AllMusic 2016 Year In Review

Favorite Classical Instrumental Albums -

 The world of classical instrumental music received many welcome new additions this year, like Lance Friedel and the London Symphony Orchestra's performance of Bruckner's Fifth Symphony, the latest from piano duo Christina Naughton and Michelle Naughton, and Christian Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt's interpretations of Brahms' violin sonatas.
Christopher Rouse: Odna Zhizn; Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4; Prospero's Rooms

Alan Gilbert / New York Philharmonic

Christopher Rouse: Odna Zhizn; Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4; Prospero's Rooms

Four of Christopher Rouse's powerful orchestral works receive world premiere recordings on this 2016 release from Dacapo.

Igor Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring; The Firebird (Suite 1919)

Andrés Orozco-Estrada / hr_Sinfonieorchester (Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra) / Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra

Igor Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring; The Firebird (Suite 1919)

Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony present the Rite of Spring and the Firebird Suite in focused multichannel sound.

Antonín Dvorák: Symphony No. 7; Symphony No. 8

Andrés Orozco-Estrada / Houston Symphony Orchestra

Antonín Dvorák: Symphony No. 7; Symphony No. 8

Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Houston Symphony present the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies of Antonín Dvorák on this hybrid SACD from PentaTone.

Domenico Scarlatti: Sonatas

Angela Hewitt

Domenico Scarlatti: Sonatas

Praised for her Bach recordings on Hyperion, Angela Hewitt turns her attention to the sonatas of Bach's contemporary, Domenico Scarlatti.

Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variations [2015 Recording]

Angela Hewitt

Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variations [2015 Recording]

Angela Hewitt revisits Bach's Goldberg Variations in a recording that reflects a lifetime spent with this music.

Gifts and Greetings

Arditti Quartet

Gifts and Greetings

The Arditti String Quartet celebrates 40 years of cutting-edge performances in this collection of short works on Winter & Winter.

Brahms: String Quartets; Piano Quintet

Belcea Quartet / Till Fellner

Brahms: String Quartets; Piano Quintet

Balance, sense of ensemble, and fine sound make this a major Brahms chamber release.

Brahms: The Violin Sonatas

Christian Tetzlaff / Lars Vogt

Brahms: The Violin Sonatas

Tetzlaff and Vogt have outdone themselves with this carefully considered and highly original version of the Brahms sonatas.

Visions

Christina Naughton / Michelle Naughton

Visions

A combination of technical brilliance and deep musical communion creates one of the most satisfying duo piano recordings in recent memory.

John Dowland: Lachrimae or Seven Tears

Elizabeth Kenny / Phantasm

John Dowland: Lachrimae or Seven Tears

Lutenist Elizabeth Kenny and Phantasm present the pavans, galliards, and almans of John Dowland's collection, Lachrimae or Seven Tears.

Les Voyages de l'Amour

Ensemble Meridiana

Les Voyages de l'Amour

Love is the theme of Ensemble Meridiana's album of works by Joseph Bodin de Boismortier, Jean-Fery Rebel, and Michel Corrette.

Violin Sonatas: Elgar, Debussy, Respighi

James Ehnes / Andrew Armstrong

Violin Sonatas: Elgar, Debussy, Respighi

Violin sonatas by Debussy, Elgar, and Respighi give this album by James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong melancholy and nostalgic moods.

Schumann, 3

Jean-Guihen Queyras / Pablo Heras-Casado / Isabelle Faust / Alexander Melnikov

Schumann, 3

The Freiburgers' strings seem to purr and the cello emerges with startling clarity in the last of this series.

Melody's Mostly Musical Day

Jenny Lin

Melody's Mostly Musical Day

Lin creates a magical atmosphere of favorite compositions and delightful rarities, amplified by excellent illustrations in the booklet.

Dvorák: Slavonic Dances Opp. 46 & 72

Jiří Bělohlávek / Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Dvorák: Slavonic Dances Opp. 46 & 72

There's something uniquely satisfying about this version of the much-recorded Slavonic Dances where the musicians shine in the small details.

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 4 'Italian'

John Eliot Gardiner / London Symphony Orchestra

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 4 'Italian'

John Eliot Gardiner leads the London Symphony Orchestra in two of Mendelssohn's symphonies, presented on hybrid SACD and Blu-ray disc.

Haydn: Sonatas

John O'Conor

Haydn: Sonatas

John O'Conor's 2016 release on Steinway & Sons offers five representative piano sonatas by Franz Joseph Haydn.

Per Nørgård: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 6

John Storgårds / Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

Per Nørgård: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 6

The music of Per Nørgård is perhaps best experienced through his symphonies; this release is especially recommended.

Igor Stravinsky: Apollo Musagete; Concerto in D; Pulcinella

Joshua Weilerstein / Orchestre De Chambre De Lausanne / Lausanne Chamber Orchestra

Igor Stravinsky: Apollo Musagete; Concerto in D; Pulcinella

Joshua Weilerstein's debut recording for MDG Gold is an extraordinary presentation of three neoclassical works by Igor Stravinsky.

Danse Macabre

Kent Nagano / Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal

Danse Macabre

Kent Nagano leads live performances of Halloween-themed orchestral classics with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.

François Couperin: Leçons de Ténèbres

La Nuova Musica / David Bates

François Couperin: Leçons de Ténèbres

Little-known music by Sébastien de Brossard makes a strong balance for Couperin's Leçons de Ténèbres in this wonderful Baroque release.

Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 5

Lance Friedel / London Symphony Orchestra

Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 5

Lance Friedel and the London Symphony Orchestra present a powerful performance of Bruckner's Fifth that audiophiles will want to own.

America Again

Lara Downes

America Again

Downes realizes that concert music influenced by jazz and blues or spirituals mixes naturally with actual jazz or blues pieces.

First Day

Laura Metcalf / Matei Varga

First Day

Metcalf offers a set of works deeply informed by popular music without being "crossover."

Après un rêve: A Fauré Recital

Louis Lortie

Après un rêve: A Fauré Recital

A fine Fauré cornerstone to an album collection.

Marin Marais: Dans les Jardins d'Eurytus

Marie van Rhijn

Marin Marais: Dans les Jardins d'Eurytus

Marie van Rhijn offers harpsichord transcriptions of music by Marin Marais, adapted from his tragédie en musique, Alcide.

Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5

Mariss Jansons / Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5

Mariss Jansons and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra present an audiophile recording of Prokofiev's wartime Symphony No. 5.

Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite; Apollon Musagète; Concerto in D for Strings

Masaaki Suzuki / Tapiola Sinfonietta

Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite; Apollon Musagète; Concerto in D for Strings

Masaaki Suzuki and the Tapiola Sinfonietta present brilliant performances of Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite, Apollon musagète, and the Concerto in D.

Mason Bates: Works for Orchestra

Michael Tilson Thomas / San Francisco Symphony

Mason Bates: Works for Orchestra

Tilson Thomas is still breaking new ground; the optimism generated by Bates' new stylistic fusion is deep.

John Jones: Eight Setts of Lessons for the Harpsichord

Mitzi Meyerson

John Jones: Eight Setts of Lessons for the Harpsichord

The forgotten English composer John Jones is back in the spotlight, thanks to Mitzi Meyerson's recording of his harpsichord music.

Neeme Järvi conducts Ibert

Neeme Järvi / L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande

Neeme Järvi conducts Ibert

In French music of the 20th century Järvi was to the manner born, and the result is an absolute delight.

Beethoven: Sonata No. 29 'Hammerklavier'; Bagatelles Op. 126

Nelson Goerner

Beethoven: Sonata No. 29 'Hammerklavier'; Bagatelles Op. 126

Nelson Goerner's first album of Beethoven's piano music offers the late "Hammerklavier" Sonata and the Bagatelles, Op. 126.

Noriko Ogawa plays Erik Satie on an 1890 Erard piano, Vol. 1

Noriko Ogawa

Noriko Ogawa plays Erik Satie on an 1890 Erard piano, Vol. 1

Noriko Ogawa plays the best-known piano music of Erik Satie on this first volume of a super audio series for BIS.

Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 3, 6 & 7

Osmo Vänskä / Minnesota Orchestra

Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 3, 6 & 7

Osmo Vänskä completes his second cycle of the symphonies of Jean Sibelius, this time with the Minnesota Orchestra in an audiophile showcase.

Oliver Davis: Dance

Paul Bateman / Kerenza Peacock / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Huw Watkins

Oliver Davis: Dance

Davis' music is a good deal more subtle than its purely diatonic surfaces and minimalist-like basic thematic material might suggest.

J.S. Bach: Sonatas for Flute and Harpsichord

Pauliina Fred / Aapo Häkkinen

J.S. Bach: Sonatas for Flute and Harpsichord

Flutist Pauliina Fred and harpsichordist Aapo Häkkinen give sparkling performances of J.S. Bach's six flute sonatas.

Mozart's Last Symphonies

Richard Tognetti / Australian Chamber Orchestra

Mozart's Last Symphonies

Richard Tognetti leads the Australian Chamber Orchestra in exciting period performances of Mozart's last three symphonies.

Debussy: Images; Jeux; La Plus Que Lente

San Francisco Symphony / Michael Tilson Thomas

Debussy: Images; Jeux; La Plus Que Lente

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony perform three evocative orchestral works by Claude Debussy.

Messaien: Des canyons aux étoiles

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival / Alan Gilbert

Messaien: Des canyons aux étoiles

Olivier Messiaen's Des canyons aux étoiles received a brilliant performance at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival in 2015.

Peter Maxwell Davies: An Orkney Wedding, With Sunrise

Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Ben Gernon / Sean Shibe

Peter Maxwell Davies: An Orkney Wedding, With Sunrise

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra's enthusiasm makes it clear that Maxwell Davies' music will be around for a long time.

The Tchaikovsky Project: Pathétique, Romeo & Juliet

Semyon Bychkov / Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

The Tchaikovsky Project: Pathétique, Romeo & Juliet

Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic begin Decca's Tchaikovsky Project with the "Pathétique" Symphony and Romeo and Juliet.

Horatiu Radulescu: Sonatas & String Quartets, Vol. 1

Stephen Clarke / JACK Quartet

Horatiu Radulescu: Sonatas & String Quartets, Vol. 1

Mode's series of the sonatas and string quartets of Horatiu Radulescu begins with this CD by Stephen Clarke and the JACK Quartet.

Morton Subotnick: Music for The Double Life of Amphibians

Stephen L. Mosko / Calarts Twentieth Century Players

Morton Subotnick: Music for The Double Life of Amphibians

A major release remastering the original 1980s-era landmark of contemporary music.

Elgar & Walton: Cello Concertos

Steven Isserlis / Paavo Järvi / Philharmonia Orchestra

Elgar & Walton: Cello Concertos

Steven Isserlis and Paavo Järvi present cello concertos by Elgar and Walton, with two short works by Gustav Holst and his daughter, Imogen Holst.

Leyendas

Thibaut Garcia

Leyendas

This is a remarkable meeting of performer and venue, a rare pleasure that will lead listeners to rediscover familiar favorites.

Journey

Trevor Pinnock

Journey

Trevor Pinnock's Journey is a survey of 200 years of harpsichord music, from Antonio de Cabezón to Domenico Scarlatti.

Scriabin: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2

Valery Gergiev / London Symphony Orchestra

Scriabin: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2

Scriabin's first two symphonies are presented live on this double SACD package by Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Britten, Korngold: Violin Concertos

Vilde Frang

Britten, Korngold: Violin Concertos

Vilde Frang's match-up of violin concertos by Korngold and Britten makes this one of her most fascinating albums.

Sibelius, Glazunov: Violin Concertos

Vladimir Ashkenazy / Philharmonia Orchestra / Esther Yoo

Sibelius, Glazunov: Violin Concertos

For her debut album on Deutsche Grammophon, Esther Yoo performs contrasting violin concertos by Alexander Glazunov and Jean Sibelius.

Mahler: Symphonie Nr. 1

Yannick Nézet-Séguin / Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Mahler: Symphonie Nr. 1

Yannick Nézet-Séguin's live performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 1 produces energy and tone colors that make it a delight.