Best classical music recordings of 2016

I found it to be a remarkably deep year for recordings, against all economic odds.  I could easily go twenty deep with little loss of quality, but these are the few that stood out for me:

The Complete Songs of Virgil Thomson for Voice and Piano, by the Florestan Recital Project.  This release wins the prize for “music I didn’t really know existed before.”  Here is one stellar review.

Inspired by Brahms: Music for Horn Trio, including works by Ewazen, Kellogg, and Brahms.  After German Requiem, the Horn Trio is perhaps my favorite work by Brahms.

Brahms Lieder and Liebeslieder Waltzes, by Andrea Rose, Thomas Quasthoff,  Finally a rendition as good as the classic Vronsky/Babin recording.

Domenico Scarlatti Sonatas, by Angela Hewitt.  This is the recording I feel most comfortable recommending to most of you.

Franz Liszt, Transcendental Etudes, by Danil Trifonov.  Probably the most widely and best reviewed release of the last year, here is some background information on the etudes.

Rêve d’un Enfant, works by Franck, Ravel, and Ysaÿe, by Sophie Rosa and Benjamin Powell, the Franck is especially fine.

Mozart, Don Giovanni, conducted by Teodor Currentzis.  I never thought I would be swept off my feet by an original instruments performance of this opera, but there you go.  From Gramophone:

…briskly paced, crisp, bristling attacks – it is also unlike anyone else’s take on the great opera. It isn’t weird or eccentric; everything feels just right. What separates it from the crowd is the depth of attention which is applied to every detail, the profoundly imaginative shaping of each and every phrase, and the extraordinary, razor-sharp precision of the ensemble playing. The stuff, in other words, that everyone else would like to do, but doesn’t know how. The singing, in accordance with Currentzis’s beliefs – and others in the HIPP world – is a touch “lighter” than usual: less “operatic”, more “natural”, if there is such a thing. All the roles are superbly sung (including a best-ever Don Ottavio) and the recording is rich, warm and finely detailed.

That’s the one that wins my top prize.


Also new on my discovery list were the string quartets of Ben Johnston and also Robert Simpson, although these were not generally new recordings.  I listened to plenty of Haydn, rediscovered Idomeneo, for some reason was a bit bored by Beethoven, and rued the passing of Pierre Boulez.


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