AllMusic 2017 Year In Review

Favorite Classical Instrumental Albums -

 For our second look into the year's best classical music, we focus on works without vocal accompaniment, featuring new recordings of compositions from Beethoven, Schubert, Ravel and Mahler.
Telemann: Concerti per molti stromenti

Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin

Telemann: Concerti per molti stromenti

The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin presents lively performances of Telemann's concertos for various instruments, including the rare calchedon.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Tangere

Alexei Lubimov

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Tangere

Lubimov achieves insight into the mind of this notoriously troublesome composer that no one else has quite managed before.

Mozart: Violin Sonatas Nos. 12, 16, 17, 23, 32, 36

Alina Ibragimova / Cédric Tiberghien

Mozart: Violin Sonatas Nos. 12, 16, 17, 23, 32, 36

Cédric Tiberghien and Alina Ibragimova present fluid interpretations of Mozart's juvenile and adult sonatas for piano and violin.

Antonín Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 "From the New World"; 2 Slavonic Dances

Andrés Orozco-Estrada / Houston Symphony Orchestra

Antonín Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 "From the New World"; 2 Slavonic Dances

Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Houston Symphony perform Dvorák's "New World" Symphony in this luminous audiophile recording.

Domenico Scarlatti: Sonatas, Vol. 2

Angela Hewitt

Domenico Scarlatti: Sonatas, Vol. 2

Angela Hewitt's performances of Scarlatti sonatas are distinguished by their crisp rhythms, cleanly articulated ornaments, and incisive attacks.

Saint-Saëns: Organ Symphony; Carnival of the Animals

Antonio Pappano / Martha Argerich / Daniele Rossi

Saint-Saëns: Organ Symphony; Carnival of the Animals

This wonderful album contains perhaps Saint-Saëns' two most popular works; thoroughly a pleasure, all the way through.

Buxtehude: Trio Sonatas Op. 1

Arcangelo

Buxtehude: Trio Sonatas Op. 1

The first volume of Dietrich Buxtehude's trio sonatas receives lively performances by the period instruments group Arcangelo.

Hans Abrahamsen: String Quartets No. 1-4

Arditti Quartet

Hans Abrahamsen: String Quartets No. 1-4

Covering the period 1973 to 2012, the music is recognizably the product of one composer, stretching the chops of string quartets.

Bach: Goldberg Variations

Beatrice Rana

Bach: Goldberg Variations

Rana notches a substantial success and bears out the predictions of those who tout her as a major star.

Reijnold Popma van Oevering: Suittes voor't Clavier

Bob van Asperen / Christiaan Müller

Reijnold Popma van Oevering: Suittes voor't Clavier

Reijnold Popma van Oevering may be obscure today, but his six keyboard suites likely influenced J.S. Bach's English Suites.

Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli: Sonate da Camera Nos. 1-6

Bojan Čičić / The Illyria Consort

Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli: Sonate da Camera Nos. 1-6

The first six of Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli’s twelve chamber sonatas are played with refinement by Bojan Cicic and the Illyria Consort.

Jean-Philippe Rameau: Pygmalion

Christophe Rousset / Les Talens Lyriques

Jean-Philippe Rameau: Pygmalion

Rameau's 1748 acte de ballet Pygmalion receives a period-style performance by Les Talens Lyriques, conducted by Christophe Rousset.

Offenbach: Overtures

Darrell Ang / L'Orchestre National de Lille

Offenbach: Overtures

Darrell Ang and the Orchestre National de Lille present overtures from Offenbach's operettas and the youthful Ouverture à grand orchestre.

Jean-Marie Leclair: Violin Concertos, Op. 7 Nos. 1, 3, 4 & 5

Fabio Biondi

Jean-Marie Leclair: Violin Concertos, Op. 7 Nos. 1, 3, 4 & 5

Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante present four of Jean-Marie Leclair's violin concertos in the resonant acoustics of San Francesco Grande, Padua.

Maurice Ravel: Daphnis & Chloé, Complete Ballet

François-Xavier Roth / Les Siècles

Maurice Ravel: Daphnis & Chloé, Complete Ballet

François-Xavier Roth and his period instruments ensemble Les Siècles re-create Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé with the sounds of its 1912 premiere.

Haydn 2032, No. 4: Il Distratto

Giovanni Antonini / Il Giardino Armonico

Haydn 2032, No. 4: Il Distratto

Giovanni Antonini and Il Giardino Armonico present the fourth volume in their series of the complete Haydn symphonies.

César Franck: Sonate pour Piano et Violon; Ernest Chausson: Concert

Isabelle Faust / Alexander Melnikov / Salagon Quartet

César Franck: Sonate pour Piano et Violon; Ernest Chausson: Concert

The combination of Faust's gut-strung 1710 Stradivarius and Melnikov's 1885 Erard yields impressive transparency. French chamber music at its best.

Smetana: Má Vlast

Jakub Hrusa / Bamberger Symphoniker

Smetana: Má Vlast

Bedrich Smetana's Má Vlast is given a stirring performance by Jakub Hrusa and the Bamberg Symphony on this 2016 hybrid SACD.

Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde

Jonas Kaufmann / Jonathan Nott

Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde

Employing his wide vocal range, Jonas Kaufmann sings the tenor and baritone songs in Gustav Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde.

Ligeti: Piano Concerto; Cello Concerto; Chamber Concerto; Melodien

Joonas Ahonen / Christian Poltéra / Baldur Brönnimann / BIT 20 Ensemble

Ligeti: Piano Concerto; Cello Concerto; Chamber Concerto; Melodien

The Norwegian BIT20 Ensemble explores the innovative ideas in György Ligeti's experimental concertos on this BIS release.

Lorenzo de’ Medici and Maximilian I, 1450 – 1519

Jordi Savall / La Capella Reial de Catalunya / Hespèrion XXI

Lorenzo de’ Medici and Maximilian I, 1450 – 1519

Another Savall triumph, demonstrating how Renaissance music was part of a wider cultural system.

Dvořák: American String Quartet & Quintet, Opp. 96-97

Krzysztof Chorzelski / Skampa Quartet

Dvořák: American String Quartet & Quintet, Opp. 96-97

The Skampa Quartet has an uncanny way of showing Dvorák as a Czech fascinated by what he heard in America.

Maurice Ravel: The Complete Solo Piano Works

Larissa Dedova

Maurice Ravel: The Complete Solo Piano Works

The complete piano music of Maurice Ravel receives lucid performances from Larissa Dedova on this 2017 Centaur release.

Thomas Adès: Asyla; Tevot; Polaris

London Symphony Orchestra

Thomas Adès: Asyla; Tevot; Polaris

Three large orchestral works seem to flow one into the other, with the LSO sounding highly energized.

Liszt: Faust Symphony

Martin Haselböck / Chorus sine nomine / Steve Davislim / Wiener Akademie Orchester

Liszt: Faust Symphony

Martin Haselbóck and his Vienna Academy Orchestra present a period reading of Franz Liszt's most influential work, A Faust Symphony.

Masaaki Suzuki Plays Bach Organ Works, Vol. 2: ... sei gegrüßet, jesu gütig

Masaaki Suzuki

Masaaki Suzuki Plays Bach Organ Works, Vol. 2: ... sei gegrüßet, jesu gütig

Masaaki Suzuki plays works by Johann Sebastian Bach on the organ of the Kobe Shoin Women's University Chapel.

Tchaikovsky: Serenade

Metamorphosen Berlin / Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt

Tchaikovsky: Serenade

Metamorphosen Berlin plays string orchestra works by Tchaikovsky, including the Souvenir de Florence and the Serenade in C major.

Beethoven: Appassionata, Les Adieux, Waldstein

Olga Pashchenko

Beethoven: Appassionata, Les Adieux, Waldstein

Pashchenko plays an 1824 Graf fortepiano, an instrument with five pedals and an awesome variety of sounds.

Stravinsky: The Soldier's Tale

Oliver Knussen / Academy Manson Ensemble

Stravinsky: The Soldier's Tale

This performance of Stravinsky's L'Histoire du soldat features Sir Harrison Birtwistle and George Benjamin with Downton Abbey's Dame Harriet Walter.

Voyages

Olivier Latry

Voyages

The unusually satisfying program alternates between fun and intellect, with a bright, slightly splashy sound reminiscent of E. Power Biggs.

Minor Major

Oslo String Quartet

Minor Major

The Oslo String Quartet pits Beethoven's "Quartetto Serioso" against Schubert's final string quartet in a study of contrasts.

Mahler 5

Osmo Vänskä / Minnesota Orchestra

Mahler 5

Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra launch a Mahler cycle on BIS with this transparent recording of the Symphony No. 5.

David Hackbridge Johnson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 1

Paul Mann / Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

David Hackbridge Johnson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 1

David Hackbridge Johnson's debut recording on Toccata Classics presents his extraordinary Symphony No. 9 and two shorter orchestral works.

Christopher Tye: Complete Consort Music

Phantasm

Christopher Tye: Complete Consort Music

Phantasm explores Christopher Tye's instrumental pieces, which are among the earliest examples of English chamber music.

Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition; Prokofiev: Classical Symphony

Philippe Jordan / Paris National Opera Orchestra

Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition; Prokofiev: Classical Symphony

Popular works by Mussorgsky and Prokofiev receive vigorous performances from Philippe Jordan and the Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Paris.

Grandissima Gravita

Rachel Podger / Brecon Baroque

Grandissima Gravita

Baroque violinist Rachel Podger and her period instruments ensemble Brecon Baroque play violin sonatas by Vivaldi, Tartini, Veracini, and Pisendel.

Béla Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra; Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta

Rafael Kubelik / Seiji Ozawa / Boston Symphony Orchestra

Béla Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra; Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta

Remastered Bartók recordings by Kubelik and Ozawa make this Pentatone release essential listening for audiophile collectors.

Debussy: Sonates & Trio

Renaud Capuçon / Gérard Caussé / Bertrand Chamayou / Marie-Pierre Langlamet / Edgar Moreau / Emmanuel Pahud

Debussy: Sonates & Trio

Hearing a group of Debussy works in traditional forms together is of considerable interest; these performances are attractive.

Bruckner: Symphony No. 9

Riccardo Muti / Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Bruckner: Symphony No. 9

Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra deliver a convincing performance of Bruckner's unfinished Ninth that feels complete.

J.S. Bach: The Partitas

Richard Egarr

J.S. Bach: The Partitas

Balancing lively dance rhythms with profound expressions, Richard Egarr explores the many layers of Bach's Partitas.

Nielsen: Flute Concerto; Clarinet Concerto; Aladdin Suite

Samuel Coles / Mark Van de Wiel / Paavo Järvi / Philharmonia Orchestra

Nielsen: Flute Concerto; Clarinet Concerto; Aladdin Suite

Carl Nielsen's Flute Concerto and his Clarinet Concerto receive vivid performances on this spectacular-sounding album from Signum Classics.

William Bolcom: Piano Rags

Spencer Myer

William Bolcom: Piano Rags

Myer rightly makes these into concert works, not showboat nostalgia; this is an essential item for ragtime collections.

Schmidt: Symphony No. 2; R. Strauss: Festival Prelude, Op. 61

Stefan Blunier / Beethoven Orchester Bonn

Schmidt: Symphony No. 2; R. Strauss: Festival Prelude, Op. 61

Stefan Blunier and the Beethoven Orchester Bonn present Franz Schmidt's massive Symphony No. 2 with Richard Strauss' Festival Prelude.

Ravel: Piano Concertos; Falla: Nights in the Gardens of Spain

Steven Osborne / Ludovic Morlot / BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Ravel: Piano Concertos; Falla: Nights in the Gardens of Spain

Steven Osborne delivers sparkling performances of impressionistic piano concertos by Maurice Ravel and Manuel de Falla.

Dvorák: String Quartet Op. 105; String Quintet Op. 97

Takács String Quartet / Lawrence Power

Dvorák: String Quartet Op. 105; String Quintet Op. 97

The Takács Quartet conveys the three nationalistic strands of these wonderful late Dvorák works as few others have ever done.

The Topping Tooters of the Town: Music of the London Waits 1580-1650

The City Musick / William Lyons

The Topping Tooters of the Town: Music of the London Waits 1580-1650

The London Waits performed rousing dance music and songs for civic ceremonies and various public functions in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Strauss: Don Juan; Ein Heldenleben

Valery Gergiev / Munich Philharmonic Orchestra

Strauss: Don Juan; Ein Heldenleben

Valery Gergiev and the Munich Philharmonic deliver lush and luxuriant performances of Richard Strauss' Don Juan and Ein Heldenleben.

Franz Schubert: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 4

Vladimir Feltsman

Franz Schubert: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 4

Vladimir Feltsman plays Schubert's Sonata in A minor, D. 784 and Sonata in A major, D. 959, inviting speculation on the composer's moods.

Scott Joplin:The Complete Rags, Waltzes & Marches

William Appling

Scott Joplin:The Complete Rags, Waltzes & Marches

For this set of the complete rags, waltzes, and marches, William Appling observes the moderate tempos Scott Joplin required.