AllMusic 2016 Year In Review

Favorite Classical Vocal Albums -

 The year's best classical albums with vocals included René Jacobs' innovative interpretations of Bach, Dvorák conducted by Mariss Jansons, and ORA's blending of modern a cappella choral works with Renaissance stylings.
Benjamin Britten: Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings

Aldeburgh Strings

Benjamin Britten: Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings

The Aldeburgh Strings offers extraordinary performances, aided by top-notch soloists in a well-above-average Britten package.

Bach: The Sacred Cantatas

Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki

Bach: The Sacred Cantatas

Bach's sacred Cantatas been been lovingly recorded by Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan, and reissued in this impressive super audio set.

Giovanni Rovetta: Messe pour la Naissance de Louis XIV

Benjamin Chenier / Galilei Consort

Giovanni Rovetta: Messe pour la Naissance de Louis XIV

The Venetian celebrations of the birth of Louis XIV are imagined in this historic simulation by Benjamin Chénier and the Galilei Consort.

Pierre de la Rue: Missa Nuncqua fue pena mayor, Missa Inviolata

Brabant Ensemble / Stephen Rice

Pierre de la Rue: Missa Nuncqua fue pena mayor, Missa Inviolata

This satisfying release expands our understanding of a composer thought to be a lesser light of the Franco-Flemish style.

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fair Child of Beauty

Britten Sinfonia / John Hopkins / Joyful Company of Singers / Philip Smith / Alan Tongue

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fair Child of Beauty

The seductive performance here is enough to suggest a lost Vaughan Williams masterpiece.

Johannes Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem

Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra / Flemish Radio Choir / Hervé Niquet

Johannes Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem

Hervé Niquet leads the Flemish Radio Choir and the Brussels Philharmonic in a revitalized interpretation of Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem.

Ramon Llull: L'últim pelegrinatge

Capella de Ministrers / Carles Magraner

Ramon Llull: L'últim pelegrinatge

A detailed combination of settings of 13th century Llull's writings with music he might have encountered on the road.

Monteverdi: I 7 Peccati Capitali

Cappella Mediterranea / Leonardo García Alarcón

Monteverdi: I 7 Peccati Capitali

Capella Mediterranea celebrates the 450th anniversary of Monteverdi's birth with this album of excerpts from his operas and madrigals.

Taverner: Western Wynde Mass; Missa Mater Christi Sanctissima

Choir of Westminster Abbey / James O'Donnell

Taverner: Western Wynde Mass; Missa Mater Christi Sanctissima

An above-average entry in the ongoing stream of recordings by England's renowned cathedral choirs.

Zelenka: Missa Divi Xaverri, ZWV 12; Litaniae des Sancto Xaverio, ZWV 156

Collegium Vocale 1704 / Václav Luks / Collegium 1704

Zelenka: Missa Divi Xaverri, ZWV 12; Litaniae des Sancto Xaverio, ZWV 156

There is something Bachian about the large ambitions and gravity in these movements that will remake the High Baroque repertory.

Bach: Christmas Oratorio

Dunedin Consort / John Butt

Bach: Christmas Oratorio

This a performance in which intelligent, small decisions cohere into a persuasive larger whole.

Krenek: Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen

Florian Boesch / Roger Vignoles

Krenek: Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen

Krenek synthesizes a range of expressive devices to portray a modern individual for whom a vacation just raises deeper issues.

The Old Colony Collection

Harry Christophers / Handel & Haydn Society

The Old Colony Collection

An early 19th century anthology of anthems, glees, and opera and oratorio excerpts, the music here is guaranteed to please.

James MacMillan: Since it was the Day of Preparation

Hebrides Ensemble / Synergy Vocals

James MacMillan: Since it was the Day of Preparation

Uniquely powerful sacred music that combines the gravity of a somewhat antique style with a personal response to the texts.

Requiems pour Louis XVI & Marie-Antoinette: Cherubini, Plantade

Hervé Niquet / Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus

Requiems pour Louis XVI & Marie-Antoinette: Cherubini, Plantade

Requiems for Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette receive authentic period interpretations from Hervé Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel.

Schoenberg: Kol Nidre; Shostakovich: Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti

Ildar Abdrazakov / Riccardo Muti / Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Schoenberg: Kol Nidre; Shostakovich: Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti

These two works fit together powerfully, and they exploit the talents of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to the hilt.

Arnold Schönberg, Max Kowalski: Pierrot Lunaire

Ingrid Schmithusen

Arnold Schönberg, Max Kowalski: Pierrot Lunaire

Ingrid Schmithüsen presents contrasting settings by Schoenberg and Kowalski of the bizarre Pierrot poems of Albert Giraud.

John Corigliano & William M. Hoffman: The Ghosts of Versailles

James Conlon / Los Angeles Opera Chorus / Los Angeles Opera Orchestra

John Corigliano & William M. Hoffman: The Ghosts of Versailles

The LA Opera's spectacular production of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles was recorded live by the audiophile label PentaTone.

Schubert: Schwanengesang

James Rutherford / Eugene Asti

Schubert: Schwanengesang

James Rutherford and Eugene Asti present Schubert's posthumous Schwanengesang with five other songs by the master of Lieder.

The Evening Hour: British Choral Music from the 16th and 20th Centuries

Jesus College Choir, Cambridge / Mark Williams

The Evening Hour: British Choral Music from the 16th and 20th Centuries

A fine, genuinely reflective disc, with a program touching on the evening of a day or of a life.

Henry Purcell: Dido & Aeneas

John Alldis Choir / Colin Davis / Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields

Henry Purcell: Dido & Aeneas

PentaTone has remastered Colin Davis' quadraphonic recording of Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, now on hybrid SACD.

Ramon Llull: Temps de conquestes, de diàleg i desconhort

Jordi Savall / La Capella Reial de Catalunya / Hespèrion XXI

Ramon Llull: Temps de conquestes, de diàleg i desconhort

A document of rare historical immediacy and power, bringing Golden Age Spain to life.

Duruflé: Requiem; Four Motets; Messe Cum Jubilo

King's College Choir of Cambridge / Stephen Cleobury

Duruflé: Requiem; Four Motets; Messe Cum Jubilo

Following an immensely successful Fauré Requiem, this Duruflé Requiem might easily result in a revival of this otherworldly, intimate work.

Orfeo Chamán

L'Arpeggiata / Christina Pluhar

Orfeo Chamán

A pre-Columbian setting of the Orpheus myth, impressively mixing genres, original music, and traditional dance tunes.

Ravel: L'Heure espagnole; Don Quichotte à Dulcinée

Leonard Slatkin / Orchestre National de Lyon

Ravel: L'Heure espagnole; Don Quichotte à Dulcinée

Absolutely delightful, Slatkin artfully captures the spirit of Ravel's music.

Bien que l'amour...: Airs Sérieux et à Boìre

Les Arts Florissants / William Christie

Bien que l'amour...: Airs Sérieux et à Boìre

William Christie and Les Arts Florissants present a delightful collection of "serious and drinking airs" from the French Baroque.

Scattered Ashes: Josquin's Miserere and the Savonarolan Legacy

Magnificat

Scattered Ashes: Josquin's Miserere and the Savonarolan Legacy

This ties together repertory by diverse composers without reference to liturgy or purely musical considerations.

Richard Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen

Marek Janowski / Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra

Richard Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen

Marek Janowski's concert recordings of Wagner's Ring cycle are gathered together in this deluxe box set from PentaTone.

Dvorák: Stabat Mater

Mariss Jansons

Dvorák: Stabat Mater

This live recording from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Mariss Jansons captures the full weight of this powerful work.

J.S. Bach: Secular Cantatas, Vol. 7 - Peasant Cantata

Masaaki Suzuki / Bach Collegium Japan

J.S. Bach: Secular Cantatas, Vol. 7 - Peasant Cantata

A cantata with comic components, unlike anything else Bach ever wrote, in a typically attractive entry in Suzuki's series.

Brahms: Vier ernste Gesänge

Matthias Goerne / Christoph Eschenbach

Brahms: Vier ernste Gesänge

You couldn't do better than the selection and performances here for a cornerstone collection of songs by Brahms.

Wagner: Die Walküre

Michelle DeYoung / Matthias Goerne / Jaap van Zweden / Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra

Wagner: Die Walküre

Jaap van Zweden and the Hong Kong Philharmonic present the second of Wagner's Ring operas, Die Walküre.

Roma Æterna

New York Polyphony

Roma Æterna

The choral works of Palestrina, Victoria, and Guerrero are given distinctive performances by New York Polyphony.

Upheld by Stillness

ORA

Upheld by Stillness

This highly original recording asserts that today marks a golden age of choral music comparable to that of the Renaissance.

Refuge from the Flames

ORA

Refuge from the Flames

A must-have choral collection situating contemporary a cappella choral pieces in relation to Renaissance music.

Machaut: A Burning Heart

Orlando Consort

Machaut: A Burning Heart

The medieval courtly love songs of Guillaume de Machaut receive idiomatic and convincing performances by the Orlando Consort.

Randall Thompson: Requiem

Philadelphia Singers / David Hayes

Randall Thompson: Requiem

Randall Thompson's Requiem for double-chorus a capella receives its world premiere recording on this 2016 Naxos release.

Bach, Telemann: Sacred Cantatas

Philippe Jaroussky

Bach, Telemann: Sacred Cantatas

The main attraction is Jaroussky's instrument itself, undiminished by a decade in the classical Top Ten.

Bach: Johannes-Passion

René Jacobs / Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin / Berlin RIAS Chamber Choir

Bach: Johannes-Passion

René Jacobs presents an innovative interpretation of Bach's St. John Passion, with a concerto-like arrangement of the choir.

Gilbert & Sullivan: HMS Pinafore

Richard Egarr / Scottish Opera

Gilbert & Sullivan: HMS Pinafore

The Scottish Opera's historically informed production of HMS Pinafore was recorded at the 2015 Edinburgh International Festival.

Johann Christoph Pepusch: Venus and Adonis

Robert Rawson / The Harmonious Society of Tickle-Fiddle Gentlemen

Johann Christoph Pepusch: Venus and Adonis

Venus and Adonis, a masque by the German-born English transplant Johann Christoph Pepusch, is presented in a lively period re-creation.

Conductus, Vol. 3: Music & Poetry from 13th Century France

Rogers Covey-Crump / Christopher O'Gorman / John Potter

Conductus, Vol. 3: Music & Poetry from 13th Century France

The last of a series, this will convincingly fill a major hole in most collections of medieval music.

Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets

Rufus Wainwright

Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets

An ambitious (and elegant) mix of accompanied readings, opera, and chamber pop to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death.

Love

Simone Kermes

Love

Kermes draws together diverse material for a very strong recital, as well executed as it is original.

Schmidt: Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln

Simone Young

Schmidt: Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln

Simone Young's farewell concert with the Hamburg Philharmonic featured Franz Schmidt's oratorio, The Book with Seven Seals.

Songs by Max Reger

Sophie Bevan / Malcolm Martineau

Songs by Max Reger

Max Reger's under-performed Lieder receive polished performances by soprano Sophie Bevan and veteran accompanist Malcolm Martineau.

Christmas with St John's

St. John's College Choir, Cambridge / Andrew Nethsingha

Christmas with St John's

Traditional carols, a few of them by well-known composers, but the majority by contemporary names, with a measure of seriousness.

Tallis: Lamentations and Other Sacred Music

The Cardinall's Musick / Andrew Carwood

Tallis: Lamentations and Other Sacred Music

The Lamentations of Jeremiah and other choral works by Thomas Tallis are powerfully performed by The Cardinall's Musick.

Helper and Protector: Italian Maestri in Poland

The Sixteen / Eamonn Dougan

Helper and Protector: Italian Maestri in Poland

The Sixteen continues its series of Renaissance choral music by Italian composers who worked in the court of Sigismund III Vasa.

Arvo Pärt: The Deer's Cry

Vox Clamantis / Jaan-Eik Tulve

Arvo Pärt: The Deer's Cry

A marvelous Pärt collection, with flawless and entirely idiomatic sound from the Tallinn Transfiguration Church.