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Recommended Recordings 2021

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

John Luther ADAMS (b. 1953) The Farthest Place, The Light That Fills the World, The Immeasurable Space of Tones rec. 2002 COLD BLUE MUSIC CB 0010 [50:57] [DMD] A simple but deep sense of wonder.

John Luther ADAMS (b. 1953) The Become Trilogy - Seattle SO & Ch/Ludovic Morlot rec. 2013-18 CANTALOUPE CA21161 [3 CDs: 97:32] [SB] Adams’s breakthrough work together with its two companions make an impressive trilogy.

Charles-Valentin ALKAN (1813-1888) Complete Piano Music Vol. 3: Grande Sonate, Op 33; Souvenirs – Trois Morceaux dans le genre pathétique, Op 15 - Mark Viner (piano) rec. 2018/19 PIANO CLASSICS PCL10209 [68:22] [DM] A superb addition to what’s fast becoming an indispensable series; Alkanites and pianophiles, rejoice!

Charles-Valentin ALKAN (1813-1888) Complete Piano Music Vol. 4 - Paraphrases, Marches and Symphonie for Solo Piano - Mark Viner (piano) rec. 2018/19 PIANO CLASSICS PCL10207 [71:00] [DM] Astounding music, superbly played and recorded; a mandatory purchase for Alkanites and pianophiles alike.

Claudio AMBROSINI (b. 1948) Chamber Music - Sonia Visentin (soprano) Ex Novo Ens rec 1988-1999 KAIROS 0015084KAI [65:51] A remarkable juxtaposition of the lush and the spartan.

Luigi ARCHETTI (b. 1955) Lava rec. 2021 KARLUK 001 CD 2021 [2 CDs: 89:00] [DMD] One of the best records I have heard this year.

Thomas ARNE (1710–1778) Artaxerxes - Christopher Ainslie, The Mozartists/Ian Page rec. 2009/10 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD672 [68:06 + 69:38] [GF] A wholly recommendable recording of a milestone work in the history of English opera.

Matthew AUCOIN (b. 1990) Orphic Moments - Conor Hanick (piano) Boston Modern Opera Project/Gil Rose rec. 2019-2021 BMOP/SOUND 1084 [111:21] [DMD] A thrilling introduction to a very impressive young American composer.

Arno BABADJANIAN (1921-1983) Gayané CHEBOTARYAN (1918-1998) & Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Piano trios - Trio de L’Île rec. 2020 DIVINE ART DDA25211 [54:53] [DJB] Absolutely outstanding – previous favourites are swept aside.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685–1750) Cantatas Nos. 82, 32 and 106 - Dunedin Consort/John Butt rec. 2020 LINN CKD672 [66:24] [BW] Among my top two or three recommendations for each of these three cantatas.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Complete Organ Works - David Goode (organ) rec. 2015-2016 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD640 [16 CDs: 1060 mins] [SG] Bach has been exceptionally well served through this release.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Clavier - Piotr Anderszewski (piano) rec. 2019/20 WARNER CLASSICS 9029511875 [78:08] [MC] Playing of this elevated quality does not come along too often.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II (excerpts) - Piotr Anderszewski (piano) rec. 2019, 2020 WARNER CLASSICS 9029511875 [77:53] [DMD] An unqualified success.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Well-Tempered Clavier Book 2 - Borbála Dobozy (harpsichord) rec. 2018 BMC CD 293 [2 CDs: 74:42 + 76:51] [DC] Up with the best for Bach’s WTC Book 2 on harpsichord.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations - Samuele Telari (accordion) rec. 2020 DELPHIAN DCD34257 [45.20 + 47.35] [PCG] A surprising and most rewarding slant on Bach’s keyboard writing. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cello Suites - David Watkin (cello) rec. 2013 RESONUS RES10146 [68:19 + 76:42] [RMo] This recording presents period practice at its best.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Six Partitas - Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68311/2 [74:01 + 74:42] [SG] A combination of interpretive flair, expressive freedom and meticulous scholarship.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Consort I - Phantasm rec. 2019 LINN RECORDS CKD618 [66:55] [DMD] Revelatory performances uncover yet more treasures in Bach’s inexhaustible music.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Consort II - Selections from the Well-Tempered Clavier Books 1 & 2 - Phantasm rec. 2020 LINN CKD657 [70:05] [DMD] Phantasm continue to dig deep into Bach’s music with stellar results.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Consort II - Phantasm rec. 2020 LINN CKD657 [70:05] [PBr] Superlative chamber transcriptions, outstandingly well recorded - this second volume is an even greater triumph than the first.

Eduardas BALSYS (1919-1984) Violin Concerto No 1, Reflections of the Sea, Dramatic Frescoes - Džeraldas Bidva (violin) Indrė Baikštytė (piano) Lithuanian Ntl SO/Modestas Pitrėnas rec. 2020 ONDINE ODE1358-2 [66:15] [JW] Triumphant explorations of a major Lithuanian composer.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Bluebeard’s Castle - Mika Kares (bass) Szilvia Vörös (mezzo) Géza Szilvay (narrator) Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Susanna Mälkki rec. 2020 BIS BIS-2388 SACD [59:54] [IJ] No matter how many alternatives you have, Susanna Mälkki’s performance brings special qualities in abundance and is not to be missed.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Concerto for Orchestra, Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta - Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Susanna Mälkki rec. 2018/19 BIS BIS-2378 SACD [69:09] [HC] Superb performances of Bartók’s two substantial works.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Piano Concertos - Krystian Zimerman (piano) London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2020 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4839971 [3 CDs: 172:40] [SG] Zimerman revists these concertos in inspired and compelling readings.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete String Quartets - Lindsay String Quartet rec. 1979-83 ELOQUENCE 484 3069 [10 CDs: 555 mins] [DD] A superb traversal which should be owned by all lovers of this sublime music.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) String Quartets, Op 18 - Chiaroscuro Qt rec. 2019 BIS SACD BIS-2488 [76:46] [MG] Sensitively considered, wonderfully detailed and engagingly scintillant.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano sonatas Nos 7, 23 & 31 - Naum Grubert (piano) NAVIS CLASSICS NC20010 [69:55] [DC] Can stand comparison with anyone.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 7 & 8 - New York Philharmonic O/Bruno Walter rec. 1948/51 SONY G010004058262O [59:08] [BW] One of the best single downloads from the complete Sony set of Walter’s Columbia recordings.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Beethoven Reflections Symphony No 5, Piano Concerto No 3, An die ferne Geliebte (transcr. Franz Liszt & Charles-Valentin Alkan) - Leonardo Pierdomenico (piano) rec. 2020 PIANO CLASSICS PCL10224 [62.33] [RCh] Electrifying pianism in these marvellous transcriptions.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Harmonium & Piano arrangements - Liaison Extraordinaire rec. 2018 DISQUES VDE-GALLO CD-1621 [76:36] [DC] A delight from start to finish.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No.7; Prometheus ballet - Freiburger Barockorchester/Gottfried von der Goltz rec. 2020 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM 902446.47 [40:46 + 62:19] [BW] A first-rate Seventh and a persuasive account of the ‘Prometheus’ ballet.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No 3 Étienne Nicolas MÉHUL (1763-1817) Les Amazones Overture - Les Sičcles /François-Xavier Roth rec. 2020 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902421 [54:14] [JQ] An exceptional, dramatic and probing recording of the ‘Eroica’.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Concerto Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998) Violin Concerto No.3 - Vadim Gluzman (violin); Lucerne Symphony Orchestra/James Gaffigan rec. 2017-20 BIS BIS-2392 SACD [67:28] [DMD] A masterly programme with a truly inspired account of the Beethoven.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Sonatas Nos 1-4 - Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin) Martin Helmchen (piano) rec. 2019 BIS BIS-2517 SACD [73:12] [MG] Vibrant, engaging, approachable accounts delivered with exemplary clarity.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Sonatas Nos 5-7 - Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin) Martin Helmchen (piano) rec. 2020 BIS BIS-2527 SACD [68:32] [MG] Tremendous character and distinctiveness of each partner’s contribution.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas Vol. 3 - Wilhelm Kempff (piano) rec. 1951 PRISTINE AUDIO PAKM084 [2 CDs: 145:12] [PBW] One of the very greatest of Beethoven interpreters.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Variations - Angela Hewitt (piano) rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68346 [79:43] [MG] Hewitt brings fun, but also authority, character, colour and emotional impact.

Ed BENNETT (b. 1975) Psychedelia - RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra/David Brophy rec 2013-20 NMC D257 [78:13] [RHa] Yet more invigorating fare from Ireland; Bennett’s music oscillates seamlessly between the febrile and the subtle.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Requiem - Javier Camarena (tenor); Coro di Santa Cecilia; Concertgebouw O/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2019 RCO LIVE 9029668350 SACD [83:41] [DM] A musical and sonic milestone; in short, a Requiem to die for.

Georges BIZET (1838-1875) Carmen - Anna Caterina Antonacci (soprano) Andrew Richards (tenor) Monteverdi Choir, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2009 NAXOS NBD0127V Blu-ray [169 mins] [RC] Antonacci's performance, Gardiner's conducting and Adrian Noble's production make this a top video choice for Carmen.

Victoria BORISOVA-OLLAS (b 1969) Angelus - Royal Stockholm PO/Andrey Borekyo/Martyn Brabbins/Sakari Oramo rec. 2016-2019 BIS BIS-2288 SACD [82:08] [JQ] Victoria Borisova-Ollas is a very individual and significant voice.

Ina BOYLE (1889-1967) Songs - Paula Murrihy (mezzo) Robin Tritschler (tenor) Ben McAteer (baritone) Iain Burnside (piano) rec. 2020 DELPHIAN DCD34264 [77:23] [JQ] These excellent performances give a fine overview of a song composer of genuine worth.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833–1897) Piano Concertos 1 and 2 - Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/András Schiff (piano) rec. 2019 ECM NEW SERIES 4855770 [46:58 + 47:35] [BW] This now becomes my version of choice.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No 2, Academic Festival Overture - Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 2019 PENTATONE PTC5186851 [55:00] [JQ] One of the finest performances of Brahms’ Second symphony that I can recall hearing in years.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 - Australian Chamber Orchestra/Richard Tognetti rec. 2013-2015 ABC 4819890 [79:00] [DMD] More than a match for the very best - magnificent.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No 4 James MACMILLAN (b. 1959) Larghetto - Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Manfred Honeck rec. 2017/18 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-744 SACD [54:00] [RC] The excellence of the Brahms Fourth and the high artistic quality of the new MacMillan work make this disc a standout.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) The Last Piano Pieces - Victor Rosenbaum (piano) rec. 2017/18 BRIDGE 9545 [65:17] [GPu] Profound readings from a mature pianist whose maturity of mind and heart is evident throughout.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) 7 Fantasies, 2 Rhapsodies Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Kreisleriana - Elena Fischer-Dieskau (piano) rec. 2020 DELPHIAN RECORDS DCD34255 [74:20] [RCh] Captivating pianism in all respects.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Sonata for two pianos - Eric Le Sage, Théo Fouchenneret (pianos) rec. 2021 B RECORDS LBM032 [56:39] [DMD] Distinctive pianos, even more distinctive performances.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Quartets Nos 1-3 - Eric Le Sage (piano) Pierre Fouchenneret (violin) Lisa Berthaud (viola) François Salque (cello) rec. 2017 B RECORDS LBM011 [67:41+46:48] [DMD] Passion and deep insight get this Brahms project off to a thrilling start

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Sextets, String Quintets - Pierre Fouchenneret (violin) Shuichi Okada (violin) Lise Berthaud (viola) Adrien Boisseau (viola) François Salque (cello) Yan Levionnois (cello) rec. 2018 B RECORDS LBM012 [59:03 + 54:06] [DMD] Performances that really get under the skin of these works.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Clarinet Sonatas, Five Lieder - Ron Selka (clarinet) Aviram Reichert (piano) rec. 2020 TYXART RECORDS TXA20152 [56:05] [DD] A sheer joy from start to finish - autumnal works in first class performances and beautifully recorded.

Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Complete Music for Piano - Peter Jacobs (piano) rec. 1990-1991 CONTINUUM CCD1016 [3CDs: 229:20] [SG] Well-crafted music in compelling performances.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Complete Folk Songs for voice and piano - Mark Milhofer (tenor) Marco Scolastra (piano) rec. 2019/20 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 96009 [67:52 + 57:29] [RWe] A superb collection bringing new dimensions to this repertoire.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) & Johann Michael HAYDN (1737-1806) Motets and other Choral Works - MDR Leipzig Radio Choir/Philipp Ahmann rec. 2020 PENTATONE PTC5186868 [61:52] [CSa] Come for the Bruckner, but stay for the Michael Haydn! This is an incredible release.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphonies Nos 2 & 8 - Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Andris Nelsons rec. 2019 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 9834 [68:47 + 81:59] [SG] Spacious accounts in striking sound.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No 3 (original version, 1873; ed. Nowak) - Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Thomas Dausgaard rec. 2019 BIS SACD BIS-2464 [56:03] [DSP] I will be returning to this recording many times in the future, and thoroughly enjoying it.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No 4 - Hiroshima SO/Tatsuya Shimono rec. 2020 BRAIN MUSIC OSBR 37010 [66:05] [RMo] This recording deserves serious consideration, even if there are plenty of others in the running.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Bruckner 4: The 3 Versions - Bamberger Symphoniker/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2020 ACCENTUS MUSIC ACC30533 [4 CDs: 274:09] [RMo] A fascinating survey tracing the evolution of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony through its three major versions.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No 6 - BBC Philharmonic/Juanjo Mena rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN20221 [59:50] [RMo] A masterly, thoroughly absorbing account of a symphony which no longer needs any apology.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No 7 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)Piano Concerto No 4 - Emanuel Ax (piano) Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Bernard Haitink rec. 2019 UNITEL EDITION Blu-ray 802304 [116:00] [ST] Bernard Haitink’s final concert in Salzburg: an essential document.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 7 - Wiener PO/Bernard Haitink rec. 2019 VIENNA PHILHARMONIC CD WPH-L-BH-2020 [71:30] Typical of the glorious Indian summer to Haitink’s career.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No 8 - Tonkünstler Symphony Orchestra/Yutaka Sado rec. 2019 TONKÜNSTLER TON2011 SACD [58:27 + 26:40] [RMo] The quality of this recording makes me hope that it will eventually form part of an entire cycle.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 9 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Triple Concerto - Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin) Yo-Yo Ma (cello) West-Eastern Divan O/Daniel Barenboim (piano) rec. 2019 UNITEL 803608 DVD [112 mins] [PCG] A video recording of a concert that really is something very special.

Linda BUCKLEY (b. 1979) From Ocean’s Floor - Linda Buckley (electronics) Crash Ensemble, ConTempo Quartet rec. 2016-19 NMC D258 [78:17] [RHa] 'Ó Íochtar mara' is the unforgettable standout in a survey of fascinating electroacoustic pieces.

Ferruccio BUSONI (1866–1924) The 6 Sonatinas - Victor Nicoara (piano) rec. 2019 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC20086 [70:37] [SB] An admirable set of some of Busoni’s most mysterious and haunting works.

William BYRD (c.1540-1623) & John BULL (c.1562-1628) Visionaries of the Piano - Kit Armstrong (piano) rec 2020 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 486 0583 [70:53 + 64:09] [DMD] A sumptuous banquet of keyboard extravagance.

William BYRD (c.1540-1623) & John BULL (c.1562-1628) Visionaries of the Piano - Kit Armstrong (piano) rec. 2020 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 486 0583 [70:53 + 64:09] [SG] Beautifully recorded, this superb album will certainly be one I’ll return to often.

Joseph CANTELOUBE (1879-1957) Chants d'Auvergne - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Tapiola Sinfonietta/Pascal Rophé rec. 2020 BIS BIS-2513 SACD [69:02] [JQ] Every track on this new recording is a treat.

Pietro Antonio CESTI (1623-1669) La Dori - Francesca Ascioti (alto) Francesca Lombardi Mazzulli (soprano) rec. 2019 NAXOS Blu-ray NBD0123V [164:00] [MP] A highly accomplished production of a Baroque treasure which should be at the top of one’s shopping list.

Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643-1704) Méditations pour le Caręme Sébastien DE BROSSARD (1655-1730) Salve Rex Christe, O plenus irarum dies - Ens Les Surprises/Louis-Noël Bestion de Camboulas rec. 2019 EDITIONS AMBRONAY AMY056 [59:49] [JV] We know about the qualities of Charpentier, but Brossard is the revelation here.

Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643-1704) Messe ŕ quatre chœurs - Ensemble Correspondances/Sébastien Daucé rec. 2019 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902640 [79:38] [JV] Historically intriguing, musically exciting.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Études Op 25, Scherzi - Beatrice Rana (piano) rec. 2020-2021 WARNER CLASSICS 9029676424 [75:47] [MC] Chopin performances as exceptional as these from Beatrice Rana do not come along too often. 

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Complete Nocturnes - Jan Lisiecki (piano) rec. 2020 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4860761 [70:38 + 53:21] [SG] Probing accounts of these captivating pieces.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Concerto No 2, Scherzi Nos 1-4 - Seong-Jin Cho (piano) London Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2021 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 486 0435 [78:57] [CCC] The performance of the concerto is admirable and rivals the best in spontaneous musicality and expressive vision.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Concerto No 2, Scherzi Nos 1-4 - Seong-Jin Cho (piano) London Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2021 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 486 0435 [68:30] [SG] Astonishing technical command coupled with refined artistic maturity.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Sonata No. 2, Rondo, Mazurkas, Nocturnes - Elia Cecino (piano) rec. 2020 ONCLASSICAL OC21024B [67:35] [SG] A natural Chopin player with a commanding style, offering consistently fine, idiomatic and rewarding performances.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) The Legendary 1965 Recording - Martha Argerich (piano) rec. 1965 WARNER CLASSICS 9029669767 [52:13] [MC] Among the wealth of Argerich’s rewarding albums, this is undoubtedly one of her finest.

Francisco COLL (b. 1985) Violin Concerto, Mural, Iberian Miniatures, Aqua Cinerea - Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin) Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg/Gustavo Gimeno rec. 2019/20 PENTATONE SACD PTC5186951 [80:57] [LW] An ideal introduction to Francisco Coll’s formidable orchestral music.

Marius CONSTANT (1927-2004) Turner, Brevissima, 103 Regards dans l’eau - Olivier Charlier (violin) Riverside Symphony/George Rothman rec. 2001/2006 RIVERSIDE SYMPHONY RECORDS RS1401 [53:34] [DC] Superb performances and recording of some rare repertoire.

Armand-Louis COUPERIN (1727-1789) Pičces de clavecin - Christophe Rousset (harpsichord) rec. 2017 APARTÉ AP236 [49:41+51:06] [SSi] A wonderfiul showcase for Armand-Louis Couperin’s music.

Edward COWIE (b. 1943) Clarinet Concerto No. 2, Concerto for Orchestra - Alan Hacker (clarinet) Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Howard Williams rec. 1983/84 MÉTIER MSV92108 [44:38] [RHa] A welcome return for this majestic coupling – superb performances of Cowie’s unique, topographically inspired music.

George CRUMB (b. 1929) Metamorphoses Books I & II - Marcantonio Barone (piano) rec. 2019/21 BRIDGE 9551 [37:28 + 38:25] [GPu] A compelling performance of a major new work.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Pelléas et Mélisande - Stanislas De Barbeyrac (tenor) Chiara Skerath (soprano) Ch & O Ntl  Bordeaux Aquitaine/Pierre Dumoussaud rec. 2020 ALPHA CLASSICS 752 [71:31 + 77:09] [MP] Dumoussaud triumphs in a lucid performance captured with a clarity of sound that unveils Debussy’s score as never before.

Gustavo DÍAZ-JEREZ (b.1970) Metaludios Books 4 & 5 - Gustavo Diaz-Jerez (piano) rec. 2020 IBS CLASSICAL IBS172021 [70:00] [DMD] More ear tickling delights from the Canary Islands

Ernő DOHNANYI (1877-1960) Serenade Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Septet - Kreisler Trio Wien, Andreas Wieser (clarinet) Michael Zottl (bassoon) Wolfgang Vladar (horn) Josef Niederhammer (double bass) rec. 2021 PALADINO MUSIC PMR0117 [61:25] [MR] Outstanding playing from all concerned.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Le Convenienze ed Inconvenienze Teatrali - Patrizia Ciofi (soprano) Charles Rice (baritone) Chorus & Orchestra of the Opéra de Lyon/Lorenzo Viotti rec. 2017 OPUS ARTE Blu-ray OABD7289D [114:00] [MP] Utterly delightful and not to be missed.

Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986) Complete Organ Works - Thomas Trotter (organ) rec. 2020 KING’S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE KGS0053 [73:25] [JQ] Maurice Duruflé’s organ music has been exceptionally well served on this CD.

Jan Ladislav DUSSEK (1760-1812) Messe Solemnelle - Choir of the AAM, Academy of Ancient Music/Richard Egarr rec. 2019 AAM RECORDS AAM011 [60:14] [SSi] A superb release which should win Dussek some new converts.

Jan Ladislav DUSSEK (1760-1812) Piano Sonatas Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Nocturne, Ballade - Michael Dussek (piano) rec. 2020 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0634 [64:12] [DD] A labour of love by a totally committed musician with a strong affinity to Chopin and Dussek.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Cello Concerto; Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Cello Concerto No 1 - Victor Julien-Laferričre (cello) Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Ličge/Gergely Madaras
ALPHA 731 [66:37] [DMD] A Dvořák that goes to the top of the pile paired with moving Martinů

Michael EAST (c. 1580-1648) Amavi: Music for Viols & Voices - Fieri Consort, Chelys Consort of Viols rec. 2018 BIS BIS2503 SACD [71:14] [GH] One for the most pleasing discs to have come my way for some months.

John ECCLES (1668-1735) Semele - Anna Dennis (soprano) Richard Burkhard (baritone) Academy of Ancient Music, Cambridge Handel Opera/Julian Perkins rec. 2019 AAM RECORDS AAM012 [72:07 + 49:20] [JW] Outstandingly well sung and performed English-language opera.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Partsongs from the Bavarian Highlands - Ch Bayerischen Rundfunks/Howard Arman, Max Hanft (piano) Radoslav Szulc, Julita Smoleń (violins) rec. 2019-2020 BR KLASSIK 900522 [65:37] [NB] Technically polished and musically sensitive performances of beautiful music.

Philipp Heinrich ERLEBACH (1657-1714) Lieder - Le Banquet Céleste/Damien Guillon rec. 2020 ALPHA 725 [71:04] [JV] This disc is a treasure, because of the music and the performances.

Giovanni Battista FONTANA (1589-1630) & Angelo NOTARI (1566-1663) Early baroque music from the Basilica Palatina Mantova - Julia Fritz (recorder) Johannes Hämmerle (organ) Magdalena Harer (soprano) Reinhild Waldek (harp) rec. 2020 AUDITE 97.797 [71:43] [JV] This disc is as exciting as I was hoping it would be.

César FRANCK (1822-1890) Trois Pičces; Trois Chorals - Pétur Sakari (organ) rec. 2020 BIS BIS-2349 SACD [80:37] [DM]  Deeply impressive performances, rendered in top-flight sound; organ recordings don’t come much better than this.

Zoltán GÁRDONYI (1906-1986) & Zsolt GÁRDONYI (b.1946) Choral works - Cantabile Regensburg/Matthias Beckert rec. 2016 BECORD [66:04] [MR] Unfailingly beautiful and delightful music from a Hungarian father-and-son composing duo, sumptuously sung by Cantabile Regensburg.

George GERSHWIN (1898–1937) Piano Concerto Joan TOWER (b. 1938) Sequoia Walter PISTON (1894–1976) Symphony No. 5 - Kevin Cole (piano) Ntl Orchestral Institute PO/David Alan Miller rec. 2019 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559875 [75:31] [LW] A treasurable addition to the Naxos American Classics series.

Bára GÍSLADÓTTIR (b. 1989) & Skúli SVERRISSON (b. 1966) Caeli - Bára Gísladóttir (double-bass) Skúli Sverrisson (electric bass) SONO LUMINUS SLE 70020 [70:04 + 59:48] [RHa] An experience of profundity, wonder and indescribable beauty.

Johann GRAF (1688-1750) Sonatas for violin and basso continuo - Anne Schumann (violin) Klaus Voigt (viola da spalla) Sebastian Knebel (harpsichord) rec. 2020 GENUIN GEN21738 [67:40] [JV] It is a mystery why these sonatas have been so neglected.

Francisco GUERRERO (1526-1599) Magnificat, Lamentations & Canciones - El Leon de Oro/Peter Philips, Marco Antonio García de Paz rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68347 [60:53] [GH] A fine Spanish choir conducted by a famed English renaissance specialist: it doesn’t get better than this.

Reynaldo HAHN (1874-1947) String Quartets, Piano Quintet, Romance - Quatuor Tchalik, Dania Tchalik (piano) rec. 2019 ALKONOST CLASSIC ALK006 [82:07] [SG] Best known for his songs and operettas, Hahn’s chamber music comprises some of his finest scores.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685–1759) Rodelinda, Regina de’ Longobardi - Lucy Crowe, Iestyn Davies; The English Concert/Harry Bicket rec. 2020 LINN CKD658 [69:40 + 66:46 + 65:34] [GF] Should satisfy every lover of baroque opera!

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Rodelinda - Lucy Crowe (soprano) Iestyn Davies (countertenor) The English Concert/Harry Bicket rec. 2020 LINN CKD658 [3 CDs: 202:00] [JW] A top recommendation for consistency of purpose and excellence of execution.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Piano Sonatas, Variations - Leon McCawley (piano) rec. 2016 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0162 [78.54] [RBe] Stylish and cultivated playing.

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Piano Sonatas Vol. 1 - Roman Rabinovich (piano) rec. 2016 FIRST HAND RECORDS FHR071 [58:11 + 42:23] [DMD] My first choice in these underrated masterpieces

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Piano Sonatas Vol.2 - Roman Rabinovich (piano) rec. 2019 FIRST HAND RECORDS FHR072 [57:12 + 65:34] [DMD] A triumphant addition to this ongoing series

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732–1809) Piano Sonatas Vol. 9 - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) rec. 2020 CHANDOS CHAN20131 [72:15] [MG] Playing of total assurance and breathtaking understanding of ornamentation.

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphonies 6-8 Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Serenata Notturna - Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini rec. 2019 ALPHA 686 [78:36] [SG] Stylish and elegant performances deserving of praise.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Mathis der Maler - Wolfgang Koch (baritone) Manuela Uhl (soprano) Slovak Philharmonic Choir, Wiener Symphoniker/Bertrand de Billy rec. 2012 NAXOS NBD0130V Blu-Ray [190 mins] [PCG] A performance and recording that finally convinces the listener that this really is an inspired masterpiece.

Clara IANNOTTA (b. 1983) MOULT - Wilhelm Latchoumia (piano) WDR SO Köl/Michael Wendeberg  rec 2018-2019 KAIROS 0018004KAI [58:32] [RHa] An outstanding disc of challenging new music.

Heinrich ISAAC (c.1450-1517) Missa Wohlauff gut Gsell von hinnen, Motets - Cinquecento rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68337 [78:03] [DC] A glorious illumination of sacred mysteries.

Charles IVES (1874-1954) Complete Symphonies - Los Angeles Master Chorale and Philharmonic O/Gustavo Dudamel rec. 2020 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 9505 [2 CDs: 124:00] [DM] Without doubt, the most important Ives release in years; world-class playing too, with a sound to match.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) From the House of the Dead, Sinfonietta - Radiodiffusion Télévision Française & Vienna Symphony Orchestras/Jascha Horenstein rec. 1953/55 PRISTINE CLASSICAL PACO173 [57:55 + 69:08] [MP] An excellent version of the old edition of Janáček’s great opera renovated in Pristine’s exemplary sound.

JOSQUIN Des Prez (c.1450-1521) Motets & Mass Movements - Brabant Ensemble/Stephen Rice rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68321 [78.38] [GH] One of the Brabant Ensemble’s most outstanding recordings.

JOSQUIN Des Prez (c.1450/55-1521) The Golden Renaissance Choral works - Stile Antico rec. 2020 DECCA 4851340 [82:48] [JQ] A very fine 500th anniversary tribute to Josquin.

Vítězslava KAPRÁLOVÁ (1915-1940) Military Sinfonietta, Suite en miniature, Piano Concerto - Nicholas Phan (tenor) Amy I-Lin Cheng (piano) University of Michigan SO/Kenneth Kiesler rec. 2015-2016 NAXOS 8.574144 [58:57] [SG] A unique voice rescued from obscurity.

Douglas KNEHANS (b. 1957) Unfinished Earth - Brno Philharmonic Orchestra/Mikel Toms ABLAZE RECORDS AR00036 [52:58] [WH] Brilliant performances of two challenging contemporary works.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Piano Trio, String Sextet - Spectrum Arts Berlin rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574008 [65:20] [NB] Prodigious music played with passionate intensity.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1887-1957) Die tote Stadt - René Kollo (tenor) Carol Neblett (soprano) Bavarian Radio Ch, Tölzer Boys Ch, Munich Radio O/Erich Leinsdorf rec. 1975 DUTTON EPOCH 2CDLX7376 SACD [69:51 + 67:34] [JQ] This first recording of Die tote Stadt was a major achievement and we can now experience it, thrillingly renewed, on these SACDs.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897–1957) Die tote Stadt - Jonas Kaufmann (tenor), Marlis Petersen (soprano), Bavarian State Opera Orchestra/Kirill Petrenko rec. 2019 BAYERISCHE STAATSOPER RECORDINGS BSOREC2001 Blu-ray [143 mins] [JQ] A compelling and all-round excellent account of Korngold’s operatic masterpiece.

Gunnar Andreas KRISTINSSON (b. 1976) Moonbow - Duo Harpverk, Siggi String Quartet, CAPUT Ensemble/Guđni Franzson rec. 2020 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92246 BD-A/CD [62:32] [RHa] Hardly a surprise that this reviewer was blown away by Kristinsson’s moreish, glacier-fresh music; or that it sounds amazing in surround.

Jean-Baptiste KRUMPHOLTZ (1747-1790) & Jan Ladislav DUSSEK (1760-1812) Works for harp - Barbara Plachá (harp) rec. 2019 ARCODIVA UP0216-2131 [62.51] [MW] Essential for any lover of the harp and its history – and an absolute delight for everyone.

Michel-Richard de LALANDE(1657-1726) Les fontaines de Versailles, Grande Pičce en G-Ré-Sol, Le Concert d’Esculape - Boston Early Music Festival Vocal & Chamber Ensembles/Paul O’Dette, Stephen Stubbs rec. 2019 CPO 555097-2 [72:55] [SB] A delightful entertainment by the French baroque master, in an exemplary performances and presentation.

Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919) Pagliacci Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945) Cavalleria Rusticana - Dutch National Opera, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra/Lorenzo Viotti rec. 2019 NAXOS Blu-ray NBD0117V [157 mins] [ST] The most dramatically powerful, completely convincing performance of either opera I’ve seen in a very long time.

Jonathan LESHNOFF (b 1973) Piano Concerto, Symphony No 3 - Joyce Yang (piano) Stephen Powell (baritone) Kansas City SO/Michael Stern rec. 2016-2019 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-739 SACD [60:21] [LD] Twenty-first century music that packs a significant emotional punch.

Peter LIEBERSON (1946-2011) The Six Realms, Songs of Love and Sorrow - Anssi Karttunen (cello) Gerald Finley (bass-baritone) Finnish RSO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2019 ONDINE ODE1356-2 [49:07] [JQ] A superb disc, pairing two important and impressive scores in well-nigh ideal performances and magnificent sound.

Liza LIM (b.1966) Singing in Tongues – Operas and Vocal Works 1993-2007 - Elision rec. 2003-08 HUDDERSFIELD CONTEMPORARY RECORDS HCR25CD [3CDs: 175:19] [DMD] By any estimation this is great music.

Magnus LINDBERG (b. 1958) Aura, Related Rocks, Marea - Emil Holmström, Joonas Ahonen (piano, keyboards) Jani Niinimäki, Jerry Piipponen (percussion) Finnish Radio SO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2019-2020 ONDINE ODE1384-2 [66:40] [SB] Impressive and exciting works from the Finnish master.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Piano Sonata and other works - Benjamin Grosvenor (piano) rec. 2020 DECCA 485 1450 [84:29] [IJ] The only match I could find for this exalted level of prowess and spontaneity is the early Horowitz recording from 1932.

Duarte LOBO (c.1565-1646) Masses, Responsories & Motets - Cupertinos/Luís Toscano rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68306 [70:47] [JV] This disc offers some fine specimens of Portuguese renaissance polyphony, superbly sung by Cupertinos.

Elisabeth LUTYENS (1906-1983) Piano Music Vol. 1 - Martin Jones (piano) rec. 2021 RESONUS RES10291 [67:00] [DMD] One of the neglected greats of British music gets the five-star treatment.

Witold MALISZEWSKI (1873–1939) Symphonic Works - Opole Philharmonic/Przemysław Neumann rec. 2018–2020 DUX 1716-18 [3 CDs: 197:32] [SG] Music that’s uplifting, lyrical, deftly crafted and colourfully scored.

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2 Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Sonata for solo violin - Franz Peter Zimmermann (violin) Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2018-2020 BIS BIS-2457 SACD [74:40] [RC] Splendid performances throughout.

David MATTHEWS (b. 1943) Symphony No. 8, Toward Sunrise, Sinfonia, A Vision of the Sea - BBC Philharmonic/Jac van Steen rec. 2017 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD647 [67:47] [JQ] This splendid disc is a notable addition to David Matthews’ discography.

Missy MAZZOLI (b. 1980) Proving Up - Michael Slattery (tenor) Talise Trevigne (soprano) International Contemporary Ens/Christopher Rountree rec. 2018 PENTATONE PTC5186754 [79:48] [RHa] An intelligent, compelling, contemporary yet approachable cautionary tale.

Vince MENDOZA (b. 1961) Freedom Over Everything - Czech National Symphony Orchestra/Vince Mendoza rec. 2019/20 MODERN RECORDINGS B0948RPQMB [64.20] [RP] A masterly musical commentary on these troubled times.

Federico MOMPOU (1893-1987) Música Callada, Cantar del Alma - Josep Colom (piano) Cecilia Lavilla Berganza (soprano) rec. April 2019 EUDORA EUD-SACD-2101 [69:50] [RHa] One of the most spiritually aware and technically detailed accounts of this masterpiece I have yet encountered in outstanding sound.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) La finta giardiniera - Krešimir Špicer (tenor) Julie Martin du Thiel (soprano) Orchestra del Teatro Alla Scala/Diego Fasolis rec. 2018 NAXOS Blu-ray NBD0129V [179 mins] [MP] A fine cast and splendid production values make for a most enjoyable romp through Mozart’s garden.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphonies Nos 25, 39 & 40 - Philharmonia Orchestra/Otto Klemperer rec. 1956 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC606 [74:32] [DRD] Three superb Mozart performances that belie their 65 years, and magnificently refurbished.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Concertos Nos 1-5, Adagio K261, Rondo K269, Rondo K373 - Baiba Skride (violin), Swedish Chamber Orchestra/Eivind Aadland rec. 2019 ORFEO C997201 [61:22 + 67:37] [MG] Baiba Skride is the finest soloist I’ve heard in these Mozart concertos.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos Nos. 9 and 17 - Olga Pashchenko (fortepiano) Il Gardellino rec. 2020 ALPHA 726 [63:12] [DMD] Elegance and exuberance in abundance.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos Nos 20 & 21 - András Schiff (piano) Camerata Academica des Mozarteums Salzburg/Sándor Végh rec. 1989 DECCA 430 510-2 [59:02] [DD] Two exceptional performances of a couple of Mozart’s finest piano concertos; lovely to hear again.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Ombra Compagna - Lisette Oropesa (soprano) Il Pomo d’Oro/Antonello Manacorda rec. 2020 PENTATONE PTC5186885 SACD [81:30] [SB] A superb collection of some of Mozart’s most brilliant and demanding arias.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Sonatas Vol. 3 - Peter Donohoe (piano) rec. 2018 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0613 [64:38] [MG] Donohoe is magnificently alert to the dramatic potential of these sonatas.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2 - Arabella Steinbacher (violin) Festival Strings Lucerne/Daniel Dodds rec. 2021 PENTATONE PTC5186952 [69:54] [MR] Unusually compelling and attractive performances of Mozart’s first two violin concertos are enhanced by a particularly sumptuous violin sound.

Nikolay MYASKOVSKY (1881-1950) Vocal Works Vol. 1, Violin Sonata - Tatiana Barsukova, Elizaveta Pakhomova (soprano) Marina Dichenko (violin) Olga Solovieva (piano) rec. 2007-20 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0355 [68:27] [GT] A very valuable release.

Vítĕzslav NOVÁK (1870-1949) Pan – Tobias Borsboom (piano) rec. 2020 PIANO CLASSICS PCL10219 [56:06] [EJW] An excellent CD in every way, providing great advocacy for this work and Novák in general.

Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880) Ritter Blaubart - Berlin Komische Oper Chorus & Orchestra/Karl-Fritz Voigtmann rec. 1973 ARTHAUS MUSIK Blu-ray 109437 [139:00] [MP] A magnificent new film restoration offers Feslenstein’s memorable staging that makes an impressive debut on Blu-ray.

Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880) Barbe-Bleue - Yann Beuron (tenor) Héloďse Mas (soprano) Chorus & Orchestra Opéra de Lyon/Michele Spotti rec. 2019 OPUS ARTE OABD7290D Blu-ray [181 mins] [DBi] A most enjoyable two hours of tuneful silliness.

Thomas Agerfeldt OLESEN (b. 1969) Der Wind bläset wo er will, Cello Concerto - Johannes Moser (cello) Danish Ntl SO/Otto Tausk rec. 2017-2019 DACAPO 8.226586 [48:48] [RHa] More superlative new music from Denmark - the songful restraint and stoicism of the cello concerto render it especially moving.

Kryzysztof PENDERECKI (1933-2020) Complete Music for String Quartet & String Trio - Tippett Quartet rec. 2020 NAXOS 8.574288 [52.58] [MW] Glorious performances of endlessly fascinating works.

Krzystof PENDERECKI (1933–2020) Complete Quartets - Silesian String Quartet, Piotr Szymyślik (clarinet) rec. 2012–21 CHANDOS CHAN20175 [54:25] [MW] Magnificent recordings of great works and a strong rival to the splendid Tippett Quartet.

Johann Georg PISENDEL (1687-1755) New Sonatas - Scaramuccia rec. 2020 SNAKEWOOD EDITIONS SCD202100 [59:13] [JV] These strongly gestural performances are outright exciting.

Enno POPPE (b. 1969) Filz, Stoff, Wald - Tabea Zimmermann (viola) Ens Resonanz/Enno Poppe rec. 2020 WERGO WER73992 [71:22] [RHa] Weird, humane, refreshing new music from Hamburg, which is strangely touching and utterly involving.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) The Fiery Angel - Ewa Vesin, Leigh Melrose - Rome Opera House Ch & O/Alejo Pérez rec. 2019 NAXOS Blu-ray NBD0113V [2:12:58] [RC] Clearly now my first choice.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphonies Nos 6 & 7 - Cleveland O/Vladimir Ashkenazy rec. 1993 DECCA 443 325-2 [67:47] [LW] Superb Prokofiev from Cleveland and Ashkenazy.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Cinderella (complete), Summer Night: Suite from The Duenna  - Russian National Orchestra/Mikhail Pletnev rec. 1994 Presto CD DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4762233 [2 CDs: 136:44] [RMo] Easily the best option for a recording of the complete ballet, in terms of both sound and performance.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Complete Piano Sonatas - Dinara Klinton (Piano) rec. 2019/20 PIANO CLASSICS PCL10191 [3 CDs: 170:18] [RC] In a crowded field of distinguished pianists, young Dinara Klinton comes out on top in Prokofiev's sonatas.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Complete Symphonies - Săo Paulo SO/Marin Alsop rec. 2011-2016 NAXOS 8.506038 [6 CDs: 380:27] [RC] Alsop's Prokofiev Symphony cycle is among the finest; the inclusion of many other orchestral works adds to the appeal.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphony No 1, Symphonic Dances - Philadelphia Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2018/19 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4839839 [80:52] [RMo] This easily merits admittance into the ranks of the top recommendations for both works.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphonies Nos 1-3, Symphonic Dances, The Rock, The Isle of the Dead - Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra/Alexander Sladkovsky rec. 2020 SONY CLASSICS 19439864962-4 [220:22] [GT] Sladkovsky’s superb Rachmaninov symphonic collection is a top recommendation.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphony No 2 - Deutsches SO Berlin/Robin Ticciati rec. 2020 LINN CKD653 [63:15] [JQ] Robin Ticciati’s recording now deserves to rank with the leaders in the field.

Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943) Piano Sonata No 2, Preludes - Emre Yavuz (piano) rec. 2019 TYXART TXA20147 [69:50] [NB] Risk-taking and revelatory – a stunning debut recital.

Sunleif RASMUSSEN (b. 1961) Territorial Songs – Michala Petri (recorder), Ejsberg Ensemble, Aalborg SO/Henrik Vagn Christensen, Danish Nat Vocal Ens/Stephen Layton, Lapland Ch.O/Clemens Schuldt rec. 2011-20 OUR RECORDINGS 6.220674 SACD [72:31] [HC] This generously filled release confirms the importance of Rasmussen's unmistakable musical voice.

Sunleif RASMUSSEN (b. 1961) Territorial Songs - Michala Petri (recorder) rec. 2011-2020 OUR RECORDINGS 6.220674 SACD [72:31] [RHa] A magically varied koldt bord of recorder-based works from the Faroe Islands’ top composer.

Jacobus REGNART (c.1540-1599) Missa Christ ist erstanden and other works - Cinquecento rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68369 [64:45] [BW] Lovers of the music of this period need not hesitate.

Antoine REICHA (1770-1836) Rediscovered Vol. 3 - Ivan Ilić (piano) rec. 2020 CHANDOS CHAN20194 [86:50] [DC] A crowning achievement in this edition, whatever comes next.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Il Turco in Italia - Maria Callas (soprano) Nicolai Gedda (tenor) La Scala Chorus & Orchestra/Gianandrea Gavazzeni rec. 1954 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO175 [77.15 + 35.42] [MP] Pristine’s stunning remastering is now the first choice to own this classic recording.

Nino ROTA (1911-1979) Chamber Music - Emmanuel Pahud (flute), Paul Meyer (clarinet), Éric Le Sage (piano) rec. 2020 ALPHA 746 [62.25] [MW] An extraordinary recording of remarkable musica recording of the year.

Jakub Jan RYBA (1765-1815) Cello Concerto, Horn Concerto, Cassatia - Eduard Šístek (cello) Radek Baborák (horn) L’Armonia Terrena/Zdeněk Klauda rec. 2020 NIBIRU 01692231 [65:50] [SSi] Sparkling performances.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Symphony No 3 ‘Organ’ Francis POULENC Organ Concerto Samuel BARBER Toccata Festiva - Olivier Latry (organ); Philadelphia Orchestra/Christoph Eschenbach rec. 2006 ONDINE ODE 1094-5 SACD [78:53] [DM] Unassailable performances, superbly recorded; a must for your desert island.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Chamber Music with Winds - Les Soloists de l'Orchestre de Paris, Laurent Wagschal, Pascal Gallet (piano) INDÉSENS INDE149 [63:35 + 58:04] [GPJ] Outstanding in every way; delightful music, stunning playing, excellent recording.

Antonio SALIERI (1750-1826) Armida - Lenneke Ruiten (soprano) Ashley Riches (baritone) Chœur de Chambre de Namur, Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset rec. 2020 APARTÉ AP244 [53:42 + 71:52] [DC] Excellent in every regard.

Rebecca SAUNDERS (b. 1967) Still, Aether, Alba -Carolin Widmann (violin) Marco Blaauw (trumpet) Carl Rosman, Richard Haynes (bass clarinets) SO Bayerischen Rundfunks/Ilan Volkov, Peter Eövös rec. 2015-2018 BR KLASSIK 900635 [66:50] [GH] This may be the future of classical music.

Alessandro, Francesco & Domenico SCARLATTI (1660-1725) Sonate a quattro - Les Récréations rec. 2020 RICERCAR RIC422 [59:37] [JV] Superb performances - not to be missed.

Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998) Choir Concerto, Three Sacred Hymns Arvo PÄRT (b 1935) Seven Magnificat-Antiphons - Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir/Kaspars Putniņš rec. 2020 BIS BIS-2521 SACD [60:22] [JQ] An outstanding disc and an amazing demonstration of choral singing.

Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998) Concerto for Piano & Strings Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphony No. 2 - Yefim Bronfman (piano) Cleveland O/Franz Welser-Möst rec. 2020 CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA TCO0003 SACD [54:13] [MJ] A commandingly important release.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) 12 Great Piano Sonatas - Daniel-Ben Pienaar (piano) rec. 2015 AVIE RECORDS AV2425 [5 CDs: 354:11] [DC] A remarkable set, to be ignored at your peril.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) The Symphonies - Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Nikolaus Harnoncourt rec. 1988 ICA CLASSICS ICAC5160 [4 CDs: 252:12] [SG] A surfeit of delights.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphony No 4 Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony No 8 - Wiener Philharmoniker/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1985/87 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 431 095-2 [67:32] [RMo] A deservedly celebrated classic.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Mazurkas, Počmes & Impromptus - Dmitri Alexeev (piano) rec. 2019 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95931 [3 CDs: 230:08] [MC] Alexeev brings his captivating series of Scriabin piano works to a trimphant conclusion.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2; Piano Trio No 2 - Simon Trpčeski (piano) Andrei Kavalinski (trumpet); Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava/Cristian Macelaru; Aleksandar Krapovski (violin), Alexander Somov (cello) LINN CKD659 [69:38] [DMD] A real winner with a very special account of the Second piano trio.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Concertos, Piano Trio No. 2 - Simon Trpčeski (piano) Aleksandar Krapovski (violin) Alexander Somov (cello) Janáček PO/Cristian Macelaru rec. 2020 LINN RECORDS CKD659 [69:38] [DD] A wonderful set of three near-perfect performances of seminal 20th century works.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906–1975) Chamber Symphonies - Chambre Lausanne/Joshua Weilerstein rec. 2019 FUGA LIBERA FUG769 [72:32] [GPJ] Brilliant arrangements of two great Shostakovich quartets in stylish and deeply felt performances.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphonies Nos 9 & 10 - London Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2018/20 LSO LIVE LSO0828 SACD [79:05] [GPJ] Simply stunning - Noseda is a superb Shostakovich conductor, and the music is delivered thrillingly by orchestra and recording.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) 24 Preludes and Fugues Ronald STEVENSON (1928-2015) Passacaglia on DSCH - Igor Levit (piano) rec. 2020 SONY 19439809212 [3 CDs: 232:41] [DMD] A landmark recording of both these mighty works.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphonies Nos 1, 14 & 15, Chamber Symphony Op 110a - Kristine Opolais (soprano) Alexander Tsymbalyuk (bass) Boston Symphony Orchestra/Andris Nelsons rec. 2018-20 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 486 0546 [83:15+74:07] [JQ] A highly distinguished set, containing four compelling and superbly played performances.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Karajan Sibelius - Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon - Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1964-1984 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4860651 CD/BD-A [5 CDs: 271:12 & BD-A: 196:47] [CSa] Quite outstanding state-of-the-art remastering.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Violin Concerto, Humoresques Nors S. JOSEPHSON (b. 1942) Celestial Voyage - Fenella Humphreys (violin) BBC Ntl O of Wales/George Vass rec. 2020 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10277 [63:16] [SG] A concerto recording bathed in Nordic chill and majestic landscapes.

Robert SIMPSON (1921-1997) Symphonies 5 & 6 - London Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Davis, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Charles Groves rec. 1973-80 LYRITA SRCD389 [72:05] [DMD] World premiere recordings and an essential release for anyone interested in Simpson.

Robert SIMPSON (1921-1997) Symphonies Nos 5 & 6 - London Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Davis, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Charles Groves rec. 1973-80 LYRITA SRCD389 [72:05] [NB] One of the most revelatory archive/historical discs of the year.

Robert SIMPSON (1921-1997) Symphonies Nos 5 & 6 - London Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Davis, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Charles Groves rec. 1973-80 LYRITA SRCD389 [72:05] [RHa] Unmissable: the first concrete souvenir of 2021’s most important centenary.

Kaikhosru SORABJI (1892-1988) Transcendental Studies Nos 84-100 - Fredrik Ullén (piano) rec. 2018/19 BIS BIS-2433 [45:23 + 72:35] [RHa] Ullén is riveting in this unmissable conclusion to a pioneering sequence of discs.

Johannes Matthias SPERGER (1750-1812) Double Bass Concertos Nos 1 & 8, Sinfonia No 15 - Roman Patkoló (double bass) Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim/Douglas Bostock rec. 2020 CPO 555 404-2 [60:18] [DC] Brilliant all-round.

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Love's White Flame, Songs Vol. 1 - Elisabetta Paglia (mezzo) Christopher Howell (piano) rec. 2018 DA VINCI CLASSICS C00304 [65:50] [JF] A remarkable disc.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Complete Tone Poems - SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2012-15 SWR CLASSIC SWR19426CD [5 CDs: 357:16] [GPJ] Brilliant and often inspired performances of these great works, in outstanding modern recordings.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Rite of Spring, Petrushka, The Firebird - Les Sičcles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2010-2013 HARMONIA MUNDI HMX2905342.43 [68:44 + 59:57] [BW] High on my list of recommendations, with the added appeal of getting back as close as possible to the original performances.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882–1971) The Soldier’s Tale, Duo Concertant, Élégie - Isabelle Faust (violin), Alexander Melnikov (piano) and ensemble rec. 2019-2020 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM992671 [76:57] [DMD] A beguiling period instrument version brings Stravinsky vividly to life.

Matthew TAYLOR (b. 1964) Symphonies Nos 4 & 5, Romanza - BBC Ntl O Wales, English SO/Kenneth Woods rec. 2019-2020 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6406 [63:56] [RHa] Two formidable additions to Taylor’s ongoing and increasingly impressive symphonic cycle.

Anna THORVALDSDOTTIR (b. 1977) Rhízōma - Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Bjarnason rec. 2016 SONO LUMINUS SLE-70018 [57:44] [RHa] An irresistible blend of Thorvaldsdottir’s remarkable composition, superb performances, and outstanding sound.

Antonio VALENTE (c1520-c1580) Intavolatura de Cimbalo, Napoli 1576 - Paola Erdas (virginal, harpsichord) rec. 2019 HITASURA HSP005 [67:52] [JV] Paola Erdas's playing is a joy to listen to.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphonies Nos 4 & 6 - London SO/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2019-2020 LSO LIVE LSO0867 SACD [68:06] [JQ] This terrific disc is an impressive harbinger of the future LSO/Pappano partnership.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphony No. 5, Pilgrim’s Progress (Scenes) - BBC Singers Qt, BBC SO & Ch/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2018-2019 HYPERION CDA68325 [66:59] [MW] Probably the best recent version of the Symphony, and a lovely first recording.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Songs of Travel, Job – Neal Davies (bass-baritone), Hallé/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2019 HALLÉ CDHLL7556 [70:16] [JQ] This recording of Job is a singular achievement and a pinnacle in Elder’s Vaughan Williams cycle.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Aida - Maria Callas (soprano) Richard Tucker (tenor) Tito Gobbi (baritone)  Ch & O Teatro alla Scala, Milan/Tullio Serafin rec. 1955 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO178 [79:54 + 64:46] [RMo] Pristine does it again with a splendid remastering of a classic recording whose flaws are as nothing compared with its virtues.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem - Jessye Norman (soprano) Agnes Baltsa (mezzo) José Carreras (tenor) Yevgeny Nesterenko (bass) Ch & SO Bayerischen Rundfunks/Riccardo Muti rec. 1981 BR KLASSIK 900199 [46:25 + 37:36] [RMo] Perhaps the finest available live performance of the Verdi Requiem.

Louis VIERNE (1870-1937) Complete Organ Symphonies - Roger Sayer (organ) rec. 2020 FUGUE STATE FILMS FSFDVD014 DVD/CD [DVD: 210:35 & 2 CDs: 210:35] [SG] Richly rewarding interpretations.

Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959) Complete Violin Sonatas - Emmanuele Baldini (violin) Pablo Rossi (piano) rec. 2020 NAXOS 8.574310 [53:50] [GPu] This enjoyable disc deserves a place in any collection of Villa-Lobos’s music.

Pancho VLADIGEROV (1899-1978) Impressions, Suite Bulgare, Prélude - Etsuko Hirose (piano) rec. 2021 MIRARE MIR600 [78:33] [PRB] Fantastic pianism – fabulous programme.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde - Ramon Vinay (tenor) Martha Mödl (soprano) Hans Hotter (bass) Bayreuth Festival Chorus & Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1952 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO185 [3 CDs: 228:33] [RMo] A phenomenally successful remastering of a classic performance makes this the only option for the Wagnerian devotee.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Chamber Symphonies Nos 2 & 4 - East-West Chamber O/Rotislav Krimer rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574210 [58.06] [MW] Wonderful music, wonderfully realised.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) String Quartets Vol 1 - Arcadia Qt rec. 2020 CHANDOS CHAN20158 [68:24] [SSi] If you do not know Weinberg’s music, this recording is the perfect place to start.

Eugčne YSAŸE (1858-1931) Solo Violin Sonatas - Maxim Brilinsky (violin) rec. 2018/19 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC20087 [69:40] [MC] I would not exchange Maxim Brilinsky’s exceptional accounts for any alternative recording.

Antonio ZACARA DA TERAMO (c.1360-1416) Enigma Fortuna The Complete Works - La Fonte Musica/Michel Pasotti rec. 2017/18 ALPHA 640 [4 CDs: 237:53] [GH] The composer is an amazing discovery, and the wonderful performances let us fully appreciate his musical world.

Tobias ZEUTSCHNER (1621-1675) Weihnachtshistorie, Magnificat - Weser-Renaissance Bremen/Manfred Cordes rec. 2020 CPO 555 368-2 [71:39] [JV] A most intriguing and musically compelling recording.

'1942' Violin sonatas by Copland, Poulenc & Prokofiev - Benjamin Baker (violin) Daniel Lebhardt (piano) rec. 2020 DELPHIAN DCD34247 [64:27] [MR] Three radically different violin sonatas begun in the same year receive really outstanding performances.

Album Für Die Frau Lieder by Robert and Clara Schumann - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2473 SACD [71.46] [MW] Glorious music-making makes this a must for any lovers of the musical world of the Schumanns.

American Quintets Works by Beach, Barber & Price - Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective rec. 2020 CHANDOS CHAN20224 [63:58] [SG] A delight from beginning to end.

American Quintets Works by Beach, Barber & Price - Matthew Rose (bass) Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective rec. 2020 CHANDOS CHAN20224 [63:58] [SSi] A marvellous disc - Florence Price’s quintet is worth the price alone.

Andare Trio Works for oboe, bassoon & piano by Head, Hope, Baldwin & Previn rec. 2019 DUX 1719 [52:19] [GPJ] Delightful music, played with wit and style by this outstanding trio.

Birdsong Songs by Brahms, Beamish, and Robert & Clara Schumann - Roderick Williams (baritone) Andrew West (piano) rec. 2020 SOMM RECORDNGS SOMMCD0633 [59:21] [JQ] A disc that should provide stimulating listening for all lovers of art song.

Jussi Björling (tenor) A Tribute rec. 1937-1959 IMMORTAL PERFORMANCES IPCD1135-6 [6 CDs: 450:29] [GF] A goldmine of mostly very rare recordings which add considerably to our knowledge about one of the greatest tenors of the previous century.

Bliss of Heaven Music of the New World - Daniel Rojas (piano) Stephen Cuttriss (bandoneon) Baldini Quartet DA VINCI CLASSICS C00379 [57:05] [DJB] Exceptional performances of very stylish and intelligent arrangements and original compositions – more please.

Brabant 1653 Holland Baroque rec. 2020 PENTATONE PTC5186895 SACD [64:28] [JV] The performances by Holland Baroque could hardly be better.

Alfred Brendel (piano) Early Recordings Vol. 3  Music by Beethoven, Liszt and Mozart - Alfred Brendel (piano); VPM/Zubin Mehta; VSOO/Paul Angerer rec. 1966-1961 BEULAH 3PS86 [69:06] [GM]
These recordings come highly recommended.

Cabinet of Wonders Vol. 1 Works by Vilsmayr, Visconti & Schreivogel - Kinga Ujszászi (violin) Tom Foster (harpsichord) rec. 2020 FIRST HAND RECORDS FHR89 [56:52] [JV] This disc deserves to be part of every collection of baroque violin music.

Camino Works by Mompou and others - Sean Shibe (guitar) rec. 2020 PENTATONE PTC5186870 [56.20] [DMD] Magical Mompou in a beautifully conceived programme.

Cavalieri Imperiali InAlto/Lambert Colson rec. 2019 RICERCAR RIC419 [65:49] [JV] Exciting performances of music that cannot fail to captivate an audience.

Chčre Nuit French Songs - Louise Alder (soprano) Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2020 CHANDOS CHAN20222 [80:10] [RCh] An enchanting recital of gems from the rich catalogue of French mélodie.

La clarinette parisienne Michael Collins (clarinet) Noriko Ogawa (piano) rec. 2019 BIS BIS-2497 SACD [61:56] [MR] This is a truly lovely disc, beautifully played by one of the greatest clarinettists of our time and flawlessly supported.

Lise Davidsen (soprano) Music by Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi - London PO/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2020 DECCA 4851507 [63:28] [MMB] A uniquely extraordinary voice; a recital to buy, cherish and enjoy repeatedly.

Isabelle Demers (organ) The Chicago Recital - Works by Macmillan, Tchaikovsky, Reger, Laurin, Mendelssohn & Dupre rec. 2015 ACIS APL41752 [70:49] [MR] A perfect combination of magnificent organ, brilliant player, fine programme and top-notch recording.

Jeanne Demessieux (organ) The Decca Legacy rec. 1947-67 ELOQUENCE 4841424 [8 CDs: 562:26] [SG] A renowned exponent of the great French virtuoso tradition.

De Profundis Clamavi Piano works - Duncan Honeybourne (piano) rec. 2020 EM RECORDS EMRCD070/71 [75:58 & 77:48] [WH] Brilliant performances of fascinating repertoire that will be new to many.

Jodie Devos (soprano) And Love Said … - Nicolas Krüger (piano) rec. 2020 ALPHA 668 [68:58] [RHa] An outstandingly planned and performed recital.

Dialogo Cello Sonatas by Brahms, Ligeti & Shostakovich - John-Henry Crawford (cello) Victor Santiago Asuncion (piano) rec. 2019 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100166 [62:27] [LW] Crawford excels here in his debut.

Dweller in Shadows: A Life of Ivor Gurney by Kate Kennedy 488pp. pub. 2021 ISBN:9780691212784 Princeton University Press [SG] Although Gurney has long dwelt on the shadowy periphery of musical life, this outstanding biography does much to redress the balance.

Echoes of an Old Hall Gothic Voices rec. 2018 LINN CKD644 [76:03] [DMD] A deliciously varied exploration of English music of the late 14th and early 15th centuries and the European composers it influenced.

English Music for Strings Works by Britten, Bridge, Berkeley & Bliss - Sinfonia of London/John Wilson rec. 2020 CHANDOS SACD CHSA5264 [64:46] [WH] A magnificent collection of four masterly English works for strings.

Eventyr Works by Tveitt, Sinding, Harum & Grieg - Christian Grřvlen (piano) rec. 2019 2L RECORDS 2L-163-SACD [85:06] [DC] Exceptionally fine, and very much worth anyone’s time.

Feminae The Female in Music - Lisa Maria Schachtschneider (piano) rec. 2020 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38314 SACD [78:31] [GT]  An outstanding recording debut.

Christian Ferras (violin) Concert Tours in Germany 1954–1961. Violin concertos by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Brahms & Prokofiev - Südfunk-SO Stuttgart/Hans Müller-Kray, NDR-SO/Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, HR-SO/Dean Dixon rec. 1954-1961 MELOCLASSIC MC2042 [77:26 + 61:37] [MB] I don’t expect to hear a finer set of discs this year by a violinist than these.

Christian Ferras (violin) Violin Recitals in Hamburg rec. 1951-64 MELOCLASSIC MC2043 [79:45 + 76:03] [SG] Outstanding in every respect.

Kathleen Ferrier (contralto) 20th-Century British Treasures rec. 1946-53 SOMM ARIADNE 5010 [79:15] [SG] A disc to treasure.

Kathleen Ferrier (contralto) 20th-Century British Treasures rec. 1946-53 SOMM ARIADNE 5010 [79:15] [JQ] Anyone who values great singing should put this CD at the top of their shopping list.

Fleur de mon âme Songs by Hahn, Debussy, Jongen, Chausson & Duparc - Karen Cargill (mezzo) Simon Lepper (piano) RSNO soloists rec. 2020 LINN CKD652 [59:43] [RMo] An essential purchase for all lovers of beautiful singing and French melodies.

Freak Out Extraordinary Music for Organ - Tom Bell (organ) rec. 2018 REGENT RECORDS REGCD540 [79:41] [DMD] An absolute riot of an album!

Four Visions of France Cello concertos by Saint-Saens, Faure, Honegger & Lalo - Daniel Müller-Schott (cello) Deutsches SO Berlin/Alexandre Bloch rec. 2019 ORFEO C988211 [69:50] [LW] A most appealing selection of French music for cello and orchestra, given first-rate performances.

French Cello Sonatas David Berlin (cello) Benjamin Martin (piano) rec. 2019 ABC CLASSICS 485 5165 [77:26] [MR] A disc of passionate and turbulent music, masterly delivered by two players at the very peak of their form.

French Duets Works by Faure, Poulenc, Debussy, Stravinsky & Ravel - Paul Lewis, Steven Osborne (piano) rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68329 [68:28] [JQ] An outstanding recital of richly entertaining music.

French Music for the Stage Works by Auber, Boieldieu, Delibes, Massenet & Thomas - Estonian National Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi rec. 2018/19 CHANDOS CHAN20151 [78:40] [SSi] Swagger and panache: wonderful.

Elina Garanča (mezzo-soprano) Lieder by Schumann & Brahms - Malcolm Martineau (piano) rec. 2020 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4839210 [57:33] [GF] Place your orders!

Randall Goosby (violin) Roots - Zhu Wang (piano) Xavier Dubois Foley (double bass) rec. 2020/21 DECCA 485 1664 [75:38] [MR] The latest violin wunderkind from the USA fully justifies Decca’s faith in him.

Harmonia Polonica Nova Klaudiusz Baran (accordion) Roman Perucki, Hanna Dys (positive organs) Kacper Smoliński (harmonica) Witold Lutosławski Chamber PO Łomża/Jan Miłosz Zarzycki rec 2019/20 DUX 1715 [61:41] [RHa] An unexpected delight; witty, imaginative, unusual and completely accessible.

Hodie Christus natus est A Medieval Chistmas - Boston Camerata/Anne Azéma rec. 2021 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905339 [58:13] [JV] This disc makes for great company during the last weeks of the year.

Stephen Hough (piano) Vida Breve rec. 2018 HYPERION RECORDS CDA68260 [78:09] [RCh] Recital playing of the highest order.

Evlyn Howard-Jones & Edward Isaacs (piano) The Complete Solo Recordings rec. 1926-28 APR 6035 [78:53 + 58:02] [JW] Beautifully remastered examples of British pianism in the 1920s.

The Imaginary Music Book of J.S. Bach Works by JS Bach, CPE Bach and Mozart - Café Zimmermann rec. 2020 ALPHA 766 [74:33] [BW] One of the best of Café Zimmermann’s very fine recordings.

Jaime Laredo (violin) The Complete RCA & Columbia Album Collection rec. 1959-1993 SONY CLASSICAL 19439870202 [22 CDs: 23 hrs] [SG] A multifaceted and gifted musician.

Gabriella Lengyel (violin) Jenő Hubay’s last pupil rec. 1951-1972 RHINE CLASSICS RH-018 [9 CDs: 685:05] [SG] A collection I wouldn’t like to be without.

Letters Works by Fennessy & O'Regan - Chamber Choir Ireland, Irish Chamber O/Paul Hillier rec. 2018/19 NAXOS 8.574287 [68:20] [RHa] A pair of compelling and contrasting extended works for choir from Ireland.

Josef Lhévinne (piano) The Complete Josef Lhévinne rec. 1920-1942 MARSTON 53023-2 [3 CDs: 213:43] [SG] Stylish playing, phenomenal technique, unassailable musicality and passionate commitment – it’s all here.

Like a Phoenix from the Ashes - An Organ Portrait - Gdansk Organ Landscape Vol. 1 - Andrzej Mikołaj Szadejko (organ) rec. 2019 MDG 906 2157-6 SACD [68:07] [JV] Kristian Wergscheider has done a brilliant job with the building of this very fine instrument.

Love Songs Angela Hewitt (piano) rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68341 [75:57] [DD] One of the best piano CDs I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear.

Magnificat 2 Sacred Choral Music - Glen Dempsey, James Anderson-Besant (organ) Ch St. John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha rec. 2019 SIGNUM SIGCD667 [74:22] [JQ] A wide-ranging and highly stimulating collection of settings of the ‘Mag’ and ‘Nunc’, superbly performed.

More Honourable than the Cherubim PaTRAM Institute Male Choir/Vladimir Gorbik rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5287 SACD [71:25] [DM] A magnificent release, beautifully conducted, flawlessly sung and incredibly well recorded; it’s sure to be one of my Recordings of the Year.

More Honourable than the Cherubim PaTRAM Institute Male Choir/Vladimir Gorbik rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5287 SACD [71:25] [JQ] Magnificent, sonorous singing, recorded in sound of stunning depth and realism

Mysteries Works by Bacri & Miaskovsky - Sabine Weyer (piano) rec. 2020 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38313 SACD [77:33] [GT] A fascinating release of a neglected Russian master and a modern French composer.

Mysteries Nikolai MYASKOVSKY (1881-1950) Piano Sonatas Nos 2 & 3, Eccentricities Nicolas BACRI (b. 1961) Piano Sonatas Nos 2 & 3, Fantaisie -Sabine Weyer (piano) rec. 2020 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38313 SACD [77:33] [MC] Stellar performances of works entirely deserving of wider circulation.

Ginette Neveu (violin) in America Works by Beethoven, Chausson & Ravel - Boston Symphony Orchestra/Serge Koussevitzky, Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York/Charles Munch rec. 1947-49 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC630 [77:17] [SG] A valuable addition to the Neveu discography.

Nightlight Cordelia Williams (piano) rec. 2020 SOMM SOMMCD0639 [72:30] [DMD] Truly exceptional Schubert crowns a stunning recital.

Noctuelles Works by Ravel & Medtner - Michael Brown (piano) rec. 2019 FIRST HAND RECORDS FHR078 [61:49] [RCh] A coupling of masterpieces, familiar and neglected, in exceptional performances.

Nordic Choral Music Youth Concert Ch of the Choral Academy Dortmund/Felix Heitmann WDR Radio Ch/Stefan Parkman rec. 2011-2019 HÄNSSLER CLASSICS HC20064 [72:45] [GPJ] Masterful performances of challenging repertoire from both choirs.

Nordic Rhapsody Works by Grieg, Sibelius, Stenhammar, Sinding & others - Johan Dalene (violin) Christian Ihle Hadland (piano) rec. 2020 BIS BIS-2560 SACD [68.24] [MW] Superb playing of delightful works.

Northscapes - Ieva Jokubaviciute (piano) rec 2019 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92251 [54:50] [DMD] All lovers of the piano will want to hear this exceptional pianist.

Vikingur Olafsson (piano) Mozart & Contemporaries rec. 2021 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 486 0525 [83:48] [DMD] The Icelandic pianist at his very best. 

Occurrence ISO Project Vol 3 - Pekka Kuusisto (violin) Mario Caroli (flute) Iceland SO/Daniel Bjarnason rec. 2018-2020 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92243 BD-A/CD [70:42] [RHa] An appropriately thrilling conclusion to Sono Luminus's signature ISO Project.

John Ogdon (piano) The Ludwigsburg Recital Works by J S Bach, Beethoven and Chopin rec. 1967 MELOCLASSIC MC1056 [79:45] [SG] Ogdon at the height of his powers.

Romantic Piano Encores Kenneth Hamilton (piano) rec. 2019/20 PRIMA FACIE PFCD160 [74:46] [JF] The playing is stunning from the first note to the last - every track here is a winner.

Jacobus REGNART (c.1540-1599) Missa Christ ist erstanden & other works - Cinquecento rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68369 [64:45 [DC] Exquisite performances of exquisite music - to be snapped up without delay.

Septem Dies Music at Prague University 1360-1460 - Schola Gregoriana Pragensis/David Eben, Corina Marti (clavisimbalum) rec. 2019 SUPRAPHON SU4282-2 [63:50] [JV] A superb disc.

Serenissima A Musical Portrait of Venice around 1726 Works by Vivaldi, Scarlatti, Porpora & Sammartini - Perrine Devillers (soprano) The 1750 Project/Benoît Laurent rec. 2019 RAMÉE RAM1902 [76:13] [JV] A delightful and highly entertaining disc.

Beverly Sills (soprano) And Friends rec. 1959-72 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 6304 [73:13 + 67:05] [RMo] A glorious compilation of the best of a unique singer partnered by a host of other great artists.

Cyril Smith (piano) The Complete Solo Recordings rec. 1929-52 APR 7313 [3 CDs: 217:53] [SG] A wonderfully communicative artist and masterful technician.

Soleil Noir Arias by and for Francesco Rasi - Emiliano Gonzalez Toro (tenor) I Gemeli rec. 2019 NAĎVE V5473 [51:45] [GPu] A fascinating disc which articulates a distinctive and refreshing approach to the vocal music of the early baroque.

The Soul of Russia Transcriptions for piano trio by Alexander Krein - Piano Trio Then-Bergh-Yang-Schäfer rec. 2020 GENUIN GEN21727 [65:30] [RCh] Beautiful music lovingly transformed into wonderful chamber miniatures.

Michael Spyres (baritenor) BariTenor - Chœur d’hommes de l’Opéra national du Rhin, Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg/Marko Letonja rec. 2020 ERATO 9029515666 [84:30] [PCG] A novel and exciting recital, full of artistry and promise and well presented.

Stolen Music Transcriptions for Piano Trio - Linos Piano Trio rec. 2021 CAVI-MUSIC 8553035 [65:04] [PRB] Musical reincarnations – not perfunctory adaptations.

The Sweetest Songs Music from the Baldwin Partbooks III - Contrapunctus/Owen Rees rec. 2016 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD633 [67:23] [ST] Like balm for the soul.

George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra The Forgotten Recordings rec. 1954-1955 SOMM ARIADNE 5011-2 [69:44 + 73:13] [JQ] A revelatory set.

Taliesin’s Songbook Rebecca Evans (soprano) Gareth Brynmor John (baritone) Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano) Catrin Finch (harp) rec. 2021 TŶ CERDD TCR031 [71:37] [GPJ] A remarkable recording that brings together songs by many of the finest Welsh composers from the past century.

Three Suites for Two Pianos Works by Arensky, Rachmaninoff & Yuhao Guo - Anke Pan, Yuhao Guo (piano) rec. 2020 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38589 [55:49] [RCh] A gifted duo thrill in this exciting music.

Time Zones Works by Satie & Scheidt - Lautten Compagney/Wolfgang Katschner rec. 2020 DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 19439807952 [70:32] [DC] Imaginative and hugely entertaining.

Daniil Trifonov (piano) Silver Age - Mariinsky Orchestra/Valery Gergiev rec. 2019 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 5331 [69:39 + 75:44] [LW] Trifonov’s staggering pianism at the service of the music makes this unmissable.

Verklärte Nacht Works by Lehar, Schoenberg, Fried & Korngold - Stuart Skelton (tenor) Christine Rice (mezzo) BBC SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2020 CHANDOS SACD CHSA5243 [63:36] [RWe] Recommended both for the excellent performances and valuable programme.

The Voice of King’s A Legend Reborn 2016 restoration of the organ of King’s College, Cambridge FUGUE STATE FILMS FSFDVD013 DVD/CD [2 DVDs: 252 mins & 2 CDs: 109:51] [ST] Nothing short of essential if you’re interested in organs.

Dame Gillian Weir (organ) A Celebration rec. 1964-1998 ELOQUENCE 4841435 [22 CDs][BW] Words are inadequate to praise this collection; just go for it.

 



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