AllMusic 2015 Year In Review

Favorite Classical Instrumental Albums -

 From the works of the great masters to modern pieces from contemporary composers, these were our editors' favorite classical albums of the year, sans vocals.
Carl Nielsen: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6

Alan Gilbert / New York Philharmonic

Carl Nielsen: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6

Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic give startlingly vivid readings of Nielsen's Fifth and Sixth symphonies on this hybrid SACD.

Bach: Violin Concertos

Alina Ibragimova / Jonathan Cohen / Arcangelo

Bach: Violin Concertos

Alina Ibragimova plays the violin concertos of J.S. Bach with an appealing fusion of period practice and warm modern sound.

Hindemith: String Quartets, Vol. 3

Amar Quartett

Hindemith: String Quartets, Vol. 3

The Amar Quartet wraps up Hindemith's cycle of seven string quartets with the once-missing First and the popular Fourth.

Charles Ives: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2

Andrew Davis

Charles Ives: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2

Charles Ives' first two symphonies are strikingly different, and Andrew Davis and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra play them in contrasting styles.

Franz Schubert

András Schiff

Franz Schubert

Schiff adds a new expressive vocabulary that carries nothing of the somewhat reluctant tone players of modern instruments often bring to historical-instrument performances.

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, Op. 64; Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, Op. 35

Arabella Steinbacher / Charles Dutoit / L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, Op. 64; Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, Op. 35

There is still elegant and graceful playing in abundance. PentaTone's sound, recorded at Victoria Hall, is superbly matched to the intentions of the performance.

Haydn: Sinfonia concertante; Mozart: Concertos

Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen

Haydn: Sinfonia concertante; Mozart: Concertos

The list of things to be enthusiastic about here is long, but it begins with the differentiation of the instruments in the solo passages.

Rachmaninov Variations

Daniil Trifonov / Yannick Nézet-Séguin / Philadelphia Orchestra

Rachmaninov Variations

Danil Trifonov plays Rachmaninov's sets of variations on this 2015 Deutsche Grammophon release, featuring the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

Filament

eighth blackbird

Filament

Filament is eighth blackbird's 2015 release, featuring electrifying chamber works by Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, Son Lux, and Philip Glass.

Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians

Ensemble Signal / Bradley Lubman

Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians

Music for 18 Musicians, Steve Reich's minimalist masterpiece, receives a brilliant performance by Brad Lubman and Ensemble Signal.

Kaikhosru Sorabji: 100 Trancendental Studies, 63-71

Fredrik Ullén

Kaikhosru Sorabji: 100 Trancendental Studies, 63-71

On this 2015 BIS release, pianist Fredrik Ullén presents the fourth volume of the 100 Transcendental Studies of Kaikhosru Sorabji.

Irving Fine: Complete Orchestral Works

Gil Rose / Boston Modern Orchestra Project

Irving Fine: Complete Orchestral Works

Irving Fine's small body of orchestral works is presented on this exciting album by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

Bach: Sonatas and Partitas

Gil Shaham

Bach: Sonatas and Partitas

Gil Shaham brings exceptional musicality and a warm presence to J.S. Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin.

Wagner - Dudamel

Gustavo Dudamel / Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela

Wagner - Dudamel

For this exclusive digital download, Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela present selections by Wagner.

Alois Hába: Complete String Quartets

Hába Quartett

Alois Hába: Complete String Quartets

The Hába Quartet explores the microtonal string quartets of Czech composer Alois Hába, a pioneer in exploring alternate tunings.

Bach, Beethoven, Rzewski

Igor Levit

Bach, Beethoven, Rzewski

Levit has knitted three ambitious and extremely difficult variation sets together with a common style.

Quincy Porter: String Quartets Nos. 5-8

Ives Quartet

Quincy Porter: String Quartets Nos. 5-8

Continuing its series on Naxos dedicated to Quincy Porter, the Ives Quartet presents his String Quartets, Nos. 5-8.

Brahms: Symphony No. 4; Hungarian Dances 3, 7 & 11

Iván Fischer / Budapest Festival Orchestra

Brahms: Symphony No. 4; Hungarian Dances 3, 7 & 11

Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra continue their series of Brahms symphonies with a solid reading of the Symphony No. 4.

Anton Bruckner: String Quintet; String Quartet

James Boyd / Fitzwilliam String Quartet

Anton Bruckner: String Quintet; String Quartet

The Fitzwilliam String Quartet presents Anton Bruckner's chamber music in warm and radiant performances on this 2015 Linn release.

Nielsen: Complete Symphonies

John Storgårds / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

Nielsen: Complete Symphonies

John Storgårds treats the six symphonies of Carl Nielsen with intellectual rigor and emphasizes their muscular counterpoint and rugged orchestration.

Schubert: The Symphonies

Jonathan Nott / Bamberger Symphoniker

Schubert: The Symphonies

The Schubert recordings by Jonathan Nott and the Bamberg Symphony have been reissued as four hybrid SACDs in this Tudor box set.

Berlioz: Harold en Italie; La mort de Cléopâtre

Karen Cargill / Antoine Tamestit / Valery Gergiev / London Symphony Orchestra

Berlioz: Harold en Italie; La mort de Cléopâtre

Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra bring excitement and passion to Berlioz's Harold en Italie and La mort de Cléopâtre.

Solitaires

Kathryn Stott

Solitaires

This fine recital is held together by the music of Ravel, the launching point for the other three composers featured.

Iannis Xenakis: IX

Kuniko Kato

Iannis Xenakis: IX

Kuniko Kato performs Xenakis' solo percussion works, Pléïades and Rebonds, which are a test of her dexterity, speed, and stamina.

Poulenc: Piano Concertos; Aubade

Louis Lortie / Edward Gardner / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra / Hélène Mercier

Poulenc: Piano Concertos; Aubade

This is a delight, and it might be the only album you need for Poulenc's music for piano and ensemble.

Shostakovich: Piano Quintet; String Quartet No. 2

Marc-André Hamelin / Takács String Quartet

Shostakovich: Piano Quintet; String Quartet No. 2

The Takács Quartet is gripping throughout. Highly recommended, evocative early Shostakovich, with excellent sound from England's Wyastone Estate concert hall.

Bruckner: The Symphonies

Marek Janowski / L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande

Bruckner: The Symphonies

Marek Janowski and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande recorded Bruckner's symphonies in the multichannel format between 2007 and 2012.

Richard Strauss: Symphonica Domestica & Die Tageszeiten

Marek Janowski

Richard Strauss: Symphonica Domestica & Die Tageszeiten

These late songs are luminously lyrical and within reach of good city choirs who could be pressed into service to perform them in symphonic concerts.

Maria João Pires: Complete Concerto Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon

Maria João Pires

Maria João Pires: Complete Concerto Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon

The complete piano concerto recordings of Maria João Pires on Deutsche Grammophon are packaged with their original cover art.

Re-Sound: Beethoven Symphonies 1 & 2

Martin Haselböck / Wiener Akademie Orchester

Re-Sound: Beethoven Symphonies 1 & 2

Martin Haselböck and the Vienna Academy Orchestra perform Beethoven's First and Second symphonies at the locations where there were premiered.

Masaaki Suzuki Plays Bach Organ Works

Masaaki Suzuki

Masaaki Suzuki Plays Bach Organ Works

Masaaki Suzuki plays famous organ works of J.S. Bach, including the popular Toccata and Fugue in D minor and the Fantasia in G major.

Igor Stravinsky: Le Roi des Étoiles; Les Sacre de Printemps

Michael Tilson Thomas / Boston Symphony Orchestra

Igor Stravinsky: Le Roi des Étoiles; Les Sacre de Printemps

Michael Tilson Thomas and the Boston Symphony Orchestra recorded these Stravinsky masterpieces in the quadraphonic format in 1972.

Schubert: String Quintet

Michel Boulanger / Kuijken String Quartet

Schubert: String Quintet

The Kuijken String Quartet and cellist Michel Boulanger present Schubert's String Quintet in C major with great care and energy.

Mahler: Symphony No. 5

Myung-Whun Chung / Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra

Mahler: Symphony No. 5

Myung-Whun Chung and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra give a flexible and nuanced reading of Mahler's Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor.

Domenico Scarlatti: Sonatas

Nickolai Sheikov

Domenico Scarlatti: Sonatas

On this 2014 Musica Omnia release, Nickolai Sheikov presents a program of 15 harpsichord sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti.

Sibelius: The Symphonies

Okko Kamu / Lahti Symphony Orchestra

Sibelius: The Symphonies

Sibelius' complete symphonies are presented in an exceptionally clear and coherent survey by Okku Kamu and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra.

Mozart: Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra; Sinfonia Concertante for Four Winds

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

Mozart: Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra; Sinfonia Concertante for Four Winds

Fine engineering brings out the harp without distorting it, which is part of the magic on this superlative orchestral recording.

Americano

Pablo Villegas

Americano

Spanish guitarist Pablo Villegas offers fresh and satisfying performances of music from the New World.

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber: Rosary Sonatas

Rachel Podger

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber: Rosary Sonatas

For this double SACD, Rachel Podger plays the Rosary Sonatas of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber in authentic Baroque style.

C.P.E. Bach: 6 Hamburg Symphonies

Riccardo Minasi / Ensemble Resonanz

C.P.E. Bach: 6 Hamburg Symphonies

Riccardo Minasi and Ensemble Resonanz give C.P.E. Bach's Hamburg Symphonies close-to-period style performances on modern instruments.

Dvorák: Symphony No. 9 "From the New World"; American Suite

Robin Ticciati / Bamberger Symphoniker

Dvorák: Symphony No. 9 "From the New World"; American Suite

Robin Ticciati leads the Bamberg Symphony in vibrant performances of Dvorák's Ninth Symphony, "From the New World," and the "American" Suite.

Bruckner: Sinfonie Nr. 5

Simone Young / Philharmonic Orchestra of Hamburg

Bruckner: Sinfonie Nr. 5

Simone Young's recording of Bruckner's Fifth brings to a close her live audiophile cycle of the symphonies on Oehms Classics.

Bruckner: Symphony No. 3

Stanislaw Skrowaczewski

Bruckner: Symphony No. 3

Skrowaczewski's live performance of Bruckner's Third with the London Philharmonic wins high marks for its stunning clarity and vivid presence.

Alexander Mosolov: Iron Foundry; Piano Concerto No. 1

Steffen Schleiermacher / Johannes Kalitzke

Alexander Mosolov: Iron Foundry; Piano Concerto No. 1

Schleiermacher and Kalitzke make you want to hear much more of this fascinating composer.

Frederic Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated!; Four Hands

Ursula Oppens / Jerome Lowenthal

Frederic Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated!; Four Hands

Frederic Rzewski's 36 Variations on The People United Will Never Be Defeated! is revisited by Ursula Oppens, who gave the premiere in 1976.

Eleanor Cory: Things Are; String Quartet No. 3

Various Artists

Eleanor Cory: Things Are; String Quartet No. 3

This 2015 Naxos CD of world premiere recordings of Eleanor Cory's works features her String Quartet No. 3 and Things Are.

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 8

Vladimir Jurowski / Ryan Wigglesworth / London Philharmonic Orchestra

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 8

Vaughan Williams' Fourth and Eighth Symphonies make a complementary pair on this 2015 London Philharmonic Orchestra release.

Ravel: Daphnis et Chloe (Complete Ballet); Pavane

Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Ravel: Daphnis et Chloe (Complete Ballet); Pavane

Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra perform Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé in a superb multichannel recording.

Mahler 10

Yannick Nézet-Séguin / Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal

Mahler 10

Deryck Cooke's third performing version of Mahler's 10th receives an intense live reading from Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain.

Ravel

Yuja Wang

Ravel

Yuja Wang is best known for playing Russian piano concertos, but her all-French album reveals her talents in a different light.