderful conclusion to this fascinating series.

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] [RC] Performances to rank with the best, but also the bonus of the splendidly played Rondo.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) A Beethoven Odyssey Vol. 6 - James Brawn (piano) rec. 2018 MSR CLASSICS MS1470 [73:43] [RC] A fresh, often distinctive view of these sonatas.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) & Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Violin Concertos - Christian Tetzlaff (violin) Deutsches SO Berlin/Robin Ticciati rec. 2018 ONDINE ODE1334-2 [71:22] [MC] This outstanding new album provides the strongest possible competition to my established favourites.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies Nos 5 & 6 - O Wiener Akademie/Martin Haselböck rec. 2018/19 ALPHA 479 [80.16] [MW] As exciting as anyone could wish: thrilling, musical period performances in a venue Beethoven knew so well.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas Nos 30-32 - Maurizio Pollini (piano) rec. 2019 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4838250 [56:07] [SG] After a lifetime’s experience, the pianist has ‘discovered new riches in every detail’ in these sublime sonatas.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas Nos. 30-32 - Maurizio Pollini (piano) rec. live 2019 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4838250 [56:07] [BW] Steven Osborne on Hyperion would be my ultimate choice, but Maurizio Pollini’s more objective accounts are very valuable.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Piano Concertos - Stephen Hough (piano) Finnish Radio SO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68291/3 [3 CDs: 172:18] [SB] A splendid new set of these inexhaustible works.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Piano Concertos - Stewart Goodyear (piano) BBC Ntl O of Wales/Andrew Constantine rec. 2018 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100127 [3 CDs: 2:52:44] [RC] A major achievement placing him among the foremost interpreters of these masterpieces.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos Nos. 1-5 - Stewart Goodyear (piano), BBC Ntl O Wales/Andrew Constantine rec. 2018 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100127 [3 CDs: 172:44] [DM] Glorious, life-embracing performances, very well recorded; surely a high point of these sestercentennial celebrations.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Trios 3 & 7 - Vienna Piano Trio rec. 2019 MDG 942 2155-6 SACD [73:35] [RMo] Impeccable performances of two favourite trios in first-rate sound.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas - Paul Badura-Skoda (fortepiano) rec. 1978-1989 ARCANA A203 [9 CDs: 606:09] [SSi] This wonderful addition to the catalogue in the anniversary year compares with performances on modern grand pianos.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Missa solemnis - Gundula Janowitz (soprano) Christa Ludwig (contralto) Fritz Wunderlich (tenor) Walter Berry (bass) Weiner Singverein, Berlin PO/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1966 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 8221 CD/BD-A [86:05] [JQ] A really distinguished account of Missa solemnis, magnificently remastered.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Piano Concertos - Stephen Hough (piano) Finnish RSO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68291/3 [3 CDs: 172:19] [JQ] A deeply rewarding and distinguished set of the Beethoven piano concertos.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No.6 Justin Heinrich KNECHT (1752-1817) Symphony - Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Bernhard Forck rec. 2019 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902425 [66:14] [MR] A refreshing Pastoral, but the real interest lies in the Knecht, which served as Beethoven’s model, and bursts into life with an outstanding period-instrument performance.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827) Immortal Beloved - Chen Reiss (soprano) Academy of Ancient Music/Richard Egarr rec. 2019 ONYX 4218 [58:52] [GF] An ideal addition to many Beethoven enthusiasts’ collection.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 5 - MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis rec. 2018 SONY CLASSICAL 19075884972 [30:38] [MZ] A stunning new interpretation that is first rate in both its performance and recording quality.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) String quartets Op. 130 & 132 - Tetzlaff Qt rec. 2019 ONDINE ODE1347-2D [42:41 + 44:16] [RMo] Peerless quartet-playing throughout.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Complete String Quartets Vol. III - Cuarteto Casals rec. 2019 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902406/08 [3 CDs: 165:03] [SSi] A wonderful set which brings the Cuarteto Casals’ excellent survey to a glorious conclusion.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 5 - MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis rec. 2018 SONY 19075884972 [30:34] [LD] A Fifth that blazes with considerable intensity and many ideas.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete String Quartets - Kuss Qt rec. 2019 RUBICON RCD1045 [8 CDs: 523:19] [SG] Thrilling performances, not to be missed.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Folk Songs - Paula Sophie Bohnet (soprano) Daniel Johannsen (tenor) Georg Klimbacher (baritone) Josef Herzer (violin) Bertin Christelbauer (cello) Bernadette Bartos (piano) rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574174 [73:33] [GF] A wholly delightful programme, excellently performed.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Early Quartets Vol. 1 - Léner Qt rec. 1926-36 PRISTINE AUDIO PACM106 [67:30 + 70:58] [JW] Something of a milestone in chamber performance on disc.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 1-9, Overtures, Mass - Michael Gielen (conductor) rec. 1967-2007 SWR MUSIC SWR19090CD [9 CDs: 608:11 & DVD: 47 mins] [GPJ] A remarkable set by this conductor whose brilliance is only now gaining the recognition it deserves.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Variations - Angela Hewitt (piano) rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68346 [79:43] [DC] A delight from start to finish.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) String Quartets Vol. 2 - Léner Quartet rec. 1926-32 PRISTINE AUDIO PACM109 [76:04 + 76:49] [JW] Another memorable restoration.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) String Quartet op. 18/1 Unsuk CHIN (b.1961) ParaMetaString Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Novelletten - Esmé Qt rec. 2019 ALPHA CLASSICS 590 [62:50] [MR] A triumphant debut from an exciting new string quartet.

Antonia BEMBO (1643-1720) Produzioni Armoniche - Armonia delle Sfere rec. 2017/2018 TACTUS TC640280 [3 CDs: 204:34] [GPu] The first-time appearance an important collection of Franco-Italian music.

Paul BEN-HAIM (1897-1984) Symphony No. 1, Pastorale Variée, Pan - Claudia Barainsky (soprano) John Bradbury (clarinet) BBC Philharmonic/Omer Meir Wellber rec. 2019/20 CHANDOS CHAN20169 [60:45] [GH] Simply outstanding.

Luciano BERIO (1925-2003) Coro, Cries of London - Norwegian Soloists’ Ch, Norwegian Radio O/Grete Pedersen rec. 2018/19 BIS BIS-2391 SACD [73:26] [LW] A major achievement in Berio choral music.

Heinrich Ignaz Franz BIBER (1644-1704) Requiem František Ignác Antonín TŮMA (1704-1774) Stabat mater - Pluto Ens/Marnix De Cat, Hathor Consort/Romina Lischka rec. 2019 RAMÉE RAM1914 [61:35] [JV] Profound performances.

Georges BIZET (1838-1875) Les Pęcheurs de perles – Julie Fuchs (soprano) Cyrille Dubois (tenor) Orchestra NtlLille/Alexandre Bloch rec. 2017 PENTATONE PTC5186685 SACD [48:19 + 61:23] [ST] A new set that supplants previous favourites.

Victoria BORISOVA-OLLAS (b.1969) Angelus - Royal Stockholm PO/Andrey Boreyko, Martyn Brabbins, Sakari Aramo rec. 2016-19 BIS BIS-2288 SACD [82:08] [HC] Accessible, superbly crafted and strongly expressive contemporary music.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) The Final Piano Pieces - Stephen Hough (piano) rec. 2014/18 HYPERION CDA68116 [69:08] [JQ] A top-class survey of Brahms’ last compositions for solo piano.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) The Final Piano Pieces - Stephen Hough (piano) rec. 2014/18 HYPERION CDA68116 [69:08] [RWe] Now the top modern recommendation.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) The Songs Vol. 9 - Robin Tritschler (tenor) Harriet Burns (soprano) Graham Johnson (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDJ33129 [74:13] [GF] Singing of distinction that brings even the more obscure songs come to life.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833- 1897) The Complete Songs Vol. 9 - Robin Tritschler (tenor) Harriet Burns (soprano) Graham Johnson (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDJ33129 [74:13] [RWe] One of the great lieder discs.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Complete Songs Vol. 10 - Sophie Rennert (mezzo) Graham Johnson (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDJ33130 [79:11] [CC] A very special disc.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Ein Deutsches Requiem - Valentina Farcas (soprano) Matthias Goerne (baritone) State Ch Latvija, Deutschekammerphilharmonie Bremen/Paavo Järvi rec. 2018 C MAJOR Blu-ray 753304 [71 mins] [RC] The best option on video and up there with the best on CD.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No. 1, Tragic Overture - Gewandhaus O Leipzig/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 2019 PENTATONE PTC5186850 [62:32] [ST] If this is the start of a cycle, then count me in for the rest.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No. 1, Tragic Overture - Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 2019 PENTATONE PTC 5186 850 [62:32] [JQ] Brahms performances of great distinction.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) The Wild Song - Marci Meth (soprano) Simon Russell Beale (reciter) Anna Tilbrook (piano) rec. 2016 MODERN POETICS MP001 [59:11] [RHa] Essential listening for anyone who loves Britten, or folksong, or the Suffolk countryside, or all three.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Peter Grimes - Stuart Skelton (tenor) Erin Wall (soprano) Bergen PO & Ch/Edward Gardner rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5250(2) SACD [82:39 + 55:37] [ST] The finest Peter Grimes yet.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Peter Grimes - Stuart Skelton (tenor) Erin Wall (soprano) Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus/Edward Gardner rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5250(2) SACD [82:39 + 55:37] [JQ] This enthralling recording of Peter Grimes is fully worthy of the work’s stature and a significant addition to its discography.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphonies Nos 1-9 - Berlin PO rec. 2009-19 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER BPHR190281 CD/BD-A [595 mins] Blu-ray [639 mins] [JQ] A set that will grace any Bruckner collection.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphonies Nos 1-9 - NHK SO/Hiroshi Wakasugi rec. 1996-98 ALTUS ALT431/440 [10 CDs: 584:39] [RMo] A few minor quibbles aside, this is a really recommendable cycle.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 1 - Philharmonie Festiva/Gerd Schaller rec. 2019 PROFIL PH19084 [50:30] [RMo] Makes the strongest possible case for the symphony’s consideration – or even its rehabilitation.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 1 - Philharmonie Festiva/Gerd Schaller rec. 2019 PROFIL PH19084 [50:30] [MC] A quite stunning account.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphonies Nos 4 & 7 - Staatskapelle Dresden/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 1980/81 MDG 6502150-2 [66:59 + 67:47] [ST] In short, a winner!

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 5 - Gewandhaus O Leipzig/Franz Konwitschny rec. 1961 BERLIN CLASSICS 0301621BC [81:15] [RMo] One of the three or four greatest Bruckner Fifth recordings I know.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 5 - Hiroshima SO/Tatsuo Shimono rec. 2019 BRAIN MUSIC OSBR-36033 [80:46] [RMo] Best of a whole batch of Bruckner recordings which recently came my way for review.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 5 - Matthias Giesen (organ) rec. 2018 GRAMOLA 99169 [84:40] [JWe] Full marks to all concerned for this remarkable recording.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824–1896) Symphony No. 6 - Bergen PO/Thomas Dausgaard rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2404 SACD [53:21] [SG] The first in a Bruckner mini-series and the omens are good.

Dieterich BUXTEHUDE (c.1637–1707) By Arrangement Meilin Ai (piano) rec. 2019 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0534 [83:31] [JWe] This is a disc that I look forward to returning to again and again.

William BYRD (1539/40-1623) Singing in Secret - The Marian Consort/Rory McCleery rec. 2019 DELPHIAN DCD34230 [60:14] [JQ] A highly impressive release.

Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643-1704) Messe ŕ quatre chœurs - Ensemble Correspondances/Sébastien Daucé rec. 2019 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902640 [79:36] [BW]  A very impressive recording of the Italian influences on Charpentier.

Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Sonata No. 3, Ballades, Berceuse - Joanna Ławrynowicz (piano) rec. 2005-2011 ACTE PREALABLE AP0310 [75:05] [SB] Excellent performances of some of Chopin’s greatest works by a pianist new to me.

Nigel CLARKE (b. 1960) Mysteries of the Horizon - Grimethorpe Colliery Band/Nigel Clarke, David Thornton, Sandy Smith rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574097 [69:14] [RHa] Four visually inspired works for band in outstanding performances.

Johannes de CLEVE (c.1528-1582) Missa Rex Babylonis & other works - Cinquecento rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68241 [71:06] [RHa] De Cleve’s song may well have its merits, but ultimately it’s the five singers of Cinquecento which render this disc a must-have.

Eric COATES (1886–1957) Orchestral Works Vol. 2 - BBC Philharmonic/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20148 [57:08] [BW] A splendid follow-up to the first volume - more please.

Arnold COOKE (1906-2005) Complete Works for Oboe, Sonata for Two Pianos - Pleyel Ensemble rec. 2017 MPR 108 [75:48] [CC] A fabulous disc, one of a very important series.

Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713) Concerti grossi op. 6 - English Concert/Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord) rec. 1987-1988 ARCHIV 4749072 [63:55+65:23] [CC] A superlative re-release.

Paul CORFIELD GODFREY (b.1950) The Children of Húrin - Volante SO PRIMA FACIE PFCD126/7 [78:11 + 56:21] [BW] Another very fine music drama on themes from Tolkien.

Edward COWIE (b. 1943) Clarinet Concerto No. 2, Concerto for Orchestra - Alan Hacker (clarinet) Royal Liverpool PO/Howard Williams rec. 1983/1984 MÉTIER MSV92108 [44:38] [JF] An amazing disc.

Chiara Margarita COZZOLANI (1602-1676/1678) Vespro - I Gemelli/Emiliano Gonzalez Toro rec. 2019 NAĎVE V5472 [79:38] [CRo] A wonderful gem of early Baroque choral music.

Geoff CUMMINGS-KNIGHT (b. 1947) Piano Sonata No.1, Russian Tableaux, 3 Preludes, Ballade - Duncan Honeybourne (piano) rec. 2019 PRIMA FACIE PFCD120 [57:00] [DJ] A splendid CD.

Luigi DALLAPICCOLA (1904-1975) Il Prigioniero - Anna Maria Chiuri (mezzo) Michael Nagy (baritone) Danish Ntl SO & Concert Ch/Ginandrea Noseda rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5276 SACD [55:46] [GPu] One of the twentieth-century’s greatest operas gets a superb recording.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Nocturnes, Premičre rapsodie, Marche Écossaise, La Damoiselle élue - Sergio Castelló López (clarinet) Sophie Bevan (soprano) Anna Stéphany (mezzo) Hallé O & Ch/Mark Elder rec. 2018/19 HALLÉ CDHLL7552 [64:56] [RHa] Yet more ravishing Debussy from Sir Mark and his revitalised Hallé.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Images, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune - Hallé/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2018/2019 HALLÉ CDHLL7554 [60:44] [GPJ] Elder’s empathy for Debussy, the Hallé’s fine playing and an excellent recording make this a disc to treasure.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Images, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune - Hallé/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2018/2019 HALLÉ CDHLL7554 [60:44] [NB] Another triumphant disc.

Gustavo DÍAZ-JEREZ (b. 1970) Maghek - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Eduardo Portal rec. 2019 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD612 [69:37 + 68:10] [RHa] Seven big, bracing, and thoroughly contemporary works; riveting playing; demonstration-quality sound.

Stephen DODGSON (1924-2013) Chamber Music Vol. 5 - Magnard Ens rec. 2017 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0499 [80:00] [SSi] Very enjoyable wind chamber music in great performances.

Ernő DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Piano Quintets, String Quartet No. 2 - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) Takács Qt rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68238 [80.58] [DJB] Underappreciated works in performances that surely won’t be bettered.

John DOWLAND (1563-1626) A Fancy - Bor Zuljan (lute) rec. 2020 RICERCAR RIC425 [61:57] [GPu] Deserves a place on the shelves of anyone who values Dowland’s lute music.

Domenico Maria DREYER (17-18th C), Louis DÉTRY (17-18th C) & Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Sonatas - Renata Duarte (recorder, oboe) Aline Zylberajch (harpsichord) Ricardo Rapaport (bassoon) Annabelle Luis (cello) rec. 2019 CYBELE RECORDS SACD 231904 [50:43] [DC] Proof that obscure need not mean second-rate.

Albert DUPUIS (1877-1967) & Vincent d'INDY (1851-1931) Violin Sonatas - Gaëtane Prouvost (violin), Eliane Reyes (piano) rec. 2018 EN PHASES ENP007 [75:44] [MC] This captivating album far exceeded my already high expectations.

Robert DUSSAUT (1896-1969) & Hélčne COVATTI (1910-2005) Mélodies - Adriana González (soprano) Ińaki Encina Oyón (piano) rec. 2019 AUDAX ADX13722 [70:11] [MP] An exciting CD debut for a major new artist in a fascinating unknown repertoire, captured in splendid sound.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Rusalka - Sally Matthews (soprano) Evan Leroy Johnson (tenor) Glyndebourne Festival Ch & London PO/Robin Ticciati rec. 2019 OPUS ARTE Blu-ray OABD7266D [161 mins] [MP] A riveting and magical production featuring a near perfect cast becomes the top video recommendation.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Violin Concerto, Sospiri, Salut d’amour, Chanson de nuit - Nicola Benedetti (violin) London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2019/20 DECCA 4850949 [58:45] [JQ] An outstanding version of Elgar’s great concerto.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) & Amy BEACH (1867-1944) Piano Quintets - Garrick Ohlsson (piano), Takács Quartet rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68295 [63:38] [SSi] Splendid performances of both works.

Ēriks EŠENVALDS (b. 1977) Translations - Portland State Chamber Ch/Ethan Sperry rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574124 [59:20] [JQ] Admirers of Ešenvalds’ music should not hesitate to acquire this outstanding disc, and others may find themselves converted.

Samuil FEINBERG (1890-1962) Piano Sonatas No 1-6 - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68233 [74:28] [RHa] Extraordinary music, playing and sound - acquire without delay.

César FRANCK (1822-1890) Rédemption - Eve-Maud Hubeaux (mezzo-soprano) Vlaams Radio Ch, Royal de Liège PO/Hervé Niquet rec. 2018 MUSIQUE EN WALLONIE MEW1994 [51:28] [MR] An excellent performance of Franck’s woefully overlooked masterpiece.

Girolamo FRESCOBALDI (1583-1643) Toccate, Capricci, Fiori Musicali - Francesco Cera (harpsichord, organ) Riccardo Pisani (tenor) David Maria Gentile (solo voice) Ens Arte Musica/Walter Testolin/Andrés Montilla-Acurero rec. 2015-2018 ARCANA A463 [7 CDs: 489 mins] [SG] A set guaranteed to yield bountiful rewards.

Detlev GLANERT (b. 1960) Oceane - Maria Bengtsson (soprano) Nikolai Schukoff (tenor) Ch & O Deutsche Oper Berlin/Donald Runnicles rec. 2019 OEHMS OC985 [44:31 + 50:57] [SB] A rare thing: a successful and enjoyable modern opera.

Leopold GODOWSKY (1870-1938) 53 Studies on the Chopin Études Vol. 1 - Konstantin Scherbakov (piano) rec. 2019 MARCO POLO 8.225372 [79:00] [JWe] A magnificent feat of pianism, full of jaw dropping virtuosity and some lovely colouring throughout.

André Ernest Modeste GRÉTRY (1741-1813) Raoul Barbe-Bleue - Matthieu Lécroart (bass) Chantal Santon-Jeffrey (soprano) François Rougier (tenor) O Nord/Mike Fentross rec. 2018 APARTÉ AP214 [2 CDs: 87:01] [MP] An outstanding presentation of Grétry’s long-unperformed gothically-comic opera.

Louis-Gabriel GUILLEMAIN (1705-1770) Sonatas - Ensemble la Française rec. 2020 MUSICA FICTA MF8034 [71:07] [JV] The Ensemble la Française fully master the art of a galant conversation.

Lars Petter HAGEN (b. 1975) Harmonium Repertoire - Cikada/Christian Eggen rec. 2019 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1190 [48:21] [RHa] The quietness of this extraordinary disc and its spare means of production are in completely inverse proportion to its impact.

Reynaldo HAHN (1874-1947) Complete Songs - Tassis Christoyannis (baritone) Jeff Cohen (piano) rec. 2018/19 BRU ZANE BZ2002 [4 CDs: 253.09] [SG] I cannot praise this whole venture too highly.

Reynaldo HAHN (1874-1947) L'heure exquise - Anastasia Prokofieva (soprano) Sergey Rybin (piano) rec. 2018 STONE 5060192780888 [60:55] [IL] Totally exquisite.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Messiah - RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie Alte Musik Berlin/Justin Doyle rec. 2020 PENTATONE PTC5186853 [50:35 + 83:55] [MP] Beautiful performances and exquisite sound places this among the top rank of authentic instrument versions of the Messiah.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Arias - Avery Amereau (contralto) Philharmonia Baroque O/Nicholas McGegan rec. 2019 PHILHARMONIA PBP-13 [76:09] [GPu] A remarkable debut solo album, and delight from beginning to end for any Handelian.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Tullochgorum: Arrangements of Scottish Songs - The Poker Club Band rec. 2016 BIS BIS-2471 SACD [61:38] [RHa] A delightful hour’s listening.

Michael HAYDN (1737-1806) The Collection rec. 1972-2013 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95885 [28 CDs] [SSi] This is a wonderful set, which should win new friends for Michael Haydn and his music.

Jake HEGGIE (b. 1961) Unexpected Shadows - Jamie Barton (mezzo) Jake Heggie (piano) Matt Haimovitz (cello) rec. 2019 PENTATONE PTC5186836 [66:40] [MP] A not to be missed recital of immense artistry combined with exceptionally thoughtful musical selection.

Pieter HELLENDAAL (1721-1799) "Cambridge" Sonatas - Johannes Pramsohler (violin) Gulrim Choď (cello) Philippe Grisvard (harpsichord) rec. 2018/19 AUDAX ADX13720 [68:40] [JV] A strong candidate for my list of recordings of the year.

Swan HENNESSY (1866-1929) Complete String quartets, Sérénade, Petit Trio Celtique - RTÉ ConTempo Qt rec. 2017 RTÉ LYRIC FM CD159 [75:32] [HC] A marvellous release

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Kammermusik - Christopher Park (piano) Bruno Philippe (cello) Kronberg Academy Soloists, Schleswig-Holstein Festival O/Christoph Eschenbach rec. 2018 ONDINE ODE1341-2 [67:04] [GPJ] Fabulous music, played with style and wit by these predominantly young musicians.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Planets - Montreal Symphony Orchestra & Chrous/Charles Dutoit rec. 1986 DECCA 476 1724 [52:54] [MR] Almost three and a half decades on, this still has the power to impress both musically and, above all, sonically.

Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) Missa Sabrinensis - Bach Ch, BBC Concert O/David Hill rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68294 [71:32] [JQ] This highly impressive account of Missa Sabrinensis does full justice to the stature of the work.

Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) Missa Sabrinensis - Bach Ch, BBC Concert O/David Hill rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68294 [71:32] [WK] A superlative disc in every regard.

Ketil HVOSLEF (b. 1939) Chamber Works Vol. 7 rec. 2018/19 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1200 [53:56] [SSi] One of the most rewarding of the seven volumes released so far.

Gunnar IDENSTAM (b. 1961) Metal Angel - Gunnar Idenstam (organ) rec. 2020 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0495 [73:11] [GF] Broadminded organ lovers are advised to invest in this larger-than-life adventure!

Leoš JANÁCEK (1854-1928) The Diary of One Who Disappeared, Říkadla, Moravian folksongs - Nicky Spence (tenor) Václava Housková (mezzo) Victoria Samek (clarinet) Julius Drake (piano) Voice Ens rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68282 [62:21] [ST] Marvellous – a real winner.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854–1928) Piano Sonata, On An Overgrown Path, In the Mists - Thomas Adčs (piano) rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD600 [66:50] [RHa] Janáček’s great piano trilogy has never sounded fresher, or more contemporary.

Jēkabs JANČEVSKIS (b. 1992) Aeternum - Mixed Ch of Riga Cathedral Choir School/Jurģis Cābulis rec. 2018/19 HYPERION CDA68328 [56:59] [MR] An arresting beauty, with an immensity of imagery and emotional intensity which demands repeated listening.

Jēkabs JANČEVSKIS (b. 1992) Aeternum - Mixed Ch of Riga Cathedral Choir School/Jurģis Cābulis rec. 2018/19 HYPERION CDA68328 [56:59] [DJB] Arrestingly beautiful and dramatic contemporary choral works that might make me a convert.

Johann Gottlieb JANITSCH (1708-c1763) Trio Sonatas - Berlin Friday Academy rec. 2019 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95977 [72:24] [JV] The performers tackle this repertoire with verve and energy.

JOSQUIN Des Prés (c.1450-1521) Masses - Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips rec. 2019 GIMELL CDGIM051 [71:36] [BW] This crowning achievement of a superb cycle joins my short-list for Recordings of the Year.

Giovanni Girolamo KAPSBERGER (1580-1651) Che fai tů? Villanelles - Les Kapsber'girls rec. 2017/18 MUSO MU-037 [64:55] [JV] The importance of this disc can hardly be overstated.

Walter KAUFMANN (1907-1984) Chamber Works - ARC Ens rec. 2020 CHANDOS CHAN20170 [77:37] [SG] Spicy and eclectic – a fascinating fusion of Western, Indian and Oriental styles.

Reinhard KEISER (1676-1739) Der blutige und sterbende Jesus - Cantus Thuringia, Capella Thuringia/Bernhard Klapprott rec. 2018 CPO 555 259-2 [2 CDs: 128:54] [JV] A marvellous oratorio whose rediscovery has to be considered an event of major importance.

Jesper KOCH (b. 1967) Dreamscapes - Michaela Fukačová (cello) Eugen Tichindeleanu (violin) John Kruse (clarinet) Odense SO/Justin Brown rec. 2017 DACAPO 6.220579 SACD [67:41] [RHa] Three terrific new works in outstanding performances and sound.

Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950) Les chants de Nectaire - Nicola Woodward (flute) rec. 2019 HOXA HS190205 [60:50] [DC] Remarkable and under-appreciated repertoire, beautifully performed and recorded.

KOMITAS (1869-1935) Divine Liturgy - Latvian Radio Ch/Sigvards Klava rec. 2019 DELOS DE3590 [79.47] [MW] Extraordinary and deeply affecting music, opening eyes to the beauty and devotion of the Armenian tradition in loving performances.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Violin Concerto, String Sextet - Andrew Haveron (violin) RTÉ Concert O/John Wilson, Sinfonia of London Ch Ens rec. 2015/19 CHANDOS CHAN20135 [56:32] [GPJ] An outstanding issue – marvellous music, superbly played and given top-notch Chandos recorded sound.

Tőnu KŐRVITS (b. 1969) Hymns to the Nordic Lights - Estonian Ntl SO/Risto Joost rec. 2015-19 ONDINE ODE1349-2 [57:42] [DC] Substantial and satisfying: sharpen your senses and dive in.

Tőnu KŐRVITS (b. 1969) You Are Light and Morning - Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra/Risto Joost rec. 2019 ONDINE ODE1363-2 [62:05] [HC] A highly desirable disc.

Cyrillus KREEK [1889-1962) The Suspended Harp of Babel - Vox Clamantis/Jaan-Eik Tulve rec. 2018 ECM NEW SERIES 2620 [69:47] [WH] Buy this disc.

Johann KRIEGER (1651-1735) Complete Harpsichord and Organ Music - Alejandro Casal (harpsichord & organ) rec. 2018/19 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95873 [68:30 + 67:47] [GPu] This fine recording should address Krieger’s little-known status.

Božidar KUNC (1903-1964) Fran LHOTKA (1883-1962) & Josip Štolcer SLAVENSKI (1896-1955) String Quartets - Sebastian String Qt rec. 2018 CPO 555 297-2 [56:29] [SG] Croatian music infectiously brought to life.

Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE (1751-1796) Phčdre - Judith van Wanroij (soprano) Julien Behr (tenor) Purcell Ch, Orfeo O/György Vashegyi rec. 2019 BRU ZANE BZ1040 [60:15 + 76:15] [MC] An exceptional new recording.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Kaleidoscope - Shin-Haea Kang (piano) rec. 2019 OEHMS OC1713 [72:53] [JWe] Buy this disc!

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) & Sigismond THALBERG (1812-1871) Opera transcriptions & fantasias - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68320 [75:02] [DM] Remarkable repertoire, peerless pianism and exemplary engineering; this is sure to be high on my list of the year’s very best releases.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) & Sigismond THALBERG (1812-1871) Opera transcriptions & fantasies - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68320 [75:04] [JWe] Well on the way to being my favourite disc of the year.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) & Sigismond THALBERG (1812-1871) Opera Transcriptions & Fantasies - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68320 [75:04] [RCh] I cannot praise this highly enough.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Complete Piano Works Vol. 54 - Jenő Jandó (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.574059 [77:58] [RC] Lisztians and piano connoisseurs take note!

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Between Heaven & Hell - Joseph Moog (piano) rec. 2018 ONYX 4195 [63:44] [JWe] I’ve run out of superlatives for this disc.

Duarte LOBO (c.1565-1646) Masses, Responsories & Motets - Cupertinos/Luís Toscano rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68306 [70:47] [GH] Thrilling.

Jan Antonín LOSY (c.1650-1721) Note d’oro - Jakob Lindberg (lute) rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2462 SACD [82:15] [GPu] Music, performer and instrument complement one another perfectly in a revelatory recording.

Nicholas LUDFORD (c.1490-1557) Heavenly Songes - Christophe Deslignes (portative organ); La Quintina/Jérémie Couleau (tenor) rec. 2019 PARATY PTY220191 [60:45] [BW] An excellent example of the daily Lady Masses composed by a neglected master of Tudor church music.

Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687) Isis - Ève-Maud Hubeaux (mezzo-soprano), Bénédicte Tauran (soprano), Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset rec. 2019 APARTÉ AP216 [77:00 + 79] [SSi] A valuable addition to the growing catalogue of Lully’s music on disc.

Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687) Armide - Véronique Gens (soprano) Reinoud Van Mechelen (tenor) Chœur et Orchestre Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet rec. April 2019 ALPHA 973 [137:08] [SSi] I prefer the original but this version deserves the highest praise.

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) Symphonies Nos 2 & 3 - Finnish Radio SO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2018 ONDINE ODE1332-5 SACD [61:40] [SB] Splendid performances of these now well-established symphonies.

Sir James MACMILLAN (b 1958) Symphony No. 4, Viola Concerto - Lawrence Power (viola) BBC Philharmonic/Martyn Brabbins rec 2019 HYPERION CDA68317 [72:27] [RHa] Exhilarating, moving, elegant, demanding, inevitable, masterly and timely.

Sir James MacMILLAN (b. 1959) The Sun Danced, Symphony No. 5 - The Sixteen, Genesis Sixteen, Britten Sinfonia/Harry Christophers rec. 2019 CORO COR16179 [78:54] [JQ] This symphony is a new work of great importance and great conviction, and has been stunningly realised here.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 2 - Chen Reiss (soprano) Tamara Mumford (mezzo) Orfeó Catalŕ, Palau Música Catalana Chamber Ch, Munich PO/Gustavo Dudamel rec. 2019 UNITEL EDITION Blu-ray 802904 [91 mins] [RC] Great Mahler in any format.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 4 - Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Minnesota O/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2356 SACD [59:25] [MW] This performance belongs among the very finest Mahler 4th recordings, never routine in any way.

Jaakko MÄNTYJÄRVI (b. 1963) Choral works - Ch Trinity College Cambridge/Stephen Layton rec. 2018-20 HYPERION CDA68266 [70:54] [MR] A fabulous disc in terms of performance, music, recording and accompanying documentation.

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Violin Concertos Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Sonata for solo violin - Franz Peter Zimmermann (violin) Bamberg SO/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2018-2020 BIS BIS-2457 SACD [74:40] [JW] In every way it reveals Zimmermann as a soloist of intellectual and technical eloquence.

Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809–1847) Piano Concerto No. 1, Double Concerto - Lachezar Stankov (piano) Ivo Stankov (violin) Royal PO/Linus Lerner rec. 2019 MERIDIAN CDE84656 [64:06] [GF] A disc to treasure.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Vespro della Beata Vergine - Ensemble Pygmalion/Raphaël Pichon rec. 2019 CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES SPECTACLES CVS018 DVD [117 mins] [RWe] This magnificent performance has an atmospheric aural and visual effect.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) L’Orfeo - Emiliano Gonzalez Toro (tenor) Ens vocal de Poche, I Gemelli rec. 2020 NAĎVE V7176 [42.58 + 53.36] [GH] This should become a classic in due course.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Vespro - La Tempęte/Simon-Pierre Bestion rec. 2018 ALPHA 552 [2 CDs: 142:07] [RHa] It’s Monteverdi’s Vespers, but not as we know it; a thoroughly life-enhancing experience.

Cristobal de MORALES (c.1500-1563) Super Lamentationes - Capella de Ministrers / Carles Magraner rec. 2019 CAPELLA DE MINISTRERS CDM2048 [59:34] [GH] A very special recording.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos Nos 20 & 21 - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) Manchester Camerata/Gábor Takács-Nagy rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20083 [65:08] [RHa] This is rapidly becoming THE modern instrument cycle of choice.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) Piano Concertos Vol. 5 -Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) Manchester Camerata/Gábor Takács-Nagy rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20137(2) [60.49 + 64.22] [CRa] These are discs to treasure, and play often.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos 10, 11 & 23 - Robert Blocker, Peter Frankl (piano) Statera Qt, Yale Philharmonia/William Boughton rec. 2018 NIMBUS NI6394 [73:32] [DD] A highly enjoyable set of three Mozart piano concertos, in different forms, very well played and recorded.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Concertos Nos 3 & 5 - Kurpfalz CO/So Jin Kim (violin) rec. 2019 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38295 SACD [52:47] [DD] A really magnificent achievement.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791), Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) & Édouard du PUY (1770-1822) Bassoon Concertos - Bram van Sambeek (bassoon) Swedish CO/Alexei Ogrintchouk rec. 2019 BIS BIS-2467 SACD [66:15] [GPJ] None shall sleep through this disc – what a winner!

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos Nos 5, 15 & 16 - Anne-Marie McDermott (piano), Odense SO/Kenneth Montgomery, Gilbert Varga, Andreas Delfs rec. 2017/18 BRIDGE 9523 [69:54] [RC] Simply excellent Mozart artistry.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Idomeneo - Eric Cutler (tenor) Anett Frisch (soprano) Teatro Real Ch & O/Ivor Bolton rec. 2019 OPUS ARTE OABD7276D Blu-ray [120 mins] [PCG] Singing, conducting, staging and directing all come together here.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) & Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Clarinet quintets - Eli Eban (clarinet) Alexander String Qt rec. 2019 FOGHORN CLASSICS FCL2021 [71:26] [GPu] Beautiful, deeply expressive performances of two of the greatest works in the canon of chamber music.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) 10th Anniversary Collection: Symphonies and Requiem - Scottish CO/Sir Charles Mackerras rec. 2002-2009 LINN CKD651 [BW]  Insight, playing and recording make this a must for anyone who didn’t rush out to buy the original releases.

Nikolay MYASKOVSKY (1881-1950) Symphony No. 6, Slavonic Overture - Yurlov State Ch, USSR State SO/Kirill Kondrashin, Yevgeny Svetlanov rec. 1959/93 ALTO ALC1421 [77:06] [GT] A release that highlights one of the great 20th century symphonies.

Olga NEUWIRTH (b. 1968) Orchestral works - Hĺkan Hardenberger (trumpet) Antoine Tamestit (viola) Gustav Mahler Jugend O/Ingo Metzmacher, ORF RSO Wien/Susanna Mälkki, Vienna PO/Daniel Harding rec. 2009-15 KAIROS 0015010KAI [65:04] [RHa] Three superb examples of 21st century orchestral writing from the singular sonic and conceptual imagination of Olga Neuwirth.

Johannes OCKEGHEM (c.1420-1497) Complete Songs Vol. 1 - Blue Heron/Scott Metcalfe rec. 2018 BLUE HERON BHCD1010 [76.49] [GH] All quite brilliantly done and completed by a first-class recording.

Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880) Les Contes d’Hoffmann - John Osborn, Irene Roberts, Ch Dutch Ntl Opera, Rotterdam PO/Carlo Rizzi rec. 2018 C MAJOR 752904 Blu-ray [165 mins] [RWe] A spectacular and effective updating, with an outstanding cast.

Otto OLSSON (1879-1964) Symphony - Gävleborg SO/Mats Liljefors rec. 1996 STERLING CDS1020-2 [57:20] [SG] What a find!

Johann PACHELBEL (1653-1706) Complete Organ Works III - Michael Belotti, Christian Schmitt, James David Christie (organ) rec. 2009-13 CPO 777 558-2 SACD [3 discs: 189:34] [SSi] A very fine conclusion to this survey.

Pietro Domenico PARADISI (1706/07-1791) Sonatas - Anna Paradiso (harpsichord, clavichord & fortepiano) rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2415 SACD [87:57] [DC] Excellent in every regard.

Sir Charles Hubert Hastings PARRY (1848-1918) Judith - Sarah Fox (soprano) Kathryn Rudge (mezzo) London Mozart Players/William Vann rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5268 SACD [61:40 + 69:32] [JQ] A major and distinguished addition to the Parry discography.

Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736) Stabat Mater Nicola Antonio PORPORA (1686-1768) Salve Regina Leonardo LEO (1694-1744) Beatus vir qui timet - Sandrine Piau (soprano), Christopher Lowrey (countertenor), Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset rec. 2018 ALPHA 449 [66:11] [SSi] Piau and Lowry shine in this wonderful performance which surpasses Rousset’s earlier recording.

John PICKARD (b. 1963) The Gardener of Aleppo & other chamber works - Susan Bickley (mezzo) Nash Ens/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2018 BIS BIS2461 SACD [79.22] [PCG] A very impressive range of works in excellent performances.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Wind Music - Ens Confoederatio rec. 2019 MDG 903 2152-6 SACD [69:05] [GPJ] Brilliant performances of this delightful and entertaining music by this Swiss-based ensemble.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Sonatas Nos 6-8 - Steven Osborne (piano) rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68298 [74:21] [DM] White-hot performances, straight from the forge; superlative sound, even by Hyperion’s stellar standards.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Sonatas Nos 6-8 - Steven Osborne (piano) rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68298 [74:28] [LW] Steven Osborne demonstrates a real affinity for Prokofiev piano sonatas.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Sonatas Nos 6-8 - Steven Osborne (piano) rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68298 [74:28] [TB] Magnificently assured yet highly sensitive performances of this uncompromising music.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphonies Nos 1-3 - Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Andrew Litton rec. 2015/17 BIS BIS-2174 SACD [86:33] [RC] Sure to be on my Recordings of the Year list.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Suites from The Gambler & Tale of The Stone Flower - Lahti SO/Dima Slobodeniouk rec. 2016-18 BIS BIS-2301 SACD [62:42] [RC] A disc to covet, and not just for Prokofiev mavens.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Songs & Romances - Margarita Gritskova (mezzo) Maria Prinz (piano) rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574030 [66:58] [RC] Quite outstanding.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Songs & Romances - Margarita Gritskova (mezzo) Maria Prinz (piano) rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574030 [66:58] [GF] Further evidence of the versatility of Margarita Gritskova as a song interpreter.

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) The Fairy Queen - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Roderick Williams (baritone) Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh SIGNUM SIGCD615 [69:28 + 69:35] [ST] McCreesh’s Signum/Gabrieli releases are turning into the most reliably recommendable series in the classical music world of today.

Henry PURCELL (1659–1695) One Charming Night - David Hansen (countertenor) Oslo Circles rec. 2018 SIMAX CLASSICS PSC1367 [57:58] [GF] Excellent playing and singing, an interesting programme with several goodies, and a recording from the top drawer.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Preludes, Études-Tableaux, Moments musicaux - Sergei Babayan (piano) rec. 2019 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 9181 [61:14] [CC] An unalloyed success.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Sonata No.1, Moments Musicaux, Études-Tableaux - Alfonso Soldano (piano) rec. 2019 DIVINE ART DDA25155 [79:56] [JF] Soldano’s playing left me both impressed and amazed.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Sonata No. 1, Moments Musicaux, Études-Tableaux - Alfonso Soldano (piano) rec. 2019 DIVINE ART DDA25155 [79:56] [RWe] If this coupling appeals, then Soldano’s very fine disc will certainly satisfy.

Einojuhani RAUTAVAARA (1928-2016) Vigilia - Niall Chorell (tenor), Tuukka Haapaniemi (bass), Helsinki Chamber Choir / Nils Schweckendiek rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2422 SACD [70:34] [JQ] A wonderful new recording of a composition of great sincerity and eloquence.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Jeux de Miroirs - Javier Perianes (piano), O de Paris/Josep Pons rec. 2017/18 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902326 [81:05] [JQ] I loved this disc.

Antonín REJCHA (1770-1836) Wind Quintets - Belfiato Quintet rec. 2018 SUPRAPHON SU42702 [68:04] [SSi] A wonderful disc which left me longing for more from the Belfiato Quintet.

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Feste Romane, Fontane di Roma, Pini di Roma - Sinfonia of London/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5261 SACD [60:06] [NB] A genuine triumph.

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879–1936) Roman Trilogy - Sinfonia of London/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5261 SACD [60:06] [JQ] A fabulous disc.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Piano Concertos Nos 2, 4 & 5 - Jeanne-Marie Darré (piano) rec. 1953-1965 SOLSTICE SOCD 363-64 [62:53 + 74:48] [JW] Darré’s inexhaustible sensitivity and éclat radiate from every bar of this invigorating release.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Carnival of the Animals Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Mother Goose Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Peter & the Wolf Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra - Britten-Pears O/Marin Alsop (narrator) rec. 2017/18 NAXOS NBD0102V Blu-ray [98 mins] [RC] Alsop does a marvelous job in both roles.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Le Timbre d’argent - Accentus, Les Sičcles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2017 BRU ZANE BZ1041 [76:46 + 70:43] [SSi] Top-notch performance and presentation of Saint-Saëns’s first opera, a release to treasure.

Giuseppe SAMMARTINI (1695-1750) Sonatas for Recorder & Basso Continuo Vol. 1 - Andreas Böhlen (recorder) Daniel Rosin (cello) Pietro Prosser (lute) Michael Hell (harpsichord) rec. 2018 AEOLUS AE10306 SACD [73:20] [JV] These performances are compelling and often outright exciting.

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) Sonatas Vol. 2 - Federico Colli (piano) rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20134 [62:42] [RHa] Yet more riveting Scarlatti from Colli – truly a disc in which to lose oneself.

Franz SCHMIDT (1874-1939) Complete Symphonies - Frankfurt RSO/Paavo Järvi rec. 2013-18 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4838336 [3 CDs: 180:43] [SG] As Schmidt symphony cycles go, this one ascends to the top of the leaderboard.

Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958) Mélodies - Sybille Diethelm (soprano), Annina Haug (mezzo-soprano), Nino Aurelio Gmünder (tenor), René Perler (bass-baritone), Fabienne Romer, Edward Rushton (piano) rec. 2020 RESONUS RES10265 [72:33] [SSi] This disc, indispensable for all fans of the mélodie, shows Florent Schmitt as a master song composer.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Violin Concerto, Verklärte Nacht - Isabelle Faust (violin) Swedish RSO/Daniel Harding rec. 2018/19 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902341 [63:12] [ST] A sparkling treasure with the potential to change your understanding of Schoenberg’s music.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphonies Vol. 2 - City of Birmingham SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5245 SACD [74:11] [RC] I would be surprised if you could do significantly better with any other recordings.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Thomas Oliemans (baritone), Paolo Giacometti (piano) rec. 2018 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS42119 [71:24] [GF] A very touching, very involved reading with a warm heart.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Where Only Stars Can Hear Us - Karim Sulayman (tenor) Yi-heng Yang (fortepiano) rec. 2019 AVIE AV2400 [67:18] [GF] Exceptional sensitivity.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Impromptus, Moments musicaux, Klavierstücke - Jörg Demus (piano) rec. 1958 ELOQUENCE 4840777 [54:10 + 57:20] [DD] A very apt tribute to a piano craftsman - delightfully performed and re-mastered.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphony No.9 Ernst KŘENEK (1900-1991) Static and Ecstatic - Cleveland O/Franz Welser-Möst rec. 2020 THE CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA TCO0002 SACD [77:03] [MJ] A fresh and charming performance of Schubert's Ninth.

Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896) Piano Trio Fanny MENDELSSOHN (1805-1847) Piano Trio, String Quartet - Nash Ens rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68307 [71:49] [SB] A rewarding coupling of early romantic chamber works.

Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896) Piano Trio Fanny MENDELSSOHN HENSEL (1805-1847) Piano Trio, String Quartet - Nash Ens rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68307 [71:49] [SSi] Performances that shed new light on these works.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphonies Nos 2 & 3 - NBC SO/Arturo Toscanini rec. 1946/49 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC584 [66:20] [DD] Another Pristine triumph: inspirational Schumann by Toscanini and magnificently restored.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Dichterliebe, Lenau-Lieder und Requiem Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Wesendonck Lieder - Christoph Prégardien (tenor) Michael Gees (piano) rec. 2018 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72788 SACD [63:36] [GF] Full marks.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56) Violin Sonatas - Eriikka Maalismaa (violin), Emil Holmström (piano) rec: 2018 ALBA ABCD438 [73:06] [RHa] A truly unexpected find; fascinating, probing accounts of all three of Schumann’s late violin sonatas.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810–1856) Lieder - Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo) Johannes Weisser (baritone) Nils Anders Mortensen (piano) rec. 2018 LAWO LWC1197 [59:44] [GF] Not to be missed!

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56) Complete Music for Piano 4-Hands - Roberto Plano, Paola Del Negro (piano duet) BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95675 [2 CDs 129:12] [PBW] This excellently performed and recorded collection is an outstanding bargain.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin Concerto No. 1 Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony No. 5 - Baiba Skride (violin) Gewandhaus O Leipzig/Andris Nelsons rec. 2019 ACCENTUS MUSIC ACC20478 DVD [103 mins] [MG] A stunning performance of the Shostakovich by Baiba Skride.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony No. 10 - Bavarian RSO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2010 BR KLASSIK 900185 [53.48] [WH] A magnificent Shostakovich 10 from the late and much lamented Jansons.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906–1975) Symphony No.11 - London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2019 LPO LPO0118 [58:38] [BW] A knock-out performance of this searingly intense symphony.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin Concertos - Alina Ibragimova (violin) State Academic SO of Russia ‘Evgeny Svetlanov’/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68313 [71:29] [LW] Performances that are a cause for celebration.

Howard SKEMPTON (b. 1947) Preludes & Fugues, Nocturnes, Reflections, Images - William Howard (piano) rec. 2019 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100116 [72:28] [DC] A lovely recording of some superb piano music.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphony No. 2, King Christian II Suite - Gothenburg SO/Santu-Matias Rouvali rec. 2019 ALPHA CLASSICS 574 [70:43] [RMo] Masterly Sibelius, alternately refined and red-blooded.

Sir Arthur SOMERVELL (1863-1937) Maud, A Shropshire Lad - Roderick Williams (baritone) Susie Allan (piano) rec. 2019 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0615 [62:24] A disc which is a game changer in terms of our appreciation of Arthur Somervell’s songs.

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) & Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1882) Remembered - Wayne Marshall (organ) Cambridge Singers/John Rutter rec. 1992 COLLEGIUM RECORDS CSCD524 [45:10 + 48:01] [GPJ] Beautiful music in quite exceptional performances - not to be missed!

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Die Frau ohne Schatten - Stephen Gould (tenor), Camilla Nylund (soprano), Nina Stemme (soprano), Wiener Staatsoper Ch & O/Christian Thielemann rec. 2019 ORFEO C991203 [3 CDs: 209:12] [ST] The finest live Frau we have on CD.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Also sprach Zarathustra Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Symphony No. 3 - Philadelphia O/Eugene Ormandy rec. 1973/75 DUTTON CDLX7379 SACD [68:55] [RMo] Two stunning recordings of orchestral blockbusters revitalised by superb remastering.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Tod und Verklärung, Don Juan, Sechs Lieder - Louise Alder (soprano) Deutsches SO Berlin/Robin Ticciati rec. 2019 LINN CKD640 [68:34] [ST] A great success.

Jan Pieterszoon SWEELINCK (1562-1621) Fantasias, Toccatas & Variations - Richard Egarr (harpsichord) rec. 2018 LINN CKD589 [76:13] [GPu] There is vibrancy and excitement in these committed performances.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Tchaikovsky 2020 -Tatarstan Ntl SO/Alexander Sladkovsky rec. 2019 SONY CLASSICS [10 CDs: 519:15] [GT] Highly recommended, and probably one of the finest releases of the year.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Seasons - Boris Bloch (piano) rec. 2018 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38509 [80:05] [MG] Boris Bloch’s knockout performance shows Tchaikovsky’s solo piano music to be emphatically more than just for the drawing room.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681–1767) The Colourful Telemann - Indianapolis Baroque O/Barthold Kuijken rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.573900 [64:41] [BW] Looks likely to become a perennial favourite.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Frankfurt Sonatas - Gottfried von der Goltz (violin), Annekatrin Beller (cello), Torsten Johann (harpsichord/positive organ), Thomas C. Boysen (theorbo) rec. 2018 APARTÉ AP217 [66:01] [MC] An album to treasure.

Sigismond THALBERG (1812-1871) L’art du chant appliqué au piano - Paul Wee (piano) rec. 2020 BIS BIS-2515 SACD [67:56 + 71:15] [DM] This follow-up to Paul Wee’s Alkan is everything I’d hoped for; it’s a superb recording too, even by the stellar standards of the house.

Erkki-Sven TÜÜR (b. 1959) Symphony No. 9, Sow the Wind - Estonian Phil Chamber Ch, Festival O/Paavo Järvi rec. 2018/19 ALPHA CLASSICS 595 [60:06] [HC] A superb release with much to offer; the Ninth Symphony is a must-hear.

Knut VAAGE (b. 1961) Svev, Bumerang, Rabalder - Einar Rřttingen (piano) Valen Trio rec. 2019 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1199 [61:36] [RHa] A riveting trio of pieces - if listeners are yet to encounter Vaage’s singular music this is a fine place to start.

Pēteris VASKS (b. 1946) Viola Concerto, Symphony for Strings - Sinfonietta Rīga/Maxim Rysanov (viola) rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2443 SACD [65:44] [ST] Poignant, heartfelt, unforgettable.

Pēteris VASKS (b. 1946) Viola Concerto, Symphony for Strings - Sinfonietta Rīga/Maxim Rysanov (viola) rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2443 SACD [65:44] [SA] Do not fail to give this disc a hearing for it will surely captivate you.

Pēteris VASKS (b. 1946) Violin concerto, Lonely angel, Plainscapes, Dona nobis pacem - Daniel Rowland (violin) Maja Bogdanović (cello) Consensus Vocalis, Stift Festival O rec. 2019 CHANNEL CLASSICS CC72830 [71:56] [SB] Distant Light is a modern classic and the other works here are also fine.

Pēteris VASKS (b.1946) Lonely Angel, Piano Trio, Plainscapes - Trio Palladio rec. 2019 ONDINE ODE13432 [62:05] [SSi] A splendid disc with a fantastic performance of Episodi.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphony No. 5 Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Clarinet Concerto - Philharmonia O/Michael Collins (clarinet) rec. 2019 BIS BIS-2367 SACD [68:30] [RC] Excellent renditions of each work.

Ian VENABLES (b. 1955) Love lives beyond the tomb - Mary Bevan (soprano), Allan Clayton (tenor), Carducci String Quartet, Graham J. Lloyd (piano) rec. 2019 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD617 [78:42] [JQ] An essential purchase for all collectors who appreciate English song.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901) Simon Boccanegra - Luca Salsi (baritone) Marina Rebeka (soprano) Vienna State Opera Ch Konzertvereinigung, Vienna PO/Valery Gergiev rec. 2019 UNITEL EDITION Blu-ray 802704 [142 mins] [RC] A most rewarding addition to the catalogue.

Louis VIERNE (1870-1937) Organ Symphonies Vol. 3 - Stephen Tharp (organ) rec. 2010/14 AEOLUS AE11191 SACD [86:06] [SG] If the previous volumes are pitched at the same level, the whole series becomes a reference cycle.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Concerti per violino VIII ‘Il teatro' - Le Concert de la Loge/Julien Chauvin (violin) rec. 2019 NAĎVE OP30585 [62:10] [MR] Mesmerising magic in the most gloriously invigorating manner.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Concerti per La Pietŕ - Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi rec. 2019 GLOSSA GCD923414 [71:04] [GPu] A splendid disc, but all admirers of this ensemble and its leader, or of Vivaldi’s music, will not need my encouragement to acquire this disc.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Concerti per Violoncello III - L'Onda Armonica/Christophe Coin (cello) rec. 2018 NAÏVE OP30574 [58:29] [SSi] One of the most enjoyable hours in the company of Vivaldi that I have had in a long time.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde - Stuart Skelton (tenor) Gun-Brit Barkmin (soprano) West Australian SO & Ch/Asher Fisch rec. 2018 ABC CLASSICS 4818518 [3 CDs: 222.01] [PCG] A very real contender to be one of the great recordings of Tristan und Isolde.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Walküre - Stuart Skelton (tenor) Emily Magee, Nina Stemme (soprano) Royal Opera House O/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2018 OPUS ARTE DVD OA1308D [254 mins] [RC] A tremendous performance!

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Träume - Jenufa Gleich (soprano) BBC Ntl O Wales/Fabrice Bollon rec. 2019 STONE RECORDS 5060 19278 1038 [59.15] [PCG] I cannot wait to hear Jenufa Gleich in some signficiant Wagnerian roles.

Sir William WALTON (1902-1983) & Constant LAMBERT (1905-1951) Façades - James Geer (tenor) Andrew West, Ronald Woodley (piano) rec. 2019 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0614 [63:56] [NB] An absolute gem of a disc in every regard.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Euryanthe - Jacquelyn Wagner (soprano), Norman Reinhardt (tenor), Arnold Schoenberg Ch, ORF Vienna RSO/Constantin Trinks rec. 2018 NAXOS Blu-ray NBD0107V [167 mins] [MP] A superlative cast and thoughtful, illuminating production make for a revelatory experience of an opera long known for its insurmountable difficulties.

Douglas WEILAND (b. 1954) Strinq Quartet Nos 4 & 5 - Melbourne Qt rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.574028 [62:13] [RHa] Both these quartets are magnificent and quite merit the authoritative performances and sublime recording.

Kurt WEILL (1900-1950) Street Scene - Patricia Racette, Paulo Szot, Ch & O Teatro Real Madrid/Tim Murray rec. 2018 BELAIR CLASSIQUES BAC162 DVD [160 mins] [MP] An excellent cast and illuminating production make the strongest case possible for Weill’s powerful score.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Flute Concertos, Pieces - Claudia Stein (flute) Elizaveta Blumina (piano) Szczecin PO/David Robert Coleman rec. 2017/18 NAXOS 8.573931 [68:32] [SA] It includes some of the most gorgeous tunes any composer has given this most songlike instrument.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Cello Sonatas - Wojciech Fudala (cello) Michał Rot (piano) rec. 2017 DUX 1545 [59:20] [SA] Superlative playing.

Johann Samuel WELTER (1650-1720) Gott sey uns gnädig - ecco la musica/Heike Hümmer & Matthias Sprinz rec. 2018 CHRISTOPHORUS CHR77440 [73:37] [JV] A major contribution to our knowledge of German music of the late 17th century.

Charles-Marie WIDOR (1844-1937) Complete Organ Works - Joseph Nolan (organ) rec 2011-14 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD596 [8 CDs: 458:52] [RHa] Widor’s coming home; both Nolan’s fastidious preparation and visionary playing raise the bar for this repertoire.

Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI (1876–1948) Die vier Grobiane - Christina Landshamer, Susanne Bernhard (soprano) Münchner Rundfunk O/Ulf Schirmer rec. 2014 CPO 555 140-2 [58:10 + 71:54] [MP] An effervescent cast and superb musical direction make for a truly entertaining recording.

Jānis ZĀLĪTS (1884–1943) Complete Choral Songs - Latvian Radio Ch/Sigvards Kļava rec. 2012-2019 SKANI LMIC077 [54:07 + 55:41] [SG] Songs which capture the listener with their freshness, colour and touching beauty.

Pedro Aguiar (guitar) Brazilian Guitar Music rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574069 [63:48] [GF] A must for guitar lovers and fans of Brazilian music.

All My Life’s Buried Here The Story of George Butterworth prod. 2019 HADJUKINO PRODUCTIONS Blu-ray [97 mins] [JQ] An outstanding film portrait.

Amatis Trio Piano trios by Britten, Enescu & Ravel rec. 2018 CAVI-MUSIC 8553477 [69:40] [CSe] A terrific debut disc: the Amatis Trio make this music feel truly alive.

Ambarabŕ sixty1strings rec. 2019 GENUIN GEN20694 [66:05] [CSe] Full of surprises and excitement: puffs of magic dust, mesmerising sonic sound-clouds, and hot sensuousness.

Anonimo Venexian Works by Vivaldi, Gasparini & Bigaglia - Inęs d'Avena (recorder) Claudio Ribeiro (harpsichord) rec. 2018 RAMÉE RAM1905 [72:02] [JV] On my list of recordings of the year.

Lydia Maria Bader (piano) Chinese Dreams rec. 2019 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38566 [63:08] [RCh] A welcome treasure trove of evocative piano music.

Baroque Violin Sonatas Elfa Rún Kristinsdóttir (violin) Sabine Erdmann (organ) Magnus Andersson (theorbo) rec. 2019 SOLAIRE RECORDS SOL1009 [61:33] [DC] Fans of Biber form an orderly queue please.

Benaud Trio Trios by Buc, Edwards, Hindson & Stanhope rec. 2010 MELBA MR301139 [64:30] [NB] Offers listening pleasure from first to last.

Blessed Art Thou Among Women PaTRAM Institute Singers/Peter Jermihov rec. 2018 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-737 [79:11] [MR] A heart-warming and inspirational programme of Russian orthodox music, sublimely performed.

Brillez, astres nouveaux! Chantal Santon-Jeffery (soprano) Purcell Ch, Orfeo O/György Vashegyi rec. 2017 APARTÉ AP223 [76:34] [SSi] Fans of French baroque opera, and opera in general, should rush to buy this outstanding disc!

British Violin Sonatas Vol. 3 Tasmin Little (violin), Piers Lane (piano) rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20133 [70:07] [JW] A tremendous disc, sadly the last in this series.

Seong-Jin Cho (piano) The Wanderer - Works by Schubert, Berg & Liszt rec. 2019 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4837909 [64:21] [SG] Top drawer, in every respect.

Pierre Cochereau (organ) Raretés et inédits rec. 1954-1984 SOLSTICE SOCD365/84 [19 CDs: 22 hrs + DVD: 2 hrs] [SG] A remarkable tribute to a great artist.

The Cleveland Orchestra & Franz Welser-Möst A New Century rec. 2017-19 THE CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA TCO0001-3 SACD [3 discs: 188:01] [MJ] This lovingly crafted box set is a treasure.

Clytemnestra Works by Berg, Mahler & Samuel - Ruby Hughes (soprano) BBC Ntl O Wales/Jac van Steen rec. 2018 BIS BIS2408 SACD [54:46] [RWe] Whether adding to your Mahler songs, exploring Berg, or investigating murder in Mycenae, this is highly recommended.

Concurrence Works by Thorvaldsdóttir, Tómasson, Sigfúsdóttir & Pálsson - Iceland SO/Daniel Bjarnason rec. 2018/19 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92237 CD & Blu-ray [55:21] [RHa] Literally awesome music of geophysical detail and visceral impact with outstanding Sono Luminus sound as ever - miss out at your peril!

Dearest Lenny Letters from Japan and the Making of the World Maestro by Mari Yoshihara publ. 2019 OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS [MMB] Charming and delightful.

Tabea Demus (recorders, voice flute) Ohrwurm - Alex McCartney (theorbo, baroque guitar) Jonathan Rees (viola da gamba) rec. 2020 DELPHIAN DCD34243 [70:28] [GPu] An irresistible collection of ‘earworms’ chosen, arranged and played superbly.

Digressions Tony Chen Lin (piano) rec. 2018 RATTLE RATD080 [66:06] [PSe] Listen to these deeply considered, vital and characterful performances, and wonder why you have never heard of Tony Chen Lin.

Discovering Berlioz - Essays, Reviews, Talks by David Cairns publ. 2019 Toccata Press [JQ] An indispensable treasure trove for Berlioz enthusiasts.

The Encounter at Lübeck Works by Bach & Buxtehude - Vincent Boucher (organ) rec. 2017/19 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD22777 [62:57] [MR] Bach and Buxtehude heard side-by-side to their very best advantage in this absolute cracker of an disc.

English Piano Trios Trio Anima Mundi rec. 2017 DIVINE ART DDA25158 [77:53] [JF] Each one of these five ‘trios’ is special and deserves our attention.

Escales Sinfonia of London/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5252 SACD [79:05] [SB] A delightful collection and a real winner.

Escales Sinf London/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5252 SACD [79:05] [CRa] A disc full of enthusiasm and finesse, destined to become a classic.

Escales Sinfonia of London/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5252 SACD [79:05] [BW] Another very enjoyable and highly successful offering from this team.

Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) Musique? rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68287 [79:52] [RHa] Harpsichord pandemonium – thrills and thought provocation for commoners and connoisseurs alike.

European Organ Music Colin Walsh (organ) rec. 2019 PRIORY PRCD1223 [77:55] [MR] Truly stupendous organ music, organ playing and organ sound.

Fading A meditative reflection around the ancient Office of Compline - The Gesualdo Six/Owain Park (bass) rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68285 [63:59] [MP] Finely polished performances of a ravishingly atmospheric programme that is not to be missed.

Aldo Ferraresi (violin) The Gigli of the Violin rec. 1929-73 RHINE CLASSICS RH001 [18 CDs: 20 hours] [SG] No connoisseur of the art of violin playing would want to be without this remarkable collection.

Fin du Temps Works by Messiaen & Takemitsu - José Luis Estellés (clarinet) Aitzol Iturriagagoitia (violin) David Apellániz (cello) Alberto Rosado (piano) rec. 2019 IBS CLASSICS IBS72020 [61:42] [MR] Sublime performances of sublime music.

Firenze 1350: A Medieval Florentine Garden Sollazzo Ens/Anna Danilevskaia AMBRONAY AMY055 [57:21] [GH] Excellent all around.

Andor Foldes (piano) Complete Deutsche Grammophon Recordings rec. 1951-63 ELOQUENCE 4841256 [19 CDs: 1279 mins] [SG] A magnificent and comprehensive collection, constituting a worthy tribute to a great artist, musician and pianist.

The French Romantic Experience rec. 2008-19 BRU ZANE BZ2001 [10 CDs: 732:54] [MBu] A music lover’s collection should not be without this set.

Ignaz Friedman (piano) Complete Recordings rec. 1923-1941 DANACORD DACOCD 861-864 [6 CDs: 335:49] [SG] A magnificent set, indispensible for pianophiles with a passion for the Golden Age.

Galerie Dorée The Tercentenary Concert - Le Concert de la Loge/Julien Chauvin rec. 2018 BELAIR CLASSIQUES Blu-ray BAC571 [77 mins] [MP] A happy blend of beautiful performances in a beautiful Baroque setting makes for an immensely enjoyable release.

Karina Gauvin (soprano) Nuits Blanches: Opera Arias at the Court of Russia in the 18th Century - Pacific Baroque O/Alexander Weimann (fortepiano) rec. 2019 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD22791 [57:04] [GF] Gauvin is simply superb.

Ivana Gavrić (piano) Origins - Southbank Sinfonia/Karin Hendrickson rec. 2015-19 RUBICON RCD1038 [64:21] [RHa] The concept is unusual and stimulating, and it works as well in reality as it must have looked on paper.

Angela Gheorghiu (soprano) Plaisir d’amour - Alexandra Dariescu (piano) rec. 2018 DECCA 483 4999 [67:19] [GF] This should be a disc for the wish list of Angela Gheorghiu’s many admirers.

The Godfather Masters of the German & Italian Baroque - La Serenissima/Adrian Chandler rec. 2019 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD602 [64:08] [CRa] Another first-class collection from the people who put the rock into baroque.

Maria Grinberg (piano) The Art of rec. 1946-76 SCRIBENDUM SC814 [34 CDs] [SG] One of the finest piano collections I've ever had the pleasure of reviewing.

Heaven full of Stars Martin Ford (organ) Vasari Singers/Jeremy Backhouse rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574179 [81:33] [GPJ] A deeply enjoyable disc of modern choral music, performed superbly by the Vasari Singers, one of the finest chamber choirs around today.

Heifetz & Piatigorsky - The Chamber Concerts Works by Mozart, Franck, Brahms & Mendelssohn rec. 1961 PRISTINE AUDIO PACM108 [61:23 + 57:42] [RMo] A triumphant remastering of superlative performances of four seminal works.

The Hitchcock Spinet The Hitchcock Trio rec. 2019 GENUIN GEN20696 [68:04] [JV] Eloquent proof that the spinet is more than a cheap substitute for the harpsichord.

How Shostakovich Changed My Mind by Stephen Johnson publ. 2018 Notting Hill Editions [MW] A wonderful account of music and mind: an instant classic.

Hush! Papagena rec. 2019 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0608 [65:40] [JQ] Another winner from Papagena.

In Chains of Gold The English Pre-Restoration Anthem Vol. 2 - Magdalena Consort/Peter Harvey, Fretwork, His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts/William Hunt rec. 2019 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD609 [70:29] [BW] Even better than the first volume in this series.

Intermedi della Pellegrina: Firenze 1589 Coro Ricercare Ens, Compagnia Dramatoděa, Modo Antiquo/Federico Maria Sardelli rec. 2019 DYNAMIC CDS7856 [65:58] [CSe] The splendour of the Renaissance Florentine court with singing that is both wonderful and an embodiment of the wondrous.

Ermonela Jaho (soprano) Anima Rara - O Comunitat Valenciana/Andrea Battistoni rec. 2019 OPERA RARA ORR253 [70:04] [MC] Impossible to withstand the lure of this special soprano.

Jin Yin Yihan Chen (pipa), Cynthia Yeh (percussion), Emma Gerstein (flute and piccolo), Civitas Ensemble rec. 2018/2019 CEDILLE CDR90000193 [77:19] [MR] Five outstanding works combining Chinese and Western concepts and sounds, performed with exceptional intensity and commitment.

Alexandre Kantorow (piano) Works by Bartók, Brahms & Liszt rec. 2019/20 BIS BIS-2380 SACD [66:28] [RC] Kantorow's consistency throughout all four compositions clearly sets this apart from most other such varied piano collections.

Rudolf Kerer (piano) Vol 1: Concertos & Sonatas rec. 1961-84 DOREMI DHR-8086-90 [5 CDs: 380:24] [SG] A significant release that will, hopefully, put Kerer’s name back on the map.

Lament Works by Asheim, Hagen & Nordheim - Norwegian Soloists’ Ch/Grete Pedersen, Ens Allegria rec. 2018/19 BIS BIS-2431 SACD [59:08] [DC] Excellent all round - new music and performances of real power and beauty.

LA Phil 100 Centennial Birthday Gala - Zubin Mehta, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel rec. 2019 C MAJOR 753504 Blu-ray [137 mins] [LW] A hugely enjoyable celebration.

Igor Levit (piano) Encounter rec. 2020 SONY 19439786572 [49:17 + 50:01] [SG] A programme which fully encapsulates the mood of the world at this present time, offering comfort and solace.

Little Things In Odd Shapes Works by Michael Haydn & Boccherini - Istante Period Instrument Collective rec. 2018 NOVANTIQUA NA35 [55:58] [GPJ] Unfamiliar but delightful music played with charm and style by this fine ensemble.

The Long 17th Century Daniel-Ben Pienaar (piano) rec. 2018 AVIE AV2415 [75:50 + 74:58] [GPu] My joy was virtually unalloyed and constant.

Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia Cappella Romana/Alexander Lingas rec. 2016 CAPPELLA ROMANA CR420 [CD: 76:50 & Blu-ray: 80 mins] [JQ] I’ve never experienced a disc like this but it’s a real ear-opener and a formidable achievement.

Samuel Marińo (soprano) Care pupille - Händelfestspiel O Halle/Michael Hofstetter rec. 2019 ORFEO C998201 [71.36] [GF] I urge lovers of good singing to explore this superb singer.

Messe Da Pacem Works by Ravel, Villette & Castagnet - Sarah Fox (soprano) Andrew Dewar, Liam Condon (organ) Ch Royal Holloway/Rupert Gough (organ) rec. 2019 AD FONTES AF004 [75:27] [JQ] This is a distinguished release in every respect and lovers of French choral music should hasten to hear it.

Monet Quintett Wind Quintets by Dubugnon, Taffanel, Holst & Françaix rec. 2018/19 CAVI-MUSIC 8553008 [69:32] [SG] A very impressive debut CD.

La Morte della Ragione Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini rec. 2017 ALPHA 450 [73:07] [GPu] A musical statement, brilliantly played and recorded, of the powers - and dangers - of the imagination.

Music For My Love Vol. 3 Ukrainian Festival O/Paul Mann rec. 2018 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0504 [70:45] [WH] Music of the highest quality in performances to match.

The Mystery of the Natural Trumpet Krisztián Kováts (trumpet) L'arpa festante/Christoph Hesse, Rien Voskuilen rec. 2017 CPO 555 144-2 [66:57] [JV] An exciting disc, which deserves a special recommendation.

Nachtstücke Duo Amaris rec. 2019 PASCHEN RECORDS PR200060 [52:50] [ZT] A thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining and luminous experience.

Ninna Nanna Lullabies from Baroque Italy - Pino De Vittorio (voice), Laboratorio ’600/Franco Pavan rec. 2019 GLOSSA GCDP33003 [78:34] [GPu] A quite wonderful recording.

Nun danket alle Gott Julie Roset (soprano), Clematis/Stéphanie de Failly, Brice Sailly rec. 2019 RICERCAR RIC415 [62:09] [BW] One of most uplifting recordings to have come my way recently.

Marlis Petersen (soprano) Dimensionen Innenwelt - Stephan Matthias Lademann (piano) rec. 2019 SOLO MUSICA SM316 [65:01] [MC] I feel a profound admiration for Petersen at having created such a compelling album.

Piano Lessons: Reflections from a Life in Music by Vladimir Feltsman publ. 2019 BookLocker.com [MMB] Beautifully written and providing great insights.

Pictures at an Exhibition Martin Baker (organ) rec. 2019 AD FONTES AF001 [74:19] [MR] Shows off Buckfast Abbey's new Ruffatti organ and its player, Martin Baker, to glorious effect, helped by a singularly well-chosen programme.

Asier Polo (cello) Concertos by Boccherini, Vivaldi & Haydn - O Barroca de Sevilla rec. 2019 IBS CLASSICAL IBS52020 [62:58] [DJB] Soloist and orchestra dazzle in all four works.

Praga Rosa Bohemiae Cappella Mariana/Vojtěch Semerád rec. 2018 SUPRAPHON SU4273-2 [62:56] [JV] A perfect combination of an interesting programme and superb singing.

Pričres pour Notre Dame Works by Boulanger, Dupré, Demessieux & Poulenc - Colin Walsh (organ), Senior Girls of Romsey Abbey Ch/George Richford rec. 2018 REGENT REGCD538 [67:27] [MR] That rare combination of outstanding performance, sumptuous recording and gorgeous music.

Marina Rebeka (soprano) Elle - St Gallen SO/Michael Balke rec. 2019 PRIMA CLASSIC PRIMA004 [72:35] [BRa] A soprano album that is actually memorable and distinctive.

Refuge Violin sonatas by Bach, Bartók & Ben-Haim - Liv Migdal (violin) rec. 2018 GENUIN GEN19656 [66:43] [PRB] Refuge is going to be a hard act to follow, and the actual transfer to disc is second to none.

Regards sur l’infini Katharine Dain (soprano) Sam Armstrong (piano) rec. 2020 7 MOUNTAIN RECORDS 7MNTN-024 [68:14] [DC] Sublimely song passionate and introspective French songs in an attractive package.

Requiebros Rohan de Saram (cello) Junko Yamamoto (piano) rec. 2012 FIRST HAND RECORDS FHR97 [62:09] [GPu] One of the very best recorded recitals of short pieces for cello and piano that I know.

Sacred Treasures of Christmas London Oratory Schola Cantorum/Charles Cole rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68358 [76:30] [MR] A Christmas disc with a difference, that being the exceptional beauty of the music and the fabulous quality of the singing.

Scelsi Revisited Klangforum Wien/Emilio Pomŕrico, Sian Edwards, Johannes Kalitzke, Sylvain Cambreling rec. live, 2013-15 KAIROS 0015030KAI [66:37 + 79:17] [RHa] A superb homage to an underappreciated Italian master.

Lotte Schöne (soprano) The Complete Lotte Schöne rec. 1921-1950 MARSTON 55002-2 [5 CDs: 349:05] [SG] A voice of captivating charm, purity, extensive range and flexibility.

Grigory Sokolov (piano) Works by Beethoven, Brahms & Mozart rec. 2017-2019 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4836570 [CD: 47:52 + 79:03; DVD: 139 mins] [SG] Inspirational performances, created on the wing.

Song’s First Cycle Robin Tritschler (tenor) Malcolm Martineau (piano) rec. 2017 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD587 [82:31] [GF] Every lover of art song should invest in this issue to earn a deeper understanding of the development of art song.

Spem in alium ORA Singers/Suzi Digby rec. 2019 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902669.70 [CD: 70:24 + DVD: 35 mins] [JQ] Simply terrific.

The Spohr Collection Ashley Solomon (historical flutes) rec. 2019 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS43020 [69:45] [JV] Fascinating sounding documentation of some outstanding historical instruments and the art of their makers.

String Quartets Works by Morawski, Stojowski, Tarnowski & Wagner - Tono Qt, Four Strings Qt rec. 2014/19 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0459 [64.59] [MW] Unfamiliar and deeply rewarding music, wonderfully performed.

Those Blue Remembered Hills Works by Gurney & Howells - Roderick Williams (baritone) Michael Dussek (piano) Bridge Qt rec. 2018 EM RECORDS EMRCD065 [80:52] [JQ] All lovers of Ivor Gurney’s music should consider this disc an obligatory purchase.

Arturo Toscanini (conductor) Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York: Complete Recordings - Vol. 1 rec. 1929-36 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC575 [3 CDs: 213:15] [DD] Some of the greatest orchestral recordings ever, magnificently restored.

A Tudor Christmas Trinity Boys Ch EIGHT/Katharine Fuge, David Swinson, L'Armonia Sonora/Mieneke van der Velden Siebe Henstra (organ) rec. 2018 RONDEAU ROP8002 [57:32] [JV] Definitely one of my favourite Christmas discs for the years to come.

Amy Yang (piano) Resonance rec. 2017 MSR CLASSICS MS1655 [76:14] [DD] Simply magnificent and wonderful playing from start to finish - more please … and soon.



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Recordings of the Month

November


Symphonies 1, 2, 3

 

October


Aho Symphony 5


Dowland - A Fancy


MÄNTYJÄRVI - Choral


Rachmaninov_ Babayan

September


Opera transcriptions & fantasias


TAKEMITSU MESSIAEN


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


Schubert Symphony 9