AllMusic 2015 Year In Review

Favorite Classical Vocal Albums -

 Broaden your horizons with our editors' list of their favorite classical albums of the year featuring vocals, including work from centuries past as well as modern pieces.
Bach: St. Matthew Passion

Academy of Ancient Music

Bach: St. Matthew Passion

This is a St. Matthew Passion that will bring new perspectives on the work, both in the musical material and in the overall interpretation.

The Power of Love: Arias from Handel Operas

Amanda Forsythe / Apollo's Fire

The Power of Love: Arias from Handel Operas

Amanda Forsythe sings virtuoso arias from Handel's operas, backed by Jeannette Sorrell and the brilliant period instruments ensemble Apollo's Fire.

Cinema

Andrea Bocelli

Cinema

Bocelli returns to the studio with Cinema, an album of movie songs, featuring duets with Ariana Grande, Nicole Scherzinger, and Veronica Berti.

Verdi: Aida

Anja Harteros / Jonas Kaufmann / Antonio Pappano

Verdi: Aida

This is state-of-the-art Verdi, and for a lot of listeners, the new Aïda they've been waiting for.

Tchaikovsky: Iolanta

Anna Netrebko / Emmanuel Villaume

Tchaikovsky: Iolanta

Tchaikovsky's one-act opera Iolanta receives a passionate performance from Anna Netrebko, who sings the lead role in this live recording.

Amores Pasados

Ariel Abramovich / Anna Maria Friman / Jacob Heringman / John Potter

Amores Pasados

This seems a strange concept, but it works very well for several reasons, including the singing of Potter and Friman, who strike just the right note.

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis

Bernard Haitink / Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis

Bernard Haitink leads the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a stirring performance of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis.

Héroïque: French Opera Arias

Bryan Hymel / Emmanuel Villaume

Héroïque: French Opera Arias

Bryan Hymel sings a selection of heroic arias from French operas by Rossini, Berlioz, Massenet, Gounod, Meyerbeer, and others.

Fleurs

Carolyn Sampson / Joseph Middleton

Fleurs

Here the music is affecting, the singer confident, the accompanist sensitive, and the engineering superb. A highly recommended recital.

Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil

Charles Bruffy / Kansas City Chorale / Phoenix Chorale

Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil

Charles Bruffy unites the Phoenix Chorale and the Kansas City Chorale in a moving performance of Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil.

Romaria: Choral Music from Brazil

Choir of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge / Geoffrey Webber

Romaria: Choral Music from Brazil

This program is absorbing from beginning to end as it is done here. Brilliantly diverse, gutsy, and very strongly recommended.

Ascendit Deus

Clare College Choir, Cambridge / Graham Ross / Dmitri Ensemble

Ascendit Deus

This grows into double choir material in the middle and then contracts back. In general, a state-of-the-art seasonal sacred recording, beautifully engineered.

In the Midst of Life: Music from the Baldwin Partbooks, Vol. 1

Contrapunctus / Owen Rees

In the Midst of Life: Music from the Baldwin Partbooks, Vol. 1

All together, this is a superior release that gets to the heart of a repertory that often gives listeners problems.

Mozart: Opera Arias & Overtures

Elizabeth Watts / Christian Baldini / Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Mozart: Opera Arias & Overtures

Soprano Elizabeth Watts, conductor Christian Baldini, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra present celebrated overtures and arias from Mozart's operas.

Alessandro Scarlatti: Con eco d'Amore

Elizabeth Watts

Alessandro Scarlatti: Con eco d'Amore

There are many junctures at which this recording of Scarlatti arias is positively haunting.

Poulenc: Mass in G major; Sept Chansons; Motets

Elora Festival Singers / Noel Edison

Poulenc: Mass in G major; Sept Chansons; Motets

The performances by the Elora Festival Choir here are especially attractive and the sound is clear and entirely appropriate. A superior Poulenc release.

Follow, Poet

Ensemble LPR / Mohammed Fairouz / Kate Lindsey / Paul Muldoon / Evan Rogister

Follow, Poet

This entire project comes together quite powerfully and will give rise to many reflections on the role of art in the current violent world.

Brazilian Adventures

Ex Cathedra / Jeffrey Skidmore

Brazilian Adventures

The whole, rendered in festive, clear tones by Skidmore and Ex Cathedra, makes an immensely satisfying impression.

J.S. Bach: Messe in H-Moll

Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart / Hans-Christoph Rademann

J.S. Bach: Messe in H-Moll

Using a new edition of Bach's B minor Mass, this is a historically informed performance that reflects the best German traditions.

Gabriel Fauré: Songs for Bass Voice and Piano

Jared Schwartz / Roy Howat

Gabriel Fauré: Songs for Bass Voice and Piano

Jared Schwartz and Roy Howat present mélodies by Gabriel Fauré, as taken from the corrected Edition Peters collection.

Bach: Magnificat

John Butt / Dunedin Consort

Bach: Magnificat

Placing Bach's compositions within the context for which they were written yields a performance that is original in concept and satisfying in details.

Félicien David: Le Désert

Laurence Equilbey / Accentus / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris

Félicien David: Le Désert

Accentus makes a strong case for the revival of Félicien David's Le Désert, an "ode-symphonie," once championed by Berlioz.

Arthur Honegger: Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher

Marion Cotillard / Marc Soustrot / Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra / Xavier Gallais

Arthur Honegger: Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher

Cotillard's beautifully oracular statements put across the uncanny sense of how Joan lives entirely in her own world. A fine, fresh version of a 20th-century classic.

Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem

Mariss Jansons / Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem

Mariss Jansons' 2012 recording of Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem is a tribute to Kurt Sanderling, who died the previous year.

Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder

Markus Stenz / Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne / Barbara Haveman / Brandon Jovanovich

Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder

Markus Stenz and the Gurzenich-Orchester Köln have recorded the most Mahlerian work Arnold Schoenberg ever composed, the massive Gurrelieder.

Bob Chilcott: St. John Passion

Matthew Owens / Wells Cathedral Choir

Bob Chilcott: St. John Passion

This St. John Passion by Chilcott is well thought out and original. Very strongly recommended.

A Painted Tale

Nicholas Phan / Michael Leopold / Ann Marie Morgan

A Painted Tale

This is a major step in the interpretation of early English song, beautifully recorded by Avie at Skywalker Studios in California.

Praetorius

Pablo Heras-Casado / Balthasar-Neumann-Chor / Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble

Praetorius

Heras-Casado gets a precise, lively sound from the Balthasar-Neumann-Chor und Ensemble of Freiburg and is backed by excellent studio sound from Archiv.

Tutto Buffo [Japan]

Paolo Bordogna / Francesco Lanzillotta / Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini

Tutto Buffo [Japan]

Tutto Buffo is Paolo Bordogna's debut solo collection of comic bass-baritone arias from operas by Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, and others.

Paul Hillier Conducts Arvo Pärt: Choral & Instrumental Music

Paul Hillier

Paul Hillier Conducts Arvo Pärt: Choral & Instrumental Music

Three albums of Arvo Pärt's choral music have been reissued in this slip-covered set by Paul Hillier and the Theatre of Voices.

Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin

Pavol Breslik / Amir Katz

Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin

Tenor Breslik's reading of Schubert's song cycle Die schöne Müllerin, where he has no shortage of competition, can only make his reputation grow.

Handel: Partenope

Philippe Jaroussky / Riccardo Minasi / Il Pomo d'Oro

Handel: Partenope

Handel's comic opera Partenope receives a fine performance in this recording by Riccardo Minasi and his period ensemble Il Pomo d'Oro.

The French Collection

Piotr Beczala

The French Collection

Beczala is both dramatically and vocally convincing, getting exciting support from the Orchestre de L'Opéra National de Lyon under Altinoglu.

Coup Fatal

Serge Kakudji / Fabrizio Cassol / Rodriguez Vangama

Coup Fatal

What makes this all so extraordinary is that there is absolutely nothing of pat pastiche about it, or even of experiment. A real triumph.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Vol. 6

The Sixteen / Harry Christophers

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Vol. 6

This is a good place to start with the Sixteen's series, but also a Palestrina recording that's going to be heard for a very long time.

John Taverner: Missa Corona Spinea

The Tallis Scholars / Peter Phillips

John Taverner: Missa Corona Spinea

The overall picture of Taverner that emerges from this is that of a composer fascinated by sound itself.

Arvo Pärt: Tintinnabuli

The Tallis Scholars / Peter Philips

Arvo Pärt: Tintinnabuli

For those who like Pärt's abstract, holy minimalist style, try out this alternative interpretation. This is fascinating and often enough thrilling.

Mahler: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (arr. Schoenberg)

Trevor Pinnock / Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ensemble

Mahler: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (arr. Schoenberg)

Trevor Pinnock and the Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ensemble play chamber versions of works by Mahler, Busoni, Zemlinsky, and Wagner.

Pergolesi: Stabat Mater; Marian Music from Naples

Vincent Dumestre / Le Poème Harmonique

Pergolesi: Stabat Mater; Marian Music from Naples

This is a unique perspective on one of the most famous Baroque works.

Coronation Music for Charles II

Wim Becu / Oltremontano / Psallentes

Coronation Music for Charles II

The music and sounds of the coronation of Charles II are brilliantly re-created by Wim Becu and the period instrumental consort Oltremontano.